Split Second

I usually spend my idle time thinking about life. The trip this week has given me a few opportunities to reflect on life and my outlook of it. There are times when I felt that I have taken a lot of things for granted and have been ungrateful of the blessings in my life.

And as I reflected further and drilled down into the miniscule aspects of life, I realized that how great of a change just one second in time can bring to our lives.

In other words, in a split second, many things can happen be it good or bad. In a split of a second, I’ll probably be born into a life without choices – freedom of religion being one. In a split of a second, I might be in a plane crash or an accident. In a split of a second, I may die in my sleep.

As such, the first order of things for me whenever I visit a foreign land is to always be still in the presence of God and to give Him thanks for another day of life.
This is not a show of my holiness or the lack of. Infact, I am far from a holy person by any standard. Afterall, I am just a human with imperfections. It is just me believing that in all things uncontrollable, there is a God.

We tend to overthink and overanalyze things. We want to get an explaination and justification for everything in our lives. What we cannot see or touch is usually doubtful.

As we wind down for the weekend and on my flight back home, one statement came on strongly and I think it is worth sharing. I hope it puts into perspective why some of us believe in the divine.

“If we can explain for certain the randomness of death then, we can clearly define the existence of God.”

Divine Mercy Sunday: The Minimalist Christ

Every now and then, I get inspiration to create an artwork. Such a moment presented itself last evening and it became my short spiritual journey.

And this is the story of “The Minimalist Christ”.

1. As I gazed upon the cross in church last evening, a vision started to take shape. I couldn’t get it off my mind…

2. As we left church, I asked my wife to drive and go somewhere with a hardware shop so that I can get some materials…

I started to sketch in the car…

3. I came home to draw a better version of what I have sketched earlier…

4. I started “nailing” Jesus to the plank….

5. I then starting twisting wires around the nails but it just didn’t work as I expected. I wanted so much to give emphasis on the “crown of thorns” and it proved to be the hardest to shape. I kinda wondered why the people back then took the trouble making the crown of thorns…

6. The nails did not work in helping me shape the image I had envisioned so I started twisting and turning the wire using my hands. Nothing seemed to be going as planned. And in the end, something prompted me to end my work with a heart. Not a bad idea since we are celebrating Divine Mercy (Sacred Heart) Sunday.

Moral of the story is, do not emphasize on the crown of thorns but on the sacred heart instead. Love and not hate….

Mercy…

This was done using a single line of wire without breaking.

This is not the final product. I am looking for a cross that will match with the wire sculpture. I painted a cross on the wooden plank as a concept to see how the wire sculpture would look like on a cross.

I then decided to name this artwork – “The Minimalist Christ”….

7. And these are what’s left on the plank – holes from the nails. They reminded me of one of the verses used for the gospel reading this weekend:

Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”~John 20:27

This morning, I went to the hardware store to get some wood to make the cross and to complete the artwork.

8. It is done and complete.

“The Minimalist Christ”

LOVE.

Disillussioned

Amazing how another week is now behind us. Here I am sitting alone reflecting on the past week.

Spiritual wise, the highlight for me this week is reading about Pope Francis stating that “it is better to be an antheist than a bad Christian”. One statement that can be interpreted in so many ways but as simple as it is, I must agree.

It got me thinking about the factors that causes us to hold strong to goodness and justice. And perhaps, what breaks.

The world offers us so many distractions and temptations that not only challenge our moral values but also pose a threat of destroying the fabric of our communities.

I sometimes wondered why people feel no remorse for their wrongdoings. I can only tell myself that there is a very thin line between good and bad. The tipping point or the most challenging moment is when one convinced oneself enough (through various justifications) that his or her morally and legally wrongdoing is right.

My observation tells me that we live in a very conflicting world where everyone wants so much to be correct. While some of us look at things from a higher moral ground, others are not at all too particular. Thus, good and bad are open for interpretation and definition.

But I guess the hardest thing is for us to expect others to act in a certain way that is within our acceptable and comfortable boundaries. That is exactly what religions are for some – a set of instructions to lead a good life. If only there is a Life 101 book, we would all be living in perfect harmony.

Lent is upon us and for Catholics, it is a time of fasting and self-denial. At a certain corner of my mind, I am questioning the need for conformation and uniformity. I am not one who follows blindly but seek the purpose of every action. I am bad news for religious people who are over assertive and imposing. The one question that I have always asked during this time is “Why should I be made, accused or compelled into convincing myself of being an undeserving sinner?”

What is the purpose in that?

Yes, through self-denial I may become a humble person but can I not practice humility without “downsizing” myself?

It really is a struggle. Just when can we stop crucifying ourselves? Year in and year out, this is rinsed and repeated. What is the purpose exactly – just to keep us in line?

Perhaps it is not my purpose in life. The struggles that I have within me is not about religious values anymore. It is beyond that. I know I must love – that much I have learned from the religion I profess.

My struggle is missing the people I love far away.

My struggle is not able to make people I love happy.

My struggle is not being able to get a good response when at one’s deathbed, the question “Have I Loved You?” is asked.

Plainly because, saints are not saints if they are not recognized and canonized. I wonder how many saints we have missed in our lifetime because of our disillusioned expectations and wrong moral obligations.

I would like to leave you with a quote from a very touching movie I watched only last evening entitled “A Dog’s Purpose”. And the quote goes:

So, as all my life as a dog, here’s what I’ve learned. Have fun, obviously. Whenever possible, find someone to save and save them.
Lick the ones you love. Don’t get all sad faced about what happened and scrunchy faced about what could. Just be here now. Be here now…

If you have not watched it yet, make sure you go watch this beautiful movie. Don’t forget to bring along some extra napkins – I am pretty sure you’ll need them.

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).

binary

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.

timessquare2

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?

nyc2

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…

The Reason For The Season

christmas2016

Christmas is finally here. After all the hustle and bustle preparing, it is difficult not to feel the joy that the festive season brings.

For me personally and on a spiritual level, I felt that the preparations we have done as a family throughout Advent was most meaningful this year.

Our family tradition for Christmas each year has been attending the vigil mass on the eve of Christmas before having a meal with a very close friend and her family. This year was no exception. We had a wonderful meal, prayed just before midnight, and wished everyone a Merry Christmas.

It is very clear the theme this year seemed to be about RELATIONSHIPS. As we shared the sermons we have heard earlier at mass, we found that relationships seemed to be the common topic for both priests.

And I started to reflect on how many of the people I know today was a direct and indirect contact made through Christ – they are countless!

As I gaze upon the crib at church this evening, Jesus takes center stage and the spotlight focuses on Him. While Mary & Joseph, the sheperds, and wise men gathered around Him, so we too like them gather and share the love with one another.

It is not about the gifts but rather the giving of oneself unconditionally. The act of giving is an expression of God’s LOVE.

We give our time to nurture relationships with our friends and family. We make each other feel belong, special, and worthy of being loved.

Truly, Christmas was and is the beginning of many relationships.

I wish you and yours a blessed Christmas. A time relationships are rekindled and made new again. A time when new relationships are established and sustained. A time when ALL ARE WELCOME to embrace and be embraced in His love.

Jesus, the reason for the season!

Merry Christmas 2016

Merry Christmas 2016!


Last day at work for year 2016 and reviewing what a great year it was career wise. I am grateful and happy to have learned so much throughout 2016. The many small achievements and the numerous milestones added up to an awesome year.

And as I look forward to the holidays, I am feeling excited and at the same time restless because there will be a little break in the routine until the new year.

I believe the anticipation is exactly what Christmas is.

Are we prepared to once again receive Jesus on his “birthday”?

What are we doing in the days leading up to his arrival?

For me spiritually, I will be preparing myself for His arrival starting this evening when I complete the last task for the year and shut down the computer. I am looking forward to the Sacrament of Reconciliation that will mark the start of my journey towards Christmas.

A time I can admit to God that I am human and constantly in need of his Graces and Blessings.

And I wish all of you reading this post A Blessed Christmas – May You Be Filled With Joy and Peace This Holiday Season!