“What Happened?”

It is not physical beauty nor temporal glory nor the brightness of light dear to earthly eyes, nor the sweet melodies of all kinds of songs, nor the gentle odor of flowers, and ointments and perfumes, nor manna or honey, nor limbs welcoming the embraces of the flesh; it is not these I love when I love my God. Yet there is a light I love, and a food, and a kind of embrace when I love my God — a light, voice, odor, food, embrace of my innerness, where my soul is floodlit by light which space cannot contain, where there is sound that time cannot seize, where there is a perfume which no breeze disperses, where there is a taste for food no amount of eating can lessen, and where there is a bond of union that no satiety can part. That is what I love when I love my God.

– St. Augustine

“What happened?”

I threw this question to the participants at the beginning of the Sec 4 Confi Retreat. I was last-minute-arrowed to do a spiritual prep for Mass, so I fell back on what I do best, for lack of better ideas. I gave an input based on an exegesis on the readings and a reflection of where they were at now. Between their spiritual high after Sec 3 Confi Camp to their bored faces now, I asked them what had happened in between.

I’ve come to realise that the things that I say whenever I give these sessions or inputs are the things that I myself need to hear the most. So it was with some measure of resignation that I found myself wondering what had happened to my own faith since SOW shortly after I did the spiritual prep.

The weeks and months after SOW, the floodgates of my faith burst open and my soul was “floodlit”. I hungered for more knowledge. I thirsted for sacraments (both big and small ‘S’ types). I woke up for morning masses with Soo. I met up with Deacon Sherman Kuek to discuss the difference between doctrine and dogma. I spent one hour at a go in ado, and I still wished for more time.

Now, my faith is more of a steady trickle than a rushing torrent. Steady it may be, but how slowly it trickles.

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Camp had ended, but the sec 4s were noisy, and we were tired; so we hid in a corner and took a selfie.

Here is another image – this time, at Sec 1 Camp. The boy holds out his hands. His eyes are closed. He is thirteen years old. He is deep in worship. At the cross, a group of children gather to sit and pray. A girl at the front kneels.

Do adults envy children and their auguries of innocence? Are our cynicism and our worldliness simply a way to mask our bitterness, so that we won’t have to recognise in them what we have lost?

My final playwriting assignment is a one-act-play of 40 minutes. I hope it will be about childhood and memory and wonder. I hope it will be about sacrifice and realisations and disillusionment. I hope it will have a little of Gaiman and Peter and Alice and me.

Hope is a function of expectation over reality.

As I write, I pray. I ask God to be my inspiration and I offer up the play to Him. I very much want God to be in my writing.

So it is rather disturbing that the play is turning out so dark.

I keep telling myself that I intend to redeem my characters from the pits of hell that I’ve thrown them into. But I am insecure about my skills to construct a realistic salvation. That requires divine inspiration.

I told the class when I presented my ideas for my play that I had seen enough of plays that catharsised its audience, that emptied their emotions and drained their souls. I wanted to write something that filled people up instead.

At this point, I am failing quite miserably.

Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement… Everything is phenomenal… To be spiritual is to be amazed.

– Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, God in Search of Man

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About Mel

I dreamt I was a whale. https://melvynfoo.wordpress.com/about-mel/