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Saturday, March 5, 2011

Remain Faithful Until Death...

Today, for my quiet reflection, just when I was feeling a little down, these short scriptural words gently spoke to me, embraced me and gave me hope – sustaining me. 

I simply pray that these Words of life will have the same power over you as Lent quietly approaches.

I know your tribulation and poverty, but you are richI know the slander of those who claim to be Jews and are not, but rather are members of the assembly of Satan.

Do not be afraid of anything that you are going to suffer.  Indeed, the devil will throw some of you into prison that you may be tested, and you will face an ordeal for ten days.  Remain faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” 
(Revelation 2:9-10)

Sometimes, along our journey through life, just when we have the feeling that no one seems to understand us…we are gently comforted by Him…who knows all our needs and every unspoken prayer deep within our heart.

The journey that once seems so hopeless and empty…does not seem so lonely after all.  We continue to be faithful and place all our hope in Jesus.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Forty Holy Days...

Less than a week to Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, extending over 40 days.  I share with you this short and simple reflection as we journey the final leg towards a season of holiness, preparation, repentance and renewal.

"Remember, man, that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return."
(Genesis 3:19, Douay-Rheims)

The priest will deliver this traditional English translation of the admonition to each and every one of us, whether young or old, male or female, rich or poor, all, sinners the same.  The priest will make the sign of the cross, of ashes on our forehead to remind us that none of us can escape death and final judgment.

"...the kingdom of God is at hand: repent, and believe the gospel."
(Mark 1:15, Douay-Rheims)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Blogging into The Quiet Abyss…

“However, take care and be earnestly on your guard not to forget the things which your own eyes have seen, nor let them slip from your memory as long as you live, but teach them to your children and to your children's children.” (Deuteronomy 4:9, NAB)

The journey towards Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, can be long and winding for many, not to mention forgetful, at times as we go about daily attending to various tasks.  My thoughts, so many of them, seem to be shifting focus from one end to the other…as I too struggle to calm myself...prepare myself for a meaningful holy season. 

One particular article caught my eye…Blogging on the decline among the younger generation, it reads.  Previously, it was the death of bookshops as reading was said to be on the decline; actually reading from a 'real' physical book!  

The new generation 'types' or 'copy & paste' more than they write and 'scrolls' or 'google' more than they visit a real library, 'saves' instead of file.

Traditional folks like me still prefer the old rustic bookshop, flipping through the pages and jotting down my thoughts in a notebook.

Being amongst the crowd of book lovers, yet feeling simply alone with the bound book in your hands...reading into the thoughts of someone...sharing in the journey of others. 

I still love reading spiritual books and writing...although in many ways, 'surfing' (on the web, that is) does enhance my love of the former two.

To my surprise, I never lost the ability to write. In fact, writing became part of my struggle for survival. It gave me the little distance from myself that I needed to keep from drowning in my despair.”
-Henri Nouwen

Many young people have also shy away from blogging or web logging, migrating towards online expressive social networks like Facebook and Twitter; making many new instant ‘friends’ and being ‘liked’ many, many times over, instant messaging, online games and virtual world.

While technology is not exactly bad, the world we journey in today is drowned with data, chronicles of information and gadgets that supports us to keep up with everything on the super e-highway.

I hear from many youths who boast that they have hundreds and thousands of ‘friends’ or 'followers' connected to their Facebook account.  What does this mean?  Popularity?  Boost to the ego?  Growing up has never been the same in this modern day and age…

Like it or not, youths of today all ‘live’ in a world of instant gratification – fast food, instant microwave meals, YouTubes, iPhone downloads, instant ‘friends’, followers, cyber-pals, etc, etc.

Who wants to put deep old-fashioned thoughts into each and every blog post when it is not even certain that anyone ‘out there’ is listening or ‘following’; blogging into the abyss sounds quite daunting to many these days.  Blogging seem to be dying a slow and natural death as the world progresses.

Why then do people like me still choose to blog?  For one, I am long-winded with words and blogging suits me fine to express my thoughts.  I am sure everyone has their own personal reasons.

Blogging or cyber-journaling, as I would term it, pens my own simple journey towards God…at a point of my life when there’s just too many things going on around me and I am trying to stay spiritually sane.  Another more noble reason could be to leave a legacy behind for those who know me, perhaps my children.

Blogging an online spiritual journal allows me to be real with myself and to also share the hidden treasures of my heart with others.  Thus far, my journaling has been quite a self discovery for me.  I find that I enter into this quiet and calm meditative state of serenity with God, listening, revealing my thoughts to Him, although He already knows it all before it even reaches my lips, in this case, my fingers hitting the keyboard!

“O LORD, you have probed me,
you know me:
you know when I sit and stand;
you understand my thoughts from afar.
My travels and my rest you mark;
with all my ways you are familiar.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
LORD, you know it all.” (Psalm 139:1-4, NAB)

Before the blogging days, my experiences would often breeze through without me taking even a glimpse of my thoughts, reactions, insights and feelings…my soul…not bothered in remembering what God has done in my life or the blessings showered upon me and my family…more pre-occupied with the doing, chasing, reacting, achieving, directing, working…

This blog has helped me to be more aware of my own spiritual journey and disciplined me to savor simple thoughts within my heart as they quietly pass by.  It has prompt me to pay more attention to God, see with new eyes what God has been doing, touch God in the gentle breeze and see how God has blessed me in my life.

...but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence

When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.

Then there came a voice to him that said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”  (1 Kings 19: 11-13, NRSV)

Today, SimplyQuiet, a relatively young blog journal, acts like a mirror, reflecting my own life journey back to me, my weaknesses, my imperfections - providing me with a place to explore, learn more of God, a good sounding board for me to learn and deepen my own spiritual life, to sustain me in seeking God under all circumstances…more importantly, I hope, shed some light to brighten up others’ path...

Journaling on the blogosphere also allows me to be more descriptive in landscaping my own journey so that many others who walk the same path may know, may recognize…that our life’s journey have much in common and through this avenue of simple sharing…others may walk this path a little easier, less burdened, knowing that there are others who have already passed by.

Scripture discloses a God who, even when rejected and abandoned, still keeps believing in human beings, loving them to the end and doing all in His power to awaken their trust.

I pray that this humble journal, SimplyQuiet, can also play a small part where God can invite you personally to trust in His love, to place your confidence in Him and to follow Him into a communion that will have no end.Lent is a time for self discovery, discovering God within all our imperfections and sharing and journeying towards God...seeing and finding God in everything.

Under a leaf, in a snowflake
In a blade of grass, in a raindrop
All parts of nature
In your parents’ loving embrace
In the phone call from your grandparents
All family relationships
In working and sharing with others
In helping the unfortunate
All volunteering jobs
Where are you able to find God?
Lord, help me to find you in all ways and walks of life.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Long and Winding Road...

Just recently, as I watched the recent Top 24 of the American Idol Season 10 where Haley Reinhart, Naima Adedapo, and Jacob Lusk did their unique performance of the Beatles', “The Long and Winding Road”, I was taken back in time...bringing back memories of my journey.

Beatles' lyrics for the journey's reflection towards Lent?  Why not?  Growing up, music, as in my faithful radio, always had a deep influence on me...listening to the serene, inspirational music, pondering on the tune and reflecting on each word of the lyrics often leads me into a quiet reflective mood...alone with dreaming with Him...just wasting time with whole being sing praises Him.

Anyway, this song by the Beatles has always been one of my favorite tunes…the meaningful lyrics transporting me to contemplate more of my own journey through life, its challenges, hopelessness, all my imperfections and my dependence on God, the times when I feel that He is not always there to accompany me…completely...surrendering to Him all my bitterness and pain...and tiredness...

Our human journey towards the start of Lent can similarly be like that, lack of self-discipline, indifference…where you just want to give up when the road gets seemingly long and winding, and doors seem to shut on your face.  What is the use of even persevering on this path?

“Unless there is a Good Friday in your life, there can be no Easter Sunday.” - Fulton J. Sheen

Paul McCartney always found inspiration in the calm beauty of Scotland and the ‘road’ of the song title was inspired by the “B842” (a national road which winds over 50 km over the West Coast of Scotland, through Kintyre to his High Park Farm in Campbeltown).  He goes on to share:

It's rather a sad song. I like writing sad songs, it's a good bag to get into because you can actually acknowledge some deeper feelings of your own and put them in it.  It's a good vehicle, it saves having to go to a psychiatrist.

I was a bit flipped out and tripped out at that time.  It's a sad song because it's all about the unattainable; the door you never quite reach.  This is the road that you never get to the end of” (reflecting the sorrow at the prospect of his band, The Beatles, breaking up).

Music, for me is, and will always be, an inspirational avenue towards a deeper prayer life.  Here goes the simple but meaningful lyrics of the song recorded way back in January, 1969, a time when I was barely six, where the journey has barely begun…

The long and winding road
that leads to your door
will never disappear
I've seen that road before
It always leads me here
Lead me to you door

The wild and windy night
that the rain washed away
Has left a pool of tears
crying for the day
Why leave me standing here?
Let me know the way

Many times I've been alone
and many times I've cried
Any way you'll never know
the many ways I've tried

But still they lead me back
to the long winding road
You left me standing here
a long, long time ago

Don't leave me waiting here
lead me to your door

But still they lead me back
to the long winding road
You left me standing here
a long, long time ago

Don't keep me waiting here
lead me to your door

The seemingly long and winding road of our journey through life will never disappear and will naturally lead us back to the door of Heaven...back home to God.   We travel this long and winding road just as Jesus Christ did...through Him, with Him and in Him.

Listen to the original Beatles tune here...and I pray that you too, will always remember your journey...and grow in strength and wisdom each day...

God bless all and may your journey towards Lent sing and cry out praises to His Name always.