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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Athos of the East...Sungai Lembing...

Sungai Lembing, a timeless, sleepy, yet simply serene town, testimony of the quiet settlement of a bygone area. The name of the town, located amidst the green hills in Pahang, Malaysia, translates, to “sungai” meaning river and “lembing” meaning spear. An ancient legend has it that the village chief envisioned images of spears in the river and decided simply to name the river as Sungai Lembing.  To me, this humble hideaway, reminds me of God's "spear" of endless love and abundant "river" of hope...

In the good ol' forgotten days, this was THE place in the East where material wealth was created and riches made – underground mining of tin ores via many layers of tunnels – the largest, longest and deepest subterranean underground tin mine in the world; so much so, some claimed it to be the El-Dorado of the East. Yet, in the mid-1980s, the world tin prices collapsed and the mines were shut down due to high costs and low returns, people were reminded in a most harsh way, of the fragility and simplicity of life, as it first begun. Truly, God's plan is not our plan.  What remains is now merely a museum building as a lingering memory of all mining history, struggles and artifacts.  Everything else has been stripped away...lives were brought down to earth.

What used to be the richest town in the land, straddling the once famous river, connected by a wobbly suspension bridge, dwarf by the majestic views from the Hill of Panorama, to many, ....has now been reduced, by the sands of time, into a quiet, laid back, forgotten piece of history…where only misty memories linger on…reminded annually, like the days of Noah, by the great floods waters from the eastern monsoon winds.

"He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end." (Ecclesiastes 3:11, NIV Bible)

To the more conscious, the simple folks, this place is perceived to be the closest one can get to heaven…a place on earth where all desires, worldly distractions are surrendered and solitude found – where mankind nourishes the precious awareness that they belong to God, where they can find God and carry into the world, a rainbow of hope…no distractions…simply Sungai Lembing – the holy Mount Athos of the East…where deep and genuine spirituality is allowed to flourish and bear fruit...also the humble origin of my being…my quiet paradise...and hopefully, a reminder to all pilgrims that...our journey back home can be a simple and beautiful one...if only we surrender all to God.


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