22 January 2007

Stedfast One

I've been meaning to post something since Ethan was born on Jan 13. But you know how it is - between feeds, washing, getting food, and tidying up - there's hardly time to breathe. And for the first week, we were hospital-bound anyway. But today, I thought it timely to break blog-silence to announce the official NAMING of Ethan.

I trudged up to the National Registration Department office at Tmn Maluri today and penned it down - YAP ETHAN.  It's final. He's going to have live with it all his life, answer to it, introduce himself by it. He is Ethan.  Ethan  is pronounced EE-than. It is of Hebrew origin, and its meaning is "firmness, steadfastness, constancy".  From the Bible, Ethan is a wise man, an Ezrahite, in Solomons time, son of Zerah son of Judah; the father of Azariah,son of Zimmah, of Gershom of Levi; ancestor of Asaph; the father of Adaiah,son of Kishi (Merari Levi); a worship leader in David's time (1Ki 4:31 Psa 89:1 1Ch 2:6 1Ch 2:8 1Ch 6:42 1Ch 6:44 1Ch 15:17 1Ch 15:19). He's the guy who gave us 'I will sing of the mercies of the Lord, forever'. No, he was not named after Ethan Hunt in Mission Impossible or the actor Ethan Hawke!

The Chinese name was a bit tricky though. But we had very simple criteria: names that sound like Ethan, and has a meaning congruent to it. 

With the inexhaustible and wondrous resources of the internet - we found it. All it takes is a good Chinese-English dictionary that can search for PinYin phonetics and display corresponding Chinese words and their meanings. We fell in love with two names - Yi(4) which means 'resolute and decisive', and Deng (4) which means 'path up a mountain'. I think the names say it all. Not that we expect a hard and laborious life for him. But it certainly speaks both of the struggle he has been through already, and the spiritual journey all of us must make.

And my dad, the self-taught Chinese linguistic expert was happy to clear it.

Naming a child certainly has all the import of aspiration and intuition we read of in the Bible.  Something deep within tells us that the child has such intrinsic traits and in some way the name spells out his destiny. It also defines our aspirations, and the way we hope to bring him up - with a sense of grit and readiness to face life head on; knowing the God who calls him, and what he is called to.

Well, apart from all that destiny-conscious talk, we think he's just mighty adorable and helluva rascal. Guess you gotta have mischief and a sense of humor to make it through the terrain of life's steep ascent.

Pix of him, BTW - are uploaded to Picasaweb.

08 January 2007

Reclaiming friendship

We may consider many people friends - colleagues in the office, party acquaintances, old classmates, or church members whose hands we shake every week. But there are friends, and there are friends.

We sometimes say someone is a 'true friend' because he or she was there for us when we truly needed someone, when he or she helped us or showed love and understanding when nothing was to be gained.

Nouwen defines friendship thus:
Friendship is being with the other in joy and sorrow, even when we cannot increase the joy or decrease the sorrow. It is a unity of souls that gives nobility and sincerity to love. Friendship makes all of life shine brightly. Blessed are those who lay down their lives for their friends.

It makes me think - what kind of friend am I to others? Real friendship has a very covenantal flavour. When I call someone friend, or think of myself as a friend to anyone, I should in essence be binding myself to him or her. I am saying to another - I am here for you and I seek your highest good. Friendship goes deeper than offering help, occasional smiles or advice. It is a promise lived out in every day life. Redefining friendship in this way imbues it with real meaning and makes me more human.


03 January 2007

Vulnerable living

In today's online reading, Nouwen says:
Life is precious. Not because it is unchangeable, like a diamond, but because it is vulnerable, like a little bird. To love life means to love its vulnerability, asking for care, attention, guidance, and support. Life and death are connected by vulnerability. The newborn child and the dying elder both remind us of the preciousness of our lives. Let's not forget the preciousness and vulnerability of life during the times we are powerful, successful, and popular.
Well, this is timely. Times have been tough these last weeks, with Joan getting severe gastritis and her blood pressure climbing dangerously in the last trimester. Today she had to be observed in the ward for an extremely high pressure. Thankfully, her bloods and the scans show no danger signs.

Being medical professionals, we are well aware of the risks and many fatal implications of hypertension in pregnancy.  So, for us, it's very humbling to submit to the help of other doctors, and the prayer support of many loving friends.  And Nouwen helps me realise that we are celebrating life most when we are not trying to be self-sufficient and invulnerable but needing one another and being complete together.