Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from November, 2010

the lie of scarcity

Helloooooo!! I have been meaning to write a blog for a few days now, but with the boat-load of projects I have had on my plate lately (and still have), intent has not translated into action. However, with 3 of the 9 projects behind me, I believe I can leave the 6 to play unsupervised for a bit while I write something here.

I watched a video of a talk by Dr. Brene Brown a few weeks back (or maybe only a week, I have very little concept of how fast time is passing) that got me thinking about the culture of scarcity that we live in. She talks about the messages we are bombarded with: we are never good enough, safe enough, certain enough, perfect enough, extraordinary enough. And the sad thing is, we believe these messages. We find it hard to be thankful, joyful, content, and at peace.

She talks about how our desire for the extraordinary, the thrill, the special, has eclipsed our ability to value the ordinary in our lives. In fact, the ordinary is where we can find the most joy, she says. (…

I don't have what you are asking for, but...

On Monday morning, I was standing at the street corner waiting to get on the bus and head off to a class at the university. When the bus arrived, the doors opened, and I saw a woman in a purple coat standing beside the bus driver. The two of them were engaged in a conversation. I didn't think much of it - people often ask the driver for directions or information. I placed my bus pass on the pad at the front, heard the satisfying "ding" of acceptance, and squeezed past her. The purple lady followed me to my seat and asked if I had change for 5 dollars. I replied in the negative, because I knew pretty much what was in my wallet, but she looked so desperate that I decided to took a look just to check.

When I opened up my change pocket, I could immediately see that I did not have 5 dollars in change, but I did have $2.75, which was the exact cost of a bus fare. I pulled out the coins and handed them to the lady. She offered me the 5 dollar bill, but I refused, saying that I w…

one thing

A small group of us were sitting in my friend's living room last night in silence. Dean had led us in an exercise where we laid aside our thoughts and preoccupations of the day (mine were the 2 proposals I am writing, a lecture to prepare for next week, a reading course to finish, a research trip to organise, and that I really need to clean the bathrooms), confessing our shortcomings (I admitted to timidity, fear, lack of trusting God), and invited us to become quiet in the presence of God. It was such a pleasant sensation to let my mind stop its constant thinking about so much stuff, its habitual practice of mental notation and composition, and just look at Jesus. Only one thing on my mind.

It reminded me of what I had been reading on the subway on the way to the gathering. Kierkegaard talks about the one Good thing, and how everything else is not "one." When we are truly pointing in God's direction, looking and walking toward the ultimate Good, all is one. Here are …

take

You will not have this - its mine!
Words that a 5 year-old says when someone reaches for his toy. Words that a woman shouts when confronted by a thief demanding her purse. Words that a landowner utters when threatened by an invading king.
You cannot take this away from me! Words that the slaves sung to remind themselves that freedom can always be carried in your heart. Words that martyrs cried out as they offered their lives for their beliefs. Words that lovers whispered when they were parted by war.
Why are you taking this away from me? Words that Job flung at a God who seemed to be deaf to his pain. Words that don't know how this can end well. Words that the chronically downtrodden have forgotten how to form.
Why did I give that up? Words of regret spoken in hindsight. Words that cannot bring it back. Words that reveal powerlessness and perhaps a lack of courage.
Can you help me get it back? Words that carry hope. Words that have put aside self-reliance. Words that refuse to accept injustice as th…

the way things work

My plan:1. Send email to professor on Sunday night with a question. 2. Receive eager response on Monday morning, Tuesday morning at the latest. 3. When eager response not received by Wednesday afternoon, go to professor's office and demand that he respond to you. 4. When professor appears not to be in his office, stand in hallway and play with iPhone just in case he walks by in the next fifteen minutes. 5. When professor does not appear, walk back to library in the cold wind and ask God if he has a better plan.
Better plan: 1. Send email to professor on Sunday night with a question. 2. Wait patiently for a few days. 3. Stop in at the professor's office on Wednesday to follow-up. 4. In case professor is not in office, don't worry, just go to library. 5. After picking up books at library, get on subway to go home. 6. Transfer subway lines and while waiting for the next train, look around. 7. See a woman looking at you. Do I know her? Look away. Look back at her. Yes, I do know her. 8. S…

empty-handed

A long time ago, there was this group of people called the Israelites. Their ancestor, Israel (or Jacob) moved his family to Egypt to avoid a famine, and after a number of years, when this one family had multiplied into a very large clan, the Egyptian king freaked out and forced the people into slavery because he was afraid that they might leave or, even worse, turn against him in a war. It was a pretty ugly situation, but God had already planned for the Israelites' breakout. God got in touch with Moses and told him that he, Moses, was to go see the Pharaoh of Egypt and convince this stubborn king to let these people go that God called his own.

I am reading through the story of the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt, and a particular phrase in chapter 3 of Exodus jumped out at me. When God is having a conversation with Moses about how things will play out, God warns Moses that the Egyptian king will be stubborn, but in the end, the ruler will be glad to see the Israelites go. In f…

pressure point

Today, I am reading a wonderful book called Minding the Spirit which is filled with articles by scholars from the field of Christian Spirituality. However, I am not having a wonderful time while doing it. Instead, I find myself suffering from fatigue of the spirit and the mind and the body. I would just like to go sit by the window and read some fiction for a day or two. Or maybe go for a long walk without thinking about my next research project the whole time. The pressure that has been piling itself on top of me these past few weeks, scoop after heavy scoop, is finally starting to dent my usually cheerful and buoyant demeanour. I thrive in a learning environment, but the love and drive for what I am doing has taken a few hits lately, and that makes studying quite a chore. I find myself tempted to walk away, at least for a bit. I won't, but I am tempted.

There is the constant pressure to be the brightest and the best, to do well not only in the classroom, but to fill one's res…