28 November 2001

Of giving and meaning

It's been an eventful month, to say the least.

A much loved pastor to many Malaysian Christians was taken home in a shocking accident. I know enough of him to know that it is a tremendous loss to many. And to me not to have known him. He has made his closing gift in a life of giving.

It reminds me to 'number my days aright' and to continue being 'poured on the altar of sacrifice'.
A man accused me (falsely) of denting his car and threatened to hurt us. Some accessories on my car has since been stolen.

I'm reminded not to be vindictive. After all, why steal from me when all I have is already a gift to the world?

The Psalms always capture the Israelites' unshakable sense of belonging and identity as the Lord's 'people and the sheep of His pasture' even in the worst of defeats. When they should have felt utterly abandoned.

Dire circumstances can only drive us deeper into His embrace.

With all the hype of the upcoming release of LOTR, I'm reading Tolkien afresh. He gives me many symbols to bind up truths.

Like when Frodo asked Tom Bombadil who are you? He answers, 'Don't you know my name yet? That's the only answer. Tell me, who are you, alone, yourself and nameless.'
Who am I, alone, myself and nameless?

I am defined by my relationship to the other. To God most of all. Sometimes there are moments of acute sense of aimlessness and search for meaning. I am nothing in and of myself.

I am real only in the worship of God. When He descends to dwell in me, and I am raised to dwell in Him. We glorify Him and He glorifies us. We are His inheritance, and He is our very great reward.

21 November 2001

Abandoned for Union

It was both affirming and empowering for me when I read the rare but poignant article in CNN, 'Mother Teresa's Letters Reveal Doubts.'

Quoted much, one saying of Mother Teresa's that I hold on to goes, 'Words that do not give light, only add to darkness.' It reminds me to shut up when I haven't anything particularly life-giving to say.

For me, she has every right to pontificate like that, because what few words she has spoken, does precisely that - give light, and birth new desire to love God, love man, and all for the sake of God alone.

But the world has never heard the sound of her heart break. Nor entered into the darkness of her loneliness. We've been captivated by her saint-like intimacy with Jesus and bottomless love for the suffering, but we don't realize that she got there by being vulnerably human.

That article made me listen to her again, --
'Love -- the word -- it brings nothing.'
'In my soul, I can't tell you how dark it is, how painful, how terrible'
'The reality of darkness and coldness and emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul.'

Her words of brokenness so far unknown, are the words that we need the most. Words that tell us it's OK to have pain so deep we can't get at, so vast there's no beginning, no end. That when God wants to unite us so closely to Himself, he allows us, like Jesus, to feel completely abandoned.