coming thus far all ways lead back to you

belovedI know I should not be writing about my Beloved because it is like baring my soul to the world, the old poet said. So I find this poem by random browsing from a gift collection given by my own beloved younger relatives who know that I love poetry.

CIRCULAR

coming thus far
all ways
lead back to you:
no matter the dead
roads dreams went
you pull
the cord you sent
me yearslong
to my pastimes
only to reach
you, and to find
you at the end
of it all.

(Poem taken from “Soul’s Festival -collected poems 1980-1997″ by Anne Lee Tzu Pheng)

Reading this poem pulls my heartstring too. I have my own beloved, at certain time in life. Sometimes I travel far for a prolonged period of time. But when my heart is still I can find an invisible cord inside pulling to the dear ones I have left behind. This week’s photo challenge word “beloved” makes me sit down and ponder, “Whom can I call my beloved?” My first thought today is my mother.

The sad thing is that during the last part of her life I was not able to stay geographically closer to her. In those days we did not have easy digital communication through internet or mobile phone. Line phone was expensively ticking by minutes and limited in audible performance as she just could not hear what I said. Separated by oceans and other matters too. I know I have no excuse whatever the road/sea/sky blockages might have been. Why did not I fly home more often? I ask today. My honest answer is that my heart was divided and distracted by too many unimportant matters which can sum up in just one phrase, “I was busily living my own life.” On the other hand she never forgot any of her beloved. After the funeral, we found our names and the daily prayers she prayed for each of her children faithfully written down in her handwritten journal. We also found some letters she had written to us but not posted because no one did it for her and she was not mobile by then…

Bible verses to meditate upon:
Exodus 20:12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.
Proverbs 23:25 Let your father and your mother be glad, And let her who bore you rejoice.

a beautiful tasteful ascent

An Ascending to the throne. Sometimes we read or watch official news of a deeply venerated longstanding monarch depart from this world at old age, having reigned over his faithful subjects for many decades. The news is often of a standard pattern: solemn, reverent, tastefully laced with a tinge of sadness which comes with saying goodbye and yet realistically portraying the inevitable passing of a perhaps antiquated and soon to be forgotten historical era. The male commentator has a well-trained, constrained and unhurried voice with medium pitch, and tends to present the appearance of a stiff-upper-lip somewhat dispassionate English gentleman.
The narration, the tone and texture, the colors, the costumes, the deliberate movements, the choice of musical backing, the props, the participants: their ranks and titles, clothing and decoration, brand names of what they wear, spouses and children, vehicles, entourage, facial expressions, mannerisms and many more minute but supposedly pertinent significant and interesting details on such historical occasions.
More importantly is the brief but positive biographical narration about the monarch’s life and his achievements, which should include all the good he had done to others. Humans in general like to read good positive factual reports of what a person, monarch or beggar has done for others, which is the gist of a purposeful life; an ascending to another throne.

Verses for thoughts:Psalms Chapter 24:1-4
(A Psalm of David) The earth [is] the LORD’S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.
2 For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.
3 Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place?
4 He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.

the path of water

path-of-water

The Path of water is there. I read this with surprise one day. There is a path everywhere seen and unseen. One day a little boy told me he wanted to become a pilot when he grew up. Then he explained to me seriously, “Of course I need to learn the path of the sky first.” he knows there is a path in the sky.

I took this picture one morning as I looked out of the hotel window. I went there to attend a wedding, thousands of miles away from where I stay. The dawn was not yet ready for my simple cell phone camera. I took the picture anyway. And the photo turns up as I look closely seeing if I can find a path in the water. The water is still and calm and the houses near and far are sleeping. It is a beautiful day and the sky is clothed in the colors of love and romance.

Bible verses on “path”:
Psalm 77:19
Your way was in the sea, Your path in the great waters, And Your footsteps were not known.
Psalm 65:11
You crown the year with Your goodness, And Your paths drip with abundance.
Psalm 8:8
The birds of the air, And the fish of the sea That pass through the paths of the seas.
Psalm 16:11
You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

a happy song for the tiny

edge-flowers
Tiny flowers by the wayside. We often walk pass them. Sometimes we step on them. Not because we are callous and uncaring. We are conditioned to see big things. Big and loud colorful stuff. In my recent travel I visited two entirely different countries and in both places I found some tiny flowers which looked so insignificant that they could have been easily excluded from my camera. When I returned and looked at the photos I found the exceptionalism in me stopping and looking at something small and quiet.

I ask myself why I have taken photos of some tiny flowers by the wayside. When I walk in the park across my patio why I do bother to look at the grass and the tiny leaves that are sprouting out from the crevices between the rocks and record their existence for a moment?

I did not come with perfect eyesight since young. The class teacher discovered this when I went to school. Artificial lenses helped me to function to some extent but it finally reached a point when I had to do a RLE (Refractive Lens Exchange). Taking photos of tiny things was not an easy task previously. After the RLE the tiny world becomes bright and clear and attractive. I see butterflies and bees and other tinier creatures too. Such a tiny world may be considered by others as tiny and ordinary and part of mundane living, they are fascinating to me. I can spend a whole morning walking and watching little things and feel my spirit rejoicing inside. A happy song will birth and lift me to another level into another realm of reality.

Bible verses from Psalm 104 (excerpts from NKJV):

He makes springs pour water into the ravines;
it flows between the mountains.
11
They give water to all the beasts of the field;
the wild donkeys quench their thirst.
12
The birds of the sky nest by the waters;
they sing among the branches.
13
He waters the mountains from his upper chambers;
the land is satisfied by the fruit of his work.
14
He makes grass grow for the cattle,
and plants for people to cultivate—
bringing forth food from the earth:
15
wine that gladdens human hearts,
oil to make their faces shine,
and bread that sustains their hearts.
16
The trees of the Lord are well watered,
the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.
17
There the birds make their nests;
the stork has its home in the junipers.
18
The high mountains belong to the wild goats;
the crags are a refuge for the hyrax.

24
How many are your works, Lord!
In wisdom you made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures.
25
There is the sea, vast and spacious,
teeming with creatures beyond number—
living things both large and small.

30
When you send your Spirit,
they are created,
and you renew the face of the ground.

31
May the glory of the Lord endure forever;
may the Lord rejoice in his works—
32
he who looks at the earth, and it trembles,
who touches the mountains, and they smoke.

33
I will sing to the Lord all my life;
I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
34
May my meditation be pleasing to him,
as I rejoice in the Lord.

edge of light and season

Edge
edge-of-colorsThe edge that demarcates light from darkness fascinates me. The contrast is so clear in this picture taken in last September. The dark side is a wall of hedges. I was new to this place and was walking along the side of the road. The trees on the other side were turning into autumn’s yellow but the willow tree was quite adamant to stand out in its lush greenery.  I cannot figure out now what the white spots on the ground are. But they too contribute to the contrast in colors between the black and the white. The path too, clearly marked by a white side and a dark part shadowed by the tree. There seems a marking of a boundary between two sets of realms, one in the bright sunshine and the other one in the dark. Again it makes me think of our lives. Some are in the bright sunny realm where the light is and some in the dark and shady realm. One thing is certain, all living things need sunshine to grow and thrive, even the trees and the grass. With the seasonal changes one may enter a bleak and bare grey and colorless period. But the good news is the sun and the light with all the glorious and rich colors always come back with another season. Being an optimist I believe that this too applies to life.

Genesis 1:14 Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years;

balancing on edge

Edge
edge-balanceSomeone sent this photo to me. It is interesting as it is like someone performing a balancing act with one limb standing. It reminds me of life. Often we have not much choice in our circumstances. We can opt to stand (even if handicapped) or fall. In this case this rock opts to stand precariously along the edge of a hill/mountain slope. Amazing how nature portrays our daily lives. How long has it been standing? Pretty long, I am told. It is in a national park, a regular tourist visit place. What keeps it from tumbling over and roll down the slope or worse crashing down the chasm and crumbling to pieces? Does this rock fear of its plausible fate? There seems a hidden gigantic hand that holds it there, in place, over the ages, along an edge and always on edge. Again, I can’t help but marvel at the many things we are yet to find out about a realm which we cannot see with our physical eyes.

Bible verses that come to my mind:
Isaiah 44:8 Do not fear, nor be afraid; Have I not told you from that time, and declared it? You are My witnesses. Is there a God besides Me? Indeed there is no other Rock; I know not one.’”
Isaiah 48:21 And they did not thirst When He led them through the deserts; He caused the waters to flow from the rock for them; He also split the rock, and the waters gushed out.

a tale of two gardens

a morning at SetiaThis picture was taken in a tropical garden where there is ample sunshine and rainfall. It is a private park open to the public in a residential estate. The developers have maintained the park well and given the residents and nearby visitors a place where they daily recreate, exercise, and meet for community and social connection. It is quite a refreshing change from the Western scenario. The people are less mobile-phone-bound. A morning means bright sunshine and green trees. There are joggers and even families with small pre-school children. The seniors practice their daily folk dances or other forms of cultural exercises. There are cafes all around the park. There are private schools nearby too. The park is right in the centre of activities and living. I was told by someone that this little park has won an official landscaping prize and the property value rises consistently.  The efforts of consistent up-keeping maintenance by the developers are being recognized and rewarded. A large park nearby has gone to ruins and become a den of thieves and drug addicts because of the negligence of maintenance by the developers after some years. The value of their properties drop drastically. The contrast between the two parks is so obvious. So are the fortunes of the two developers.

Morning

I am reminded this morning of this little verse which describes a prosperous and successful king* in the ancient times:

“And every work that he began in the service of the house of God, in the law and in the commandment, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart. So he prospered.” 2 Chronicles 31:21

Have a good day!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
*For those who are interested to know a bit about history, here are some notes from Wikipedia on King Hezekiah:
Hezekiah purified and repaired the Temple, purged its idols, and reformed the priesthood.[7] In an effort to abolish what he considered idolatry from his kingdom, he destroyed the high places (or bamot) and “bronze serpent” (or “Nehushtan”), recorded as being made by Moses, which became objects of idolatrous worship. In place of this, he centralized the worship of God at the Jerusalem Temple. Hezekiah also resumed the Passover pilgrimage and the tradition of inviting the scattered tribes of Israel to take part in a Passover festival. He sent messengers to Ephraim and Manasseh inviting them to Jerusalem for the celebration of the Passover. The messengers, however, were not only not listened to, but were even laughed at; only a few men of Asher, Manasseh, and Zebulun came to Jerusalem. Nevertheless, the Passover was celebrated with great solemnity and such rejoicing as had not been in Jerusalem since the days of Solomon.[5] Hezekiah is portrayed by the Hebrew Bible as a great and good king. Knowing that Jerusalem would eventually be subject to siege, Hezekiah had been preparing for war for some time by fortifying the walls of Jerusalem, building towers, and constructing a tunnel to bring fresh water to the city from a spring outside its walls.[7] He made at least two major preparations that would help Jerusalem to resist conquest: the construction of the Siloam Tunnel, and construction of the Broad Wall.
It is interesting that King Hezekiah built two great constructions: the famous Jerusalem underground water tunnel and the famous Jerusalem Broad Wall. Points for pondering today. Key words: Wall and Tunnel.

a writer’s moral decision: sowing good words

a rich sowing field
a field for Spring sowing

It is difficult to select what to post and what not to post in terms of links and introduction of other writers. We know that the fictions, poems or even essays may not represent the true lives of the one who pens/posts them. As many writers have uttered, their writings are mere imaginations and compilations of stuff they read and research of the works of many others. They do not necessarily live that way. But somehow I still know deep down a part of me comes out no matter how good and deliberate I have been hiding it from my writing or compilations. On this matter, I speak for myself and not others. There is no such thing as being completely neutral in writing/posting. For example, I do not agree with certain traditionally immoral and amoral values and I have thus avoided ‘publicizing’ them. I have also made my lifelong goal as: to protect my little ones from being exposed to them, so that perhaps I can save them from harm and hurt later in their adult lives.

Admittedly, I have read some good writings by some talented and creative writers. I find that the way they present their thoughts, hurts, struggles in their personal lives appeal to my compassion as human being. I can empathize with their struggles and the yearning for freedom to love and be loved, and freedom from hurt and pain. Yet I find that I cannot be honest to my heart and post their writings. Why? I am still a person with my own subjectivity based on my moral and religious belief and priorities. Someone may not understand this adamant adherence on my part to values which some may have discarded as being archaic and not conducive to developing a more creative and perhaps wider zone of liberal experimental and experiential learning through writing like in other forms of art expressions. I can see their points and their motivations and motives in their perspective of the writing paradigm. I do not dispute their perspective. On the other hand, I remain firmly established in my perspective of my world. I believe this peaceful co-existence between two patches of green turfs remains undisturbed as long as both of us are willing to give mutual respect to each other’s world view regardless of the vast and somewhat irreconcilable dichotomies in this world.

Personally as a traditional responsible elder, I shall continue to avoid exposing my own young ones from what I consider as contrary to the moral values I have adhered to with my extended family. Why? I still believe the moral values since creation have sustained our continuing survival as a human race on earth thus far. A further reason beyond physical survival is my belief in spiritual survival in eternity as well. My adherence is not to mere dead letters. My conviction is to a living reality in my spirit. But I am not going to have a long discourse in this blog on spiritual survival and the reality of another realm. So I would just say I cannot post or publish some thoughts, behavior and lifestyle even though they are good creative presentations and writings from really talented writers.

At times, I do sigh as I look at the rich fertile field for sowing of good seeds in spring time . The field is well cleared and plowed. Such a vast land. Such hope for a good harvest. All we need is the sower of good seeds. The same applies to the writing field in life.

Bible verses:2 Corinthians 9:9-11 New King James Version (NKJV)

9 As it is written:

“He has dispersed abroad,
He has given to the poor;
His righteousness endures forever.”[a]
10 Now may[b] He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, 11 while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God.

Footnotes:

2 Corinthians 9:9 Psalm 112:9
2 Corinthians 9:10 NU-Text reads Now He who supplies . . . will supply . . . .

a writing contest between the sexes?

a backyard viewI have my suspicion confirmed when I read this following information about who the avid readers are and how female writers fare compared to male counterparts in terms of reviews and publicity. The statistics tells a story of the tough reality some or most women, in this case, writers, face in our society. You may wish to do some research on your own over the internet. It is interesting to note that there are more women readers than men in Britain. What makes the British women read more? This is a worthy topic to research into. Do women read reviews and buy books accordingly? Or do they have their own mind and ignore the critics? Interesting. This reminds me of the famous Bible character Mary who ignored the male critics and insisted on pouring her priceless perfume over her Lord as her highest form of appreciation and honor. The rest is history.

The following are quotes/excerpts:
Quotes from: Research shows male writers still dominate books world : Statistics from US campaigners Vida confirm dramatic gender imbalance in literary critics and the authors reviewed (The Guardian, February 4, 2011)

“The gender imbalance at the heart of the British and American literary establishment has been laid bare by a new study confirming that leading literary magazines focus their review coverage on books written by men, and commission more men than women to write about them. Statistics compiled by Vida, an American organisation for women in the literary arts, found gender imbalances in every one of the publications cited, ”

Quotes from: Male writers continue to dominate literary criticism, Vida study finds (The Guardian, April 7, 2015)

“The continuing bias towards men in the British and American literary establishment has been confirmed by a study released on Tuesday. Vida, a US organisation championing women in literature, examined a wide range of publications from both sides of the Atlantic, including.., and found that in 2014 the majority still had heavily male-centred literary coverage, both in their use of reviewers and the books that were reviewed. The figures are at odds with the publishing industry in the UK, where some of the biggest-selling authors of 2014 were Hilary Mantel, Donna Tartt and Kate Mosse. Women are also responsible for buying two-thirds of the books sold in Britain and figures compiled in 2009 found almost 50% of women were avid readers, compared with 26% of men.

The figures did show a gradual but still notable shift. Of the 15 major magazines surveyed, 14 had seen an increase in content by women over the past year, and for the first time in at least five years the New York Times Book Review had more female reviewers than male ones – an increase of 41 from the year before. Similarly the New Yorker had 17 more female contributors than in 2013, continuing a five-year trend, while in Granta original submissions were split almost equally between female and male writers.”

Erin Belieu, the co-founder of Vida, said: “We want editors, readers and writers to be aware of their habits and open their mind to other voices, and we at Vida do really think that is genuinely happening. And I would say overall we have seen a lot of positive trends over the duration of the five years we’ve compiled these these figures. Absolutely there is still this gender bias inherent in literary magazines. We are talking about people who have done things a certain way for many years and literary magazines tend to be places where one vision gets put forward and even commissioning editors can get trapped in this culture. But generationally I think it is a problem that is going to be taking care of itself more and more. People under the age of 40 have been raised in an entirely different environment.” She added: “Is it true that women are raised to feel culturally very uncomfortable putting themselves forward? Maybe not as true as it used to be – but of course it still has an impact. But we see Vida as a form of erosion, making gradual but permanent change.”

The Latest: a better picture:

Female authors make inroads at major publications – survey
Bylines by women at the New York Times Book Review and the New Republic are among the ‘dramatic increases’ over the last year, according to Vida’s annual survey of the publishing gender split (The Guardian, March 31, 2016)

For the first time, this year’s Vida count also looked at female reviewers and authors’ race and ethnicity, sexual identity and ability after surveying almost 700 female writers, finding that straight, white, able-bodied women were best represented. In these respects, some female writers better represented in print, Vida said in its report, asking: “To what extent is the status quo rendered bankrupt by such glaring absences? If the literary landscape is dominated by specific groups, how can we be healthy as a society and benefit from both our differences and commonalities? Isn’t one of literature’s effects to humanise populations beyond our own?”

foundation laying in Spring

Spring nearA friend sent me a series of audio lessons on the ministry of words. Focused teaching on how to be a profitable and successful ghost-writer/commercial copy-writer/editor/consultant/writing for fund raising etc. I am thankful. Occasionally I get invited to write for a church or a non-profit organization the appeal letter or web pages for donations to good course. The lecturer started as a humble unknown script and ad writer and went on to join a Christian organization to be their pamphlet and online web-page writer for sometime before he was finally given an opening to ghost-write an autobiography for a world famous evangelist. he has since been commissioned to write more books under that big name. He is of course now lecturing and having his own consultancy for others in the same writing industry. Will any of the others get this kind of exposure and opportunity? I have no answer. I have forwarded an article of his to another person struggling to raise funds for the Christian charity organization he is currently attached to. Knowing and actually producing results are two different things. I know from my own experience. One trusted way of learning is hands-on practicing what we learn. I am thankful for the exposure and opportunity I have personally encountered. My advice to my readers is, “Hands on and press on.” My personal conviction: Never look down on even a small opening. I never know what the next turn will bring. I like the analogy of building a house. I start by laying a foundation. A small opening is like adding a rock to the foundation. It counts.

Zechariah 48 Moreover the word of the Lord came to me, saying:
9 “The hands of Zerubbabel
Have laid the foundation of this temple;[a]
His hands shall also finish it.
Then you will know
That the Lord of hosts has sent Me to you.
10 For who has despised the day of small things?
For these seven rejoice to see
The plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel.
They are the eyes of the Lord,
Which scan to and fro throughout the whole earth.”

Words are life

bible-verses-about-loveI am reading a book translated from Spanish. The narrator (in first person who started as a young boy of ten years old) described his finding a book which so intrigued him he grew up with it and engaged himself with finding its author’s own life story. He was led to investigate the background of the author and got involved with people associated with the author’s past. The book was about finding the author of another book and his story. A very simple theme. What did the narrator do? He merely went and asked questions from people the other author used to know. I find this book convincingly real even though it was meant to tell another person’s story. By telling others’ life stories the narrator tells his own life story too. Clever. Stories are being written daily even at this very moment by many individuals. Some intersperse with others. Some stand alone. All are about living one way or the other. All use words. Words become alive when they describe or record life. How did humans first discover this way of preserving  life, even though it can only be mere moments captured at interval in time and space? Was it by chance? A mystery to our mind. But I do believe that the Creator programed human with this in mind. What is the purpose behind each record of life? Again a mystery. Some records (books) fail to last or worse, to be read at all. Some records last a longer time. But none can boast immortality. So what is the point of writing a book? Why do I write words? I write because I love. Even if it’s a fleeting moment. I love life. Words are life.

John 6:63
The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life.

a conversation with Word

20150830_191158

writer: I have been looking for you whole day.

Word: Why? Don’t you know I am always here?

writer: But I cannot see you.

Word: I can see you.

writer: Where are you exactly? In all these books? These famous quotes from other writers?

Word: I am everywhere.

writer: How can I see you?

Word: See with your heart and not your mind. Nice talking to you. What a glorious day! I think I am taking a walk in the garden now. Bye.

Beautiful words stir my heart. I will recite a lovely poem about the king, for my tongue is like the pen of a skillful poet. (Psalm 45:1)

a garden of good words

autumn garden in lightI chanced upon this garden in my walk. The autumn sun brought out the best of the flowers and the grass. Even the trees were basked in a cheerful sheen of light. When I look at this scene today I realize how every living plant leans toward where the sun is. The garden becomes alive and thriving because of the light that draws out the best in the living. Some books have this effect on me. When I read through the pages I find the light of life glistening everywhere. I am drawn to them. A garden of good words.

Proverbs 16:24 Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, Sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.