Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Crownless Again Shall Be King 

I'm back!

Yesterday was such a tiring day that I practically fell asleep while typing. I literally sat at my computer and typed with my eyes flickering shut like a dying firefly.

I had a wonderfully relaxing day today. I woke up at about 8.30am and rolled around in bed before getting up to brew some green tea to fill my tummy. It was so, so warm it shot straight down like a arrow unto it's mark, exploding in my stomach in delicious, delicious warmth. I had a bowl of cereal while poring over this week's Catholic News in our living room Suite. Somehow, the cold air added unto the quiet of the morning, and the hot tea and cold milk and crunchy Banana Nut Crunch and the languid air of sleepiness made me emotional.

I got weepy over an article about my hero, Pope Francis.
I was flipping through the pages and then I began reading Archbishop William Goh's message to Catechists, where he made Aragorn-like exhortations.

"Let us draw strength from his contagious joy! The joy that comes from proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ! Christ is with us! Courage be upon us!"

"Either we evangelise the world or we will be secularised! In this spiritual warfare, there is no neutrality. Jesus says clearly, 'Whosoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not father with me, scatters.' (Mark 12:30)"

There I was at the table, giggling at Archie's glorious words and imagining him on a horse riding up and down the rows of soldiers while we waiting to storm the Black Gates of Mordor, shouting "COURAGE BE UPON US!" in his slightly singlish-y accent and bobbing white hair.

It's a very important reminder for me though. Sometimes, I forget how tough the fight will be. It's only the second week of school and temptations galore in the form of sloth (can't make myself get up in the morning, can't find motivation or discipline to do work), gluttony (so much excess of food), envy (being jealous of people), pride (thinking I'm better/ prettier/ smarter than others), vanity (caring excessively about how I look, priding myself not for my actions and kindness but for how I look)... they get the better of me. It's so easy to slip. It's so easy to fall in this bloody spiritual warfare.

When I read about Pope Francis and his exploits though, I feel as though he makes everything seem simpler. That sometimes life is hard only because we choose to make it hard. On his birthday, this big guy, 77 years of age, famous and all, he basically goes out to his front porch and beckons these homeless fellows in to celebrate his big day with him.

Simple, really. So why did it bring tears to my eyes? Why was I leaking like a tap this morning when I read his article? This man inspires people because he is simple. There is something about simplicity and direct kindness that strikes deep in our hearts. It moves a part of our soul that we sometimes forget exists. And in that movement we feel alive. Like darling Jon Foreman The Wise says "and I wonder why, why would I wait till I die to come alive?"

Why indeed? Why wait till I die to come alive? To feel ALIVE and burn, burn, burn, for the love of Christ and from Christ's unconditional, love for us? Everyday, I, am reminded, I must choose my fate.

I kept rereading the poem Bilbo read for Aragorn over and over again trying to stick it in my head because it is, in Vangey's words, PERF.

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost.
The old who is strong does not wither, 
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes a fire shall be wakened, 
A light from the shadows shall spring. 
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king. 

After a nice dinner of Vangey's delicious scrambled eggs and tortilla wraps with stolen kailan from downstairs and stir-fried sardines with the sweetness chopped onions and garlic, poor Alvin Pang had to compete with the immensity of Tolkien's poetry. Sorry Alvin... my heart was too full.

Speaking of choosing fates, it is Catholic Awareness Week 2014. I was mending a lonely booth at the Central Library yesterday. I spent a nice hour reading all the pamphlets and posters-pin-ups and learning so much. We're not supposed to approach anyone to tell them about Catholic Student Society because apparently that will upset the religious freedom act thingum in Singapore. I don't know yet how I feel about this rule.

Although I had no patrons in my hour-long shift, I was thinking about how our conversations might go.

Visitor: So why do you believe in God? 

Me: He's been in my life since I was 11, and I've seen him work miracles in my life. I've seen him work miracles in others. I meet him every week at mass. He changed my life... no... he SAVED my life cuz now I don't have to die and die and die for the crap I get up to in life. His blameless son already did all the dying that had to be done for me. He taught me to be vulnerable, to love and be loved. He changed my relationship with my mother. 

So why would I wait till I die to come alive?

I would say. I was so excited to tell people, but no one came. In a way I was relieved because it's scary to actually say these things to a real visitor and not recite them in my own head. Another wise friend, Sara Bareilles says though "I wonder what would happen if you say what you want to say and let the words fall out?" Nothing too catastrophic, I gather.

Courage, indeed, be upon us.

Thank God :)
It was a pretty swell day.

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