I heard in a homily recently that ‘advent’ is the beginning of ‘adventure’. And these are exciting times I guess.
I had hoped that I could essayify this personal update in the pretentious way that I do sometimes, but events are racing forward too quickly. Already, I have left for my Iceland-Denmark trip (in fact, I am writing this while transiting in Amsterdam); and I don’t want the unarchived past to distract me from my present. So, at the expense of narrative, I set out below a scattered data set of recent experiences, before time dims my memory.
(Maybe I’ll connect the dots on hindsight some day.)
1. An Ideal 2017
In a recent LOG session, we shared about what our ideal near future would be like. Here is mine:
Jan-Early Mar: Serve in SOW 2017
Mar: Personal errands, set up blog, etc
Early Apr: Spring School
Apr: French Immersion program
Aug: Prepare for overseas
Sep onwards: Study in Geneva
As of now, that ideal is not all that far.
“Jesus, you are my safekeeper,” I said. This was at another LOG session two weeks ago.
In this phase of my spiritual life, God is drawing me closer to Him in an unprecedented way. Never before have I been so aware of my failings, of how much I need His grace in my endeavours and my relationships, and of how no one else can keep me better than Him. This also coincides with a time in my life that I am insecure about so much.
I wonder sometimes whether it had / has to be so painful. Maybe if I were less proud, or less self-centred. But maybe I could only be less if I had these opportunities to let God be more.
On serving in SOW, the Whatsapp text below that I posted in P&P on 8 Dec should suffice as a record:
hi guys! i’ve committed to serving in next year’s SOW from 8 jan to 4 mar.
OYP invited me to consider serving cos they knew I might be available during that timeslot. I was interested. But as I had a direction that I felt God was calling me to (i.e. to study international law), I felt that I should prioritise taking steps towards that. SOW doesn’t seem to bring me closer in that direction. I was also holding out for internships at that time.
I explained this to OYP, and I told them (and God) that I would get back to them in early December, if I still haven’t secured internships. Till now, I have not. (Which isn’t unexpected, but still unnerving in a job-security-sense.)
So I went down to OYP yesterday, had a chat with Ju, and committed to SOW.
On further prayer and reflection, there’s a very nice parallel with my previous SOW experience. In 2010, SOW prepared (and pretty much kickstarted) me for a new phase in my spiritual and secular life. Now, there’s also a new phase of life awaiting me, whether it’s overseas or not (there’s still uncertainty cos I haven’t secured my place in uni). Maybe SOW 2017 will prepare me for that new phase too lol.
So keep me in prayer. I’ll keep y’all in prayer too. It’s a complete stay-in program: book in on sun night, book out on sat afternoon, for 8 weeks. So I’m guessing I won’t be able to be present much in LOG during those 8 weeks, but I’ll still see yall now and then! Gotta come home every once in a while after all <3
4. So Long and Thanks for All the Fish
Last Friday, I pulled a 1AM at work. On Saturday, I went back to work for almost 6 billable hours. On Monday, we worked unceasingly till the 5PM deadline itself.
After 572 hours (of which around 100 hours were spent on this 144-page closing submissions), this file has come to a close. Or at least, close enough. Boss asked me about reply and/or quantum submissions, but SOW likely precludes me from helping out.
We had our Chinese Chess rematch in three games: a normal game, a blitz game, and a game where we could each set one rule of our choice. I lost all three =(
Tuesday was Von’s birthday. Tuesday was also Drew’s driving test. And I was free, and I had the car. I therefore proposed, that if Drew passed, he could take us for a spin. We could then go somewhere to celebrate (because even in the face of death, life should be celebrated).
After dropping by the hospice to visit her mum, Von and I picked Drew up, and drove to Punggol. There, Von and I had the privilege of officially being Drew’s first passengers :D
Drew also drove us (i.e. me seating beside Drew and trying not to sound tense while giving him advice and directions, and Von trying not to fall asleep at the back) to Serene Centre for latte and a matcha-sesame cake whose candle refused to remain lit.
This is what practice, and busyness in general, denied me: the freedom to love and celebrate spontaneously. This is the stuff, as the flipside to stuffy obligations (which are of course crucial but never enough), that community is made of.
7. Fr Amal
That same day, I went for a sharing by Fr Amal which Caritas Young Adults organised. Fr Amal has worked in the field for more than 20 years, and he now works in the slums of Myanmmar. He often humbles himself by saying that he is not as well-educated as his Jesuit lecturer-peers; but where lecturers speak with the authority of textbooks, Fr Amal speaks with the authority of experience. When he speaks about deep theory that is backed up by personal narratives, his insights are heartstirringly compelling.
I plan to email him soon, to discuss the possibility of me spending around 3 months with him in Myanmmar next year.
And that’s all, folks. For now.