freedom is

goldfish jumping out of the water

finding one’s true self.

becoming comfortable in one’s own skin – with flaws, imperfections and all.

dreaming big and not being swallowed by these very dreams. freedom is submission to the dream Giver.

a decluttered heart. freedom is fully experiencing an abundant life, knowing more, not merely knowing about, the very Giver of this life.

courage to confess, knowing we are loved and forgiven.

courage to be different. to go on a different path. or to forge new paths. to follow a different timeline, not hurrying through life just because everyone else seems to know where they’re going.

being freed from trying to impress others to get to notice you.

getting out of the trap of “utang na loob”.

finding and making time and space to create even when conditions are less than ideal, in the whirlwind of day jobs and responsibilities.

learning to fully depend and call upon God.

not letting a blank page intimidate or bore you.

letting yourself discover how you learn best and what you love to learn best. freedom is embracing and pursuing this.

letting yourself fly, discover new places and patterns and rhythms of life, unshackled from the false security of routine.

learned through responsibilities and disciplines.

getting out of the black hole of social media, of false maturity and confidence, and of instant knowledge and spoon-fed discoveries. knowing and discovering are sweetest when done with patient observing and searching. freedom is reading books instead of skimming through things that are said about them.

embracing heavenly thoughts and the eternity in our hearts.

letting  go of the temporal and holding on to the eternal.

 

 

image from: http://blogs.yis.ac.jp/18heminke/2013/01/24/what-does-freedom-mean-to-me/

Theme for English B (by Langston Hughes)

The instructor said,

Go home and write
a page tonight.
And let that page come out of you—
Then, it will be true.

I wonder if it’s that simple?
I am twenty-two, colored, born in Winston-Salem.
I went to school there, then Durham, then here
to this college on the hill above Harlem.
I am the only colored student in my class.
The steps from the hill lead down into Harlem
through a park, then I cross St. Nicholas,
Eighth Avenue, Seventh, and I come to the Y,
the Harlem Branch Y, where I take the elevator
up to my room, sit down, and write this page:

It’s not easy to know what is true for you or me
at twenty-two, my age. But I guess I’m what
I feel and see and hear, Harlem, I hear you:
hear you, hear me—we two—you, me, talk on this page.
(I hear New York too.) Me—who?
Well, I like to eat, sleep, drink, and be in love.
I like to work, read, learn, and understand life.
I like a pipe for a Christmas present,
or records—Bessie, bop, or Bach.
I guess being colored doesn’t make me NOT like
the same things other folks like who are other races.
So will my page be colored that I write?
Being me, it will not be white.
But it will be
a part of you, instructor.
You are white—
yet a part of me, as I am a part of you.
That’s American.
Sometimes perhaps you don’t want to be a part of me.
Nor do I often want to be a part of you.
But we are, that’s true!
As I learn from you,
I guess you learn from me—
although you’re older—and white—
and somewhat more free.

This is my page for English B.

geeky heart

There’s still time enough to choose

Who we are.

~Switchfoot

Mine is a geeky heart. I love school. I love classes. I love learning. I love enriching my mind. Learning something new or relearning something already forgotten never loses its appeal to me. So when classes opened today and I attended the first session of the only class I’m taking, you can just imagine how excited I was. And the best thing about it is I chose to take this class. No one pushed me to it. It wasn’t required of me. I simply knew I want to take it. I need to take it.

The class is called Bible Study Methods. It is a class about how to study a book. Usually, you study a certain subject and you use reference texts to learn about it. But in this class, we’re going to learn how to study the text. Our professor shared this as one of the unique qualities of the class. But why study about how to study a book? Well, it can only be because the book to be studied is special. Unique. In a league of its own. God’s very Word.

Sixty six books, forty authors, written over a span of 1600 years. These features alone say the Bible is not your average type of book. Yes, it was written by several men and yes, it was written over a span of more than a thousand years but you can never find a single contradiction within it. Many people, experts even, are skeptical toward it. Powerful men, kings and emperors, sought to destroy it. And many people nowadays just don’t care about it and say it is ancient and thus, irrelevant. A certain philosopher once predicted that it would be extinct a hundred years from his time but when he died, his own printing press was used to print stacks upon stacks of Bibles.

One other memorable illustration for me was the use of numbers – the probability of a person fulfilling the Messianic prophecies. The numbers were staggering and one can only conclude that it can only be God who orchestrated and fulfilled such prophecies. I was surprised to find myself drawn towards the use of numbers and scientific facts: probabilities and electrons and numbers in scientific notation. I’m beginning to see where I can use my background in the sciences.

The professor told us we will experience digging through God’s word for ourselves. He said there will even be moments when we will discover some things about it and ask if anybody else has found that too. I was exhilarated. The thought of personally discovering God’s heart and mind as he revealed it through His word was just too much for me to contain. I wonder now why I never thought of Bible reading and studying as that before. It was humbling. I was welling up and I could feel my heart soar. I fought hard not to let my tears fall. If anyone saw me at that moment, they would’ve seen how smitten I was. So taken with the lover of my soul who chose to reveal Himself through a tapestry of literature he, himself, authored. And I just knew right there. I was affirmed. My desire to be a writer, an author like him, was indeed from God. (I wasn’t expecting it from Him then. I always looked for some kind of affirmation to these writerly aspirations but I didn’t expect to get it through a class lecture.) So this is the face of God which He meant for me to reflect to the world. I know that whatever I’m going to write in the future, whether it contains God’s name or not, will have traces of him and of the literature through which he revealed himself.

Before the class ended, the professor reminded us that the method of studying the Bible that we are going to learn will feel unnatural and tedious at first. And just like learning any other skill, swimming or riding a bike for instance, we would learn best by doing it ourselves. And so he gave us lots of readings and assignments. But this only formed a smile on my lips. After all, mine is a geeky, bookish heart.

poignancy of a blank slate

I chewed on that thought while going home from work today. It’s how my life looks like right now. A blank canvass. Nothing to look forward to. Nothing set to achieve.

For some time now this truth keeps slamming into me. Disappointing. Discouraging. At an age when I thought I’d already be doing well in a career I personally chose, I still do not know what direction to take. I told myself when I was a kid that I’d get married by the age of 27 or 28 but here I am, months away from turning 27 and Darcy-Foreman-Harris-(insert Capt. America’s last name here) all rolled into one is still nowhere in sight.

Pathetic, sorry life.

Or so I thought.

As I contemplated about my past mistakes and misses, gratitude somehow managed to creep into my heart making me realize that this blank slate of a life is nothing short of a miracle. Instead of a reality shambled into pieces because of wrong choices, I have a fresh, clean page before me.

But oh how I’ve spent days that quickly turned into months mourning this sense of emptiness. My life feels like a vast desert. And I simply can’t keep it to myself now. Spending time in this wilderness is painful. Hope is sapping out of me as quickly as acetone in an open bottle evaporates. Being in this wide expanse of nothingness leaves no room for scheming how to get out of here. I feel like nothing else is true except for that sense of being lost. It feels like trying not to get drowned in a dry ocean of desolation. You try to keep your head above the waves which aren’t really there because there’s nothing. Emptiness contains nothing.

But as the laws of matter go, something can only be filled when it is empty. Anything full has no space for anything more.

Instead of pages filled with dirty smears, inkblots, and scrawls, what I hold are clean, blank leaves.

What a miracle. What a gift.

Blank, empty pages waiting to be filled.

With what? I know not yet. Clean surfaces can be intimidating to work on. It may take a long time before I get the courage to finally start filling these pages but I find that I wouldn’t trade these possible future masterpieces for present, contrived artworks.

I’m still learning to be thankful for this emptiness.

(May 14, 2014)

from His to mine own heart

Dreams flash before my eyes

on a Thursday morning ride

when life suddenly slowed down

on a week seeming not to end.

 

I’m left wondering why

all of a sudden

this place feels like home again

I’m finally not outside looking in.

 

Is it another trick?

It is another trap?

Or is this how it should feel

when you’re finally learning to trust?

 

Walls fall down

Hands unclench, arms relax

Opening up to hear what is

from His to mine own heart.

a jar of thoughts

memory post

Back in 2007, while dealing with grief, I thought of doing something that might help assuage the waves of sadness that seem to come one after another no matter what time of the day or no matter where I am. I really haven’t thought of it as a therapeutic solution back then but I guess it was one of the things that really helped brought me closer towards healing.

One of the most difficult things back then was not being able to say the things I feel I wanted to shout out. To no one in particular. But I really felt I need to let them out of my head just to lessen its load of thoughts piling up. And so I decided to write those things on small pieces of colored paper, fold them up and place them in jar. I told myself that I’d give my jar of thoughts to the person if ever he decides to come back or throw it away in case I get tired of them. The latter happened which took about a year after I wrote the first note.

Talk about silliness.

But now, this little exercise might redeem itself from that. It just might be what I need. One morning, almost a week ago, while washing dishes, it suddenly came to mind while I was thinking of a way to start writing my first book. There. I’ve said it aloud. One of the big things I recently asked from God (which I’m currently still practicing because I realized I haven’t really done it before) is that I’d be able to write my first book before I turn 30.

What’s it gonna be about? Currently, it’s not yet put together and I’m also just letting it grow.

Now to look for a big glass jar, some colored paper and oh wow. I’ve lots of pens now from birthday and Christmas gifts. 🙂

 
photo by Pam Garnett (Creative Commons licensed)

i ain’t florence nightingale

You’re wrong. I’m not a Florence Nightingale. Even while you were telling bits and pieces of her story I don’t know why you thought I am like her. (Ate M can pass off as someone like her but not me.) And now that I’ve read her story too, I’m aghast she should be compared with me who’s not even half or a third as brave as her. She must be ‘cringing in her grave’ when you unwittingly compared her to such a one as me.

Let me tell you why.

For one, she never thought of being in the spotlight while I have always wanted a top-notch career. I grew up with the standard of not settling for anything less than a white-collar job though I don’t exactly know why I had that notion ever since I was little. Florence chose a path that was disdained by society because only slow-headed ones and drunkards were seen fit to take such a role. I, on the other hand, have always craved to be respected as an expert in my chosen field, whatever it was to be. She wanted to help other people and make things better for them; I’ve only cared about succeeding and only bothered about protecting myself so as not to get hurt or experience as little discomfort as possible.  At seventeen, she already sensed a calling full of purpose; I don’t even want to recall the impertinence of my concerns when I was at that age.

Secondly, I marvel at her decision of declining a life with the man she loved, who loved her so much he waited seven years for her and who I think has a similar calling in life. I, on the other hand, have always been a hopeless romantic. And while I won’t throw myself to any man less than the one who meets my standards, I don’t think I would have the strength to say no to the one I know I love, who loves me as much or even more and who thinks we would be great partners-in-crime. That is, if ever such a person exists.

Yes, the conditions of the life of a married woman and the dynamics and expectations of society then and now are so different. But have I lived in her time and she in mine (i.e. I would face less or no freedom at all in pursuing a career and she could experience a married life where both husband and wife can actively practice a career/ministry/craft, etc.), I think we would still have decided as we would. She’d still say no and I still wouldn’t let go of the person who I want to spend the rest of my life with. Again, only if such a person does exist.

But yes, until now, I see this schmuckness I have over romance as a weakness. So it’s not like I’m comfortable being like this. And neither is expressing these opinions.

As I’ve mentioned earlier, Florence Nightingale is brave, resolute, single-minded and strong-willed while I am a fainthearted, self-doubting, scaredy-cat, can’t-even-let-others-read-what-I-write-for-fear-I-might-be-found-lacking wannabe. She found her calling and fought every obstacle down so she can go ahead and just do it. I found my calling and I think I’m crazy for even thinking I’m called to it. I’m so scared I’m never going to make it, I have thought a lot of times dismissing the thing altogether even before starting.

She was right. She indeed found her calling and as a result, she saved thousands of lives, redeemed a previously shunned occupation, and pioneered a whole new era of medical/nursing care.

I may really be wrong. I may be a fake who’s just trying hard to fit into something that may not be for me after all. And lives may be ruined, a respectable job may be shunned, and a whole don’t-imitate, what-went-wrong story may be written if I continue to pursue this calling which I still can’t seem to fully claim as something I have been meant to do.

Tell me really, what made you think I am like Florence Nightingale? Aside from avoiding social events, preferring books over dresses and being geeky?

But anyway, thank you for mentioning her story to me.

Now, if only there’s a way to be a Florence Nightingale of writing, one who thinks nothing about self-glory, only of honoring the One who called her by accomplishing what He has prepared for her to do, I would gladly follow that path.

me and january

Light chases shadows. Shadows chase light. They run around in circles, or in spheroids if you will, since ours is a three dimensional world (or is it four?). I’ve forgotten my Physics. They run around, one after the other but you’re never quite sure which one’s chasing or which one’s running away at any one point.

I’ve been spending time outdoors on many afternoons this January. I’ve foregone some lunches to sit and read outside, choosing to nourish a starving soul over satisfying an empty stomach. Thankfully, I’ve always come away filled. There’s something about the January sun, bathing everything in its iridescent, soft glow making plants and trees, flowers and leaves, soil and pavement and grass take on a pearly sheen that you just want to bask in it.

Me and my dreams. Why try to capture such a scene with words instead of a camera and click away. After all, who wants to waste time imagining instead of seeing?

And I am that. Always craving for answers and dreading any stage of hoping. Always controlling. Always hesitant to any organic shape-taking. Crazy about fulfilling schedules, shunning away and cringing on any disturbance. Comfortable with lists and must-do’s, and clear cut step-1-2-3’s. Scared to death of anything unstructured.

So when this year dawned on me being in a different place and set of circumstances from where I’ve planned to be, my days have been shadows and lights playing with my eyes, my writing as unsteady and fickle minded like the January sun, sometimes peeking shyly, sometimes appearing confidently, sometimes not bothering to show up at all. And I am left bewildered and surprised, mostly clueless on how I’m supposed to make the most of it. And it makes me wonder if I’ll ever be comfortable with this writing thing seeing it is very much unlike me in predictability. Oh to be more like Lady Mary who whispered to her husband-to-be at the altar, “I should hate to be predictable.”

You came. To be honest I wasn't completely sure you would.  I'm glad to hear it. I should hate to be predictable.

You came. To be honest I wasn’t completely sure you would.
I’m glad to hear it. I should hate to be predictable.

 

But then I’m just starting anyway. Maybe I’m still getting used to it. There’s work to do and more practice is needed. But I’m also giving it breathing space, a chance to grow naturally. It still feels stilted and forced right now. Maybe after a million more words it would feel a bit like second skin. Anyway, it’s just the last day of the first month of 2014.

 
image courtesy of: http://oneithersidetheriverlie.tumblr.com/post/42744024532/i-should-hate-to-be-predictable

not these

Nothing will keep me from drawing near to You.

Not a foul mood.

Not an ill-timed conversation.

Not frustrations over not knowing how to share openly with supposedly the closest people to me.

Not seemingly lost important papers.

Not a delayed devotion schedule.

Not confusion over whether I made the right decision by staying.

Not my not having my own room so that I could really be alone with You.

Not the seeming pointlessness of struggling to keep praising You.

Not the lack of warm feelings in our recent conversations.

Not a still unestablished writing routine.

Not listlessness even after a boost of excitement over the weekend.

Not unfulfilled timelines.

Not a lack of things to say.

Not an overwhelmed mind on the chaos of life.

Not the slowly growing cynicism on things hoped for.

Not the unceasing noise of the city.

Not the erratic, unsteady rhythm of every day.

Not the greater burdens told by the news of wars and calamities and poverty and disease.

Not the seeming unenoughness of 24 hours.

Not these. Or even those I can’t seem to put a finger on.

Instead, I lay all of these down at your feet.

And just as I am, Father, I come before Thee.