Simple Days

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I am sitting here with mixed feelings while writing this blog entry. While I am grateful to have lived through the 80s and 90s, I am also anxious to be alive in the current 21st century. No doubt that there has been a lot of advancements in terms of technology and living through the 80s until now gave me the opportunity to see much of humanity’s milestones.

I wouldn’t say that we are heading to a perfect world because there are things that were better in the old days especially in terms of human values – integrity, empathy, and kindness. So we thought that advancements would bring about simplicity, streamlined processes, and convenience. But in reality, we are still far from such ideals.

The current political landscape in many countries seemed to be going through a tumultuous and trying time. On the surface, everything seemed to be so complicated when in fact simplicity is what most are seeking to achieve.

In the name of freedom and security, the right to bear and own arms is inscribed deep in the constitution but yet, fear seemed to take center stage and continues to inspire rash actions and reactions. Where have humanity gone wrong?

We and everything else around us seemed to be mutating but the final morph seemed unclear and undefined. We use convincing words like “great again” without even realizing that great was something of the past and epic is what the future should be. But has epic been clearly defined?

This is a mutation, not an evolution because the latter is progression while the former opens up to the possibilities of regression. An evolution improves while mutation could be a deterioration.

Like the timeless image of a yellow taxi or cab moving through the busy streets around Times Square not knowing its final destination, so it is the uncertainties of our lives in the midst of all the noises surrounding us. The interesting thing about such an image is that, the billboards are always changing to keep up with the current trends and fads but life goes on no matter. There is stillness in the midst of chaos if only we find a focal point.

Perhaps, it is no longer ignorance when we choose to ignore, and to pick the battle worth fighting for.

Perhaps, when a door refuses to open, we should seek another. If it is that great and safe to begin with, it will always remain open without fear or favor.

Sometimes and somethings are just not meant to be.

I only wish that it was as simple as the good old simple days when black and white are the only colors we have for choices.

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” ~ 1 Corinthians 13:13

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In that little nook, lives sorrow

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Culturally, it is taboo to be “negative” and talk about death on the first day of Chinese New Year or Lunar New Year. But when it is about someone you know personally, it can no longer the case.

It is not easy when visiting someone terminally ill on a so called “auspicious” day.

How can you wish someone dying “Happy New Year” or even “Gong Xi Fa Cai” knowing very well he is suffering and will never recover to prosper in life?

And at the same time not make him feel as though you are visiting out of pity eventhough you are not.

I am not trying to be a wet blanket on a joyous day but reality hit hard and there can be no pretending.

Whether happiness or sadness, they are only temporal, just like our lives on earth.

For anyone who seeks for a sense of belonging and a place to call home, he or she may be homeless or stateless on paper but God will eventually call him or her home (eternally) to be by His side.

God handpicks the best to be with Him and I like to believe that He tends to take the good ones earlier.

Our lives are beautiful stories of love and sacrifices.

While we are still able, the more we should cherish the time and be generous with our love for others.

Therefore, on this joyous day – the first day of the Lunar New Year, I would like to wish you all much blessings in wealth and health. May we all be blessed with Joy, Love, and Peace.

Tools

For the past 2 years now I have seen retrenchment rearing its ugly head. The anxieties caused by the uncertainties that it brings is heart wrenching. It is a normal progression in one’s life to start a family when he or she feels secure and safe enough. We all know very well how difficult it is to maintain and nurture a good family. When one loses a source of income, imagine the amount of stress it would cause not only to the individual affected but his or her family as well.

As much as it is interesting to be living in this era when we get to “see it all”, it is also one of the most challenging of times. We boast about technology all the time and how its disruptions can affect all of us.

That is when I get a little confused to be honest.

What sets humans and animals apart is our ability to innovate and find solutions to complex problems. We learn that in the wild, chimpanzees are able to find solutions by using things around them as tools.

Taking a step back and looking at technology as nothing but a myriad selection of tools, I feel that it should ease our lives significantly. In other words, we should be efficient and effective using these tools and at the same time improve our living conditions especially time for ourselves and our family. But with smartphones and broadband, it seems that it is not the case. Instead of having better lives with information at our finger tips, we are finding ourselves being overwhelmed by the demands of work whenever we receive an email at any time and day of the week. There is a great need for an instant response these days and children are kept preoccupied with devices even during meal times.

I cannot help but to see a very uncertain future. So much so that it reminds me of the movie The Terminator starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. I can now imagine how this world might be taken over by the machines and humans end up fighting them in resistance. If you think about it, with the dawn of autonomous cars, we are in fact heading towards that direction.

My question is, if all these advancements are for the betterment of our lives, what would the currency of the world be in the future?

If advanced technologies can take over all our jobs, are we expected to sit idle without a source of income? And how then do we enjoy the technological advancements that promise an ideal and convenient life – we need money to buy a robot as domestic helper, no?

Will food be readily available for free on the shelves since robots can produce them without cost?

Will cost of goods be a thing of the past?

I cannot imagine the hardship people go through feeling helpless and hopeless without a purpose and sense of achievement through utilizing their unique talents. I believe that we really need to rethink and redefine how we approach technology as a tool to assist us instead of being enslaved by our addiction, dependence, and reliance on it.

Lest, we end up being reduced to nothing but a binary number – Dead (0) or Alive (1).

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Witness

Have you ever purchase something online? Have you ever made hotel reservation online?

How do you determine whether to proceed engaging or purchasing an item or service with a particular online site?

Reviews and testimonials.

The reviews and testimonials of experiences influence your decision making.

In the church, the word testimony is being used to describe the first hand experience of God’s blessing one encounters and shares with fellow church goers for the reason of enriching and strengthen each others faith and beliefs in the divine.

Sometimes I do become jaded and lost as to why I go to church. Why must I go to church and who is church?

We are all called to be witness and be someone else’ reason for a testimony that God exists. I always remind myself my first experience in the church. The welcoming and sense of belonging the PEOPLE provided and extended to me made it such a wonderful experience that I was compelled to response – to stay and enjoy the rest of it.

If it was not because of that first experience, I would not have had the interest to continue seeking.

Just like someone extending a job opportunity, the person hiring would ask if one is INTERESTED to pursue the said opportunity. If there is a mutual interest from both parties, an interview will most probably take place to further discuss if it is a fit before extending an agreeable package.

Likewise, before we embrace a faith, it starts with the seed of interest and in order for that seed to be planted, we must first experience someone extending the Christ-like genuine hospitality and kindness.

There is a reason why we observe the year of Mercy throughout 2016 and some bishops have even called for the faithfuls to return “home” to the church.

How we as a church that reflects this calling to welcome others very much depends on how we be witnesses to the faith.

We will not be able to effectively be witnesses until we put into perspective the question – WHO IS CHURCH?

Is the church God?

No.

We are church.

Church is where God dwells.

Therefore, we must act accordingly to reflect that God truly dwells in the church.

A place we can declare proudly – All Are Welcome…

Whenever you lose faith because the humans in the church have acted in a way that made you feel uncomfortable, unwelcome, and disappointed, take heart and be reminded of that first moment when God touched you with His genuine hospitality and kindness.

Focus on that moment and know the difference between the human and the Divine.

Always seek and believe in the Divine and not in humans…

Perception & Perspective

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Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”~John 20:29

If you have ever stood in the middle of Times Square for the first time, you will surely feel surreal when all that you have seen and heard about it becomes a reality. And when you are the only one standing still in the midst of all the rush, hustle, and bustle, you would become that little dot lost in the sea of people.

The earth is estimated to be inhabited by 7.4 billion people. Just what are the odds of each and every one of us being alive right now?

Out of 7.4 billion people worldwide, there are 65.3 million people displaced and 21.3 million refugees. Refugees from Syria alone, numbered 4.9 million (statistics from UNHCR website).

Have you ever given thought that with a stroke of misfortune or “bad luck”, your circumstances may be very different compared to what it is right now?

Just giving thought as to how one is conceived in terms of time and place undetermined and uncontrollable, is in itself uniquely profound and mysterious.

Whenever I am feeling ungrateful or dissatisfied, I tend to think how my life would be if I was born into the many different undesirable circumstances – no freedom to profess one’s religion, unable to commute freely without fear, forced into modern day slavery, living hungry through famine, homeless, and etc.

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But often times, we do not see ourselves as special and extraordinary. Could it be that we are blinded to what we see regularly? We take for granted the same things we should cherish and appreciate.

Indeed, blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.

Perhaps we should all first believe that we are truly blessed and only then our eyes would be opened to all the beautiful things our world has got to offer.

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It is nothing but perception isn’t it?

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We are all made for a purpose. We are blessed with a multitude of talents that when combined, can build and create a beautiful, majestic, and magnificent world.

We must first believe…

Happy New Year 2017

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There is suppose to be this newness in the air but I do not seem to feel much of it. It is as though I have became immune to another new year. The clock struck 12 and it was nothing but another regular day. Time is just a number and reference. I have not at this point thought about any resolution for the new year. I guess that is the effects of routines – they numb us.

But we really should be feeling joyful. Only the other day over dinner, I was relating to a friend how lucky we are to be able to live through this era. We have seen many advancements in technology and witnessed countless of paradigm shifts. We have seen how the medias evolved – from cassette tapes to mp3. The evolution of music players – the turntable, walkman, discman, and now, the smartphones not only play music but able to do much more.

I guess that is the kind of realization that helps us to be grateful.

The priest puts it very simply this morning that we should not start the year with resolutions but instead with REALIZATIONS.

We should realize how lucky we are to be able to live through each day filled with grace and blessings. Even being able to sit here and write this entry in the comfort of a home should be taken as a realization.

I only have one resolution for this year – GROWTH.

I want to grow as a person through the many aspects of my life – self, family, community, and career.

My hope for you is that you have many realizations that will help you fulfill your resolutions for 2017.

May the year be filled with joy, kindness, love, forgiveness, and hope.

HAPPY & BLESSED NEW YEAR 2017!