My Vocation

My vocation has become clearer as the years go by: to study the unchanging God without something else to do, some pragmatic reason or result. This is what I feel most called to do: SIMPLY ENJOY THE STUDY OF GOD – not write about it, not view it in relation to its political residue or imagine that my opinions will have some visible  social effect. THE JOY OF INQUIRY INTO GOD IS A SUFFICIENT END IN ITSELF, not only as a means to some practical consequence.

– Thomas C. Oden, The Rebirth of Orthodoxy, p. 95

The Vision

It is midnight in the chambers
Of my melancholic soul;
Witness are the empty hours
To my struggle to be whole.

Listless faces, unsmiling,
Fill my vision of despair
While the voices of the dying
Sing the burden that I bear.

Tears are lost in the uncaring
“That-is-not-my-problem” stare
Of my icy eyes unfeeling
Common anguish we all share.

I have seen the hungry dying
I have heard the cries of fools,
And the hopes of men a-waning,
And the misery that rules.

Yes, the misery proliferating
And the poverty of souls –
Men alive but no more living
In their void-of-meaning roles.

I am near to realizing
What before I did not see
That to live a life of loving
Is to set my spirit free

From the selfishness that binds me
To the coldness of despair,
From the midnight of my misery
To the dawn of loving care.

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While I Live

“While I live I will praise the Lord; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.” (Psalm 146:2)

Praising the Lord is a life-time business. While I have breath, while I’m still alive, I should go on praising the Lord in every way, whether through singing, working, preaching, teaching, etc.

Now that I’m older (past middle-age actually) I’ve lost somewhat my relish for things I used to do in my youth, such as singing, writing poems and songs, composing and playing the piano, preaching, teaching, etc. Maybe it’s because when you grow old you’ve got less energy than before, and you tend to focus on the more “serious” aspects of life (e.g., work, preparing for retirement, providing for your family, taking care of your health) so that you tend to neglect “less important” things such as songwriting and the like. Actually, I still do these things, but not as often as I would like. And that’s why I’m thankful for this verse because it reminds and encourages me to keep on doing these things while I’m still alive. What’s more important than praising the Lord all the days of our lives? Yes, we praise him through our work, but we ought to praise him too through singing, songwriting, composing music, writing poetry, preaching – all the ways we can according to our gifts! Besides, the Lord also said, “To whom much is given, much is required.” So what do I do with the rest of my life? I will praise the Lord in whatever way I can as long as I have life in me.

Lord, help me to do just that: praise you in every way – sing, write, compose, work, preach, teach – while I have my being.

Peace! Be Still!

“And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, ‘Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?’” (Mark 4)

Why are we so afraid when storms in life arise? Have we forgotten who it is who dwells in our hearts? He is the Prince of Peace, the One who has the power to rebuke the fierce winds and the raging waves so that they lose all their fury and become calm as a sea of glass. Fear only prevails where faith is absent, but in order for faith to overcome fear we must recognize clearly that the One to whom we have entrusted our lives is both mighty and loving. He cares for us and will not allow us to be swept away by the waves; with but a word from his lips – “Peace!” – and we shall be safe. By faith hear him speak the word “peace” to your hearts and watch the storm die down!

Lord, help us to trust in you instead of being afraid of the storm.

One Sleepless Night

The tick-tock of the electric clock
disturbs the late night’s silence.
I then discern the crickets’ hum;
the gecko also joins in.

I see no stars or shining moon
outside my library’s window;
but the night feels right – the peace and quiet
soothes my fractured ego.

I thank you, Lord, for simple joys:
the fact that I’m alive
and able still to breathe – inhale! –
without a worry on my mind.

I think more often I should do this
during times I cannot sleep:
Let the words flow from my pen unbidden,
and let gratitude run deep.

Of Doubts and Leaves

Doubts like leaves blown by the wind,
frolicking by the roadside,
dance painfully in my mind.

Which should I choose?
Only One can be my bride;
all the rest must be left behind.

Shall I be a poet or a preacher,
a jazz pianist or a lawyer?
Shall I be whole or torn apart?
But to be whole is to be torn apart!

Hagar’s husband was heartbroken
when he left her with his son:
What a cruel fate he gave them!
But the thing once done is done.

If I choose to be this one and not
the other one that I could be,
I will be murdering one self so that
another self might fully be.

In order to be truly me
I must decide to not be me!

The leaves are lifted by the wind
only to fall gently once again
dead and silent on the ground.

Of Aches and Anxiety

Fear bites like a mosquito
and gives an itch to my right brain.
“I’ll live to be a hundred – no?”
Mortality is my name.

Every ache I ponder deep:
“Is this the beginning of the end?”
I find it difficult to sleep;
When will darkness be my friend?

Sing like a mosquito’s hum
When it buzzes near my ear;
That’s the melody of anxiety,
What I hear when I sense fear.

The Transient

A fleeting breeze am I; a flame
About to die; the final note
Of a concluding dirge; a warm
But swiftly passing touch. And why
Must I desire to be a star
Eternal in the heavenly realms
When I am not forever? Soon
My flesh and bones will turn to dust,
My footsteps in the sand erased,
Because I am what all life is:
A fleeting, passing, dying breeze.

But ere I pass this be my joy:
To touch thee ere this breeze pass on,
To warm thee ere this flame be gone,
Ere this sad soul melt with the sun,
Ere my life’s dust fly with the wind,
Ere my brief candle turn into night
And I be a forgotten dream.

This be my task while ’tis Today,
Ere I conclude my fleeting stay.
Mine is to touch and pass away
Mine is to touch, then… pass away.

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The Roach

Always escaping when you should do so no longer:
a roach that scurries back to the dark
in fear of its life.

Being squashed – not a prospect to be relished;
but if life has no risks, then
it isn’t worth living.
Commitment is key, even if tomorrow
is uncertain.

To fear is to escape all the time,
instead of standing one’s ground
against your worst fears.

Have faith, make a stand,
commit and don’t budge!

(Photo by Jesper Aggergaard on Unsplash)