Straddling Between 2011 and 2012 | An Attempt for Resolutions
I'm nearly straddling between 2011 and 2012 and for the past few days I have been seriously thinking about my New Year's resolutions. Okay, so I have been procrastinating a little bit because I feel that if I dig into it a little bit more I'll just discover a number of them that might overwhelm me and might end up dumping the idea of actually doing them. What is it about resolutions that make me afraid?
I've decided to buy a Kindle a week ago so that I can discipline myself to read and write more. That's number 1. This past year, I've learned how integral reading and writing are to my capability to function as a person. It's like breathing. I'd die without it. It's not just about reading and writing per se. I need to read and write about something that sparks some life in my spirit and those things aren't what I encounter at work really. No, they're not business books or even human resource manuals. I need to read and write about life beyond these things. I need literature that opens up my mind to possibilities of the "not yet" and the "life that's to come". I need to read from people who have gone beyond their present darkness and have propelled themselves to heed to a higher calling than just make enough money to travel around the world. That's not what compels me to wake up another day. I want to read and write to believe and breathe my purpose into being.
I'm reading this book right now (book number 4 this December) written by Fr. Ronald Rolheiser called "Forgotten Among Lilies" and it's put me on this journey to really taking a good look at myself. All 160 unwanted pounds of me and 34 years. He has dissected me open and poured alcohol to a scabbed wound that's gone raw. And rather than closing the book and putting it back on the dusty shelf, I read some more and realized, I'm utterly and completely nothing without God. Yes, I've said that in the last post but today I think I have to say it with more conviction. I am nothing without God.
Rarely is life enough for us. Rarely are we able to live restfully the spirit of our own lives. Most often what, where, and how we are living seem small, insignificant, petty and depressingly domestic. We seldom notice our hunger and sleep, cold and warmth. Rarely do we taste the coffee we drink. Instead we go through our days too preoccupied, too compulsive, too driven and too dissatisfied to really be able to be present to and celebrate our own lives. Always, it seems, we are somehow missing out on life. Added to this restlessness is fear and guilt. We live always in fear--about losing life, losing health, losing loved ones, losing a job, losing securities, losing youth, losing respect and losing ourselves.
We live as in an enigma, always partially away from home, longing to understand more fully and to be understood more fully. Slowly we tire of pilgrimage. We want to go home.
We are fired into life by a madness that comes from our incompleteness.
Do we cry with each other and support each other in the frustration of our incompleteness or do we give each other the impression that there is something wrong with us because our lives are inconsummate and our symphonies are incomplete?
He describes the way I feel with so much precision it is like he is opening me up in an operating table and showing me exactly what is going on inside me. And I helplessly look at the damage done to my soul like a house burned down but I also find that as I go beyond the fear of looking at how messed up a worn out soul looks like, I find that towards the most vulnerable parts of the unearthing is hope. Earlier this morning I found myself sitting on my Mom's reading chair in their room. I leafed through an old prayer book and suddenly it dawned on me.
This still small voice said, "All endings are opportunities for new beginnings. All worn out things are moments awaiting to be made new. Dying unto yourself is an opportunity to be born again."
The hands of the minister dissecting my worn out soul is Christ's nail pierced hands. He lives in our woundedness. In our weariness. In our soul's depleted state. And I find Him there faithfully waiting for as I fall into the realization of my woundedness, I also fall into the truth of His everlasting arms.
There is in all of us, at the very center of our lives, a tension, an aching, a burning in the heart that is insatiable, nonquietable and very deep. Sometimes we experience this longing as focused on a person, particularly if we are in a love that is not consummated. Other times we experience this yearning as a longing to attain something. Most often, though, it is a longing without a clear name or focus, an aching that cannot be clearly pinpointed or described.
This restlessness and longing however, must never be seen as something which sets us against what is spiritual, religious and of God. In fact this hopeless aching and lack of ease is the very basis of the spiritual life.
Sometimes I ask God why I can never just be like other people who would focus their thoughts on "normal things". Why do I have to be someone who would go to the edge of a thought and just dig into its unknown depths and be so consumed with what I find? Most of them time unable to articulate what I see but always, always feeling this energy that there is something more to discover or that I'm missing a certain point or this dire need to create. Sometimes I wish I could just be one of those people who would go about their day and be oblivious to a lot of things. Perhaps have a simpler mind and not wander off into another person's thoughts or stream of consciousness. Sometimes I wonder why I am too aware or why I chatter endlessly with musings beyond my grasp. Perhaps I'd have a simpler life.
But, over the past few years I have come to realize that a simple life as what most people think it is, is not that simple at all. The other day, two of my Dad's relatives came over. One was around 18 years old and the other one was 13. Their families are not as financial stable as ours and my sister has been helping one of them through school. They probably belong to a brood of 12. In one point of the conversation my Dad asked why their GPA was lower than average and he surmised that it must be because they're on Facebook all the time. One of them said that they only go to Facebook every weekend and spend about an hour or two in their computer lab.
They probably have a "simple life". They don't think about the same things I think about. They think about where to get an allowance to pay for internet access so they can go online in Facebook on the weekend. But see, that's what makes this perspective so complicated to the point it becomes paradoxical.
What is simple is complicated and what is complicated is simple. Does that make sense? But isn't that then the mystery of the faith?
We crave few things as deeply as self-expression. Deep within the eros that makes us restless and dissatisfied lies the incurable need to express ourselves, to be known, recognized, understood, and seen by others as unique and as having deep riches inside us.
Self-expression, being known and being experienced in our depth, is vital to living and loving. A heart which is unknown, unappreciated in its depth and lacking in meaningful self-expression is always a restless and frustrated heart. It is normally, too, a competitive and bitter one. But meaningful self-expression is difficult and full self-expression is impossible. Only a rare few achieve meaningful self-expression. Lack of self-expression, whether chosen or imposed by circumstances, is a real death.
Like all death, however, it can be paschal or terminal. If merely accepted as inevitable it leads to bitterness and a broken spirit. If linked to the paschal mystery of Christ, if it is seen as an opportunity to enter the hidden life of Christ, it leads to a new ease in life, to restfulness; and it lays the ax to the root of our competitiveness, anger and bitterness.
A few days ago, my Mom finally invited me and my cousins to work on a long and dormant project. To resurrect a dormant foundation inherited from our great grand-aunt some 10 to 15 years ago. I've always had this passion for altruistic things. I'm not sure if a lot of the members of my family share the same passion as I but I know some who do. Perhaps I was born into a lineage of benefactors who experience a prosperous streak and experience a change of heart. Immediately called into the service for disadvantaged members of society or whoever simply needs help around them.
This new development excited me because it resonated with something I know I can contribute to. And I realized again that all dreams are activated by feeling a stirring of the spirit in that place inside yourself that your deepest longings and the world's meet. It's simply being able to respond to the needs of the world and you know that you can. And that you will. And that will make you happy. Because you're created to do that. Whatever that is.
I don't know what "that" is yet. For now, all I know is that reading and writing is that "monastic bell" I should be responding to. I'm grateful I even unearthed all this right now.
Sometimes it's a sad place to be. Not knowing if you're thoughts resonate with someone else and whoever resonates with you are people you will eventually get to meet or have a good conversation with. But there are moments and days in the coming year that I pray for a more fruitful unveiling of this purpose. And maybe those "immortal longings" will soon find a place to breathe some day.