Monthly Archives: November 2014

I don’t know what it is about Christmas

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Beginning the 25 days of advent

I decide I should go on a diet

A perhaps method of making myself

A little more impressive and less bumbling

Through these festive meetings

and festive feelings.


Yesterday peppermint candy cane latte misted my eyes while

I babbled; thinking perhaps a good Christmas gift would be my

Absent sense of sophistication.

My friends’ eyes float innocently to their phones.

And I tag their faces accordingly.

One, editing photos. The other, arranging a date

The third, possibly discussing his

community Christmas gift drive.

I sink in my self-subjected isolation

Lulled by seasonal lullabies.

Outside the window, light vanishes into light


And every snowflake is in fact a character of its own

Dendrical, sectored, rimed or radiating

I shiver with the realization that the white kisses on my skin are each

A cold morphology, like myself

Frozen in change.

Above me the sky is soft grey and gentle lights line the street,

A reminder of tenderness, or its absence.

I blink back bewildered tears as a

blanket of cold finds me, assuring

It’s not a sin to be weaving through them

with nothing in my hands


concentrationAfter my little depressive bout last week I set my mind to getting some errands done to ease my inertia. Familiar songs and familiar smells of Christmas are all about now. I have a few short weeks to revise (or rather to start and finish studying) the semester’s work, lose enough weight to fit into a pair of pants and get my body and mind fit enough before I head for the ski slopes and then to London. The annual year-end fix yourself challenge.

Consider A Move by Michael Ryan

Consider A Move

The steady time of being unknown,
in solitude, without friends,
is not a steadiness that sustains.
I hear your voice waver on the phone:

Haven’t talked to anyone for days.
I drive around. I sit in parking lots.

The voice zeroes through my ear, and waits.
What should I say? There are ways

to meet people you will want to love?
I know of none. You come out stronger
having gone through this? I no longer
believe that, if I once did. Consider a move,

a change, a job, a new place to live,
someplace you’d like to be. That’s not it,
you say. Now time turns back. We almost touch.
Then what is? I ask. What is?

I first stumbled upon this poem when I returned to Singapore from London, and since then have become quite fond of it. This has been a sad week, because I moved out of my house to a relative’s place, and have been feeling desperately homesick. It’s ironic – I lived alone for so long in London and never missed home, yet a short distance move like this has made me feel so bereft. It was my idea – I wanted the space and the quiet, but now I’m actually missing the angst and the chaos. In any case I shall be remaining here at least for a short while, until there is an appropriate moment to express that I want to return.

The steady time of being unknown. This space does not receive me. I roll on the bed, playing videos and music, trying to fill the emptiness. My body is too heavy. I’m too sad to get stuff done.  I text my friends, hoping for some comfort. I receive a prayer, a few snaps, scattered smiley faces. Not alone, my friend says. Not alone. I close my eyes and try to believe its true.

I drive around. I sit in parking lots, go to school in an attempt to feel like everything is fine. I just don’t feel good, I say. My friend gives me a long hug, buys me dinner, lets me lean on her shoulder. I don’t know why but even the sky looks different, just because I’m going home to a different house tonight.

My mother comes to pass me things. You just need to get used to it, she says. That’s not it, my heart replies, and sinks as she drives away. But if that’s not it, then what is? What is it in the end? Perhaps my heart just wants to go back to a place where it had a chance at being found.

Growing Pains by John Lauren and Paula Sandford

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Children are closest to grief. Not yet able to examine the world with their mind, they feel the world with their spirit. And in their spirit they may have knowledge of events that happened that they have never been told about. Most of our personality is crystallised by 5, and most hurt happens to us when we are at our most vulnerable. Issues that beset the adult often have their origins in the womb, and our emotional responses in adulthood are often fueled by experiences and reactions made in early life.

How is a person born again? A person is born again when he is carried in the hearts of people who love him. We are all healed by love.

Quotes (emphasis my own):

“As we mature, we interpret experiences with our mind, but before we have developed intellect with which to reason we have a mind in the spirit within us. As soon as we begin to form within the womb, that breath from God, which is the core of our essence, is breathed into us, or we would not have life at all”

“A chronic state of uncertainty, fear, and deep-seated anxiety is built into a child in utero whose mother smokes, and he will react when his mother even thinks of having a cigarette… Dr. Verny related numerous fascinating stories of prenatal memory and many case histories in which the doctors concluded in some way the child made decisions to react, such as refusal to bond with the mother after birth because of her refusal to bond with the child before delivery. He reported the formation of attitudes and personality traits as a result of prenatal or birth trauma”

We begin to store treasure in our heart from the moment we become a living being; our treasure is made up of every experience we have ever had, the responses we have made to them, and the attitudes, judgments and expectations we hold”

“Whether you are praying for a baby or an adult, the reality of Jesus affecting the spirit of a person is made possible through prayer for the innermost being of the tiny child inside the one for whom you pray… asking Him to identify with a wounded spirit all the way back to the time of conception… we speak the comfort, reassurance, and affirmation of the Lord directly into the spirit of the child”

“Very young children may be prayer for aloud as they sleep, and their spirits will hear the prayer and be gradually secured in love”

“The inner one is like a little child, and so he says, ‘Tell me again. Tell me again.’ He needs many repeated prayers. Christians who pray with him may need to associate on a regular basis as spiritual mothers and father in Christ to do for him what his natural parents failed to do”

The spirit of a young child experiences far more than he can know with his mind and that it is possible that he had known in his spirit the absence of his parents”

“Little girls want to be the apple of their daddies’ eyes. They come to earth innately knowing they are God’s gift to ravish their daddies’ hearts, to comfort, delight, and please. Being received by an appreciative father builds confidence in what is to be a woman.”

Real fellowship is dependent upon the ability of our spirits to reach out and deeply connect with one another… We can understand and be refreshed in one another’s company only if our spirits are able to meet and nourish one another. Anyone who has touched the clamminess of a corpse has recognised the absence of spirit”

“But what of the many tragically wounded who are not healed by love? To the degree that each of us has formed a heart of stone we have to that degree failed to become fully human. To that same degree, we have closed down the very faculties needed for real interchange of heart and mind. We will not let the spirit be vulnerable, open to touch and embrace. It hurts too much. We hide behind stone walls.”

Some people have talked all their lives and have never known a moment’s communication

“Real conscience is cultivated solely by the ability of our spirit to love, to meet, to enter in and share another’s life for the other’s sake”

“In ‘I-thou’ encounters, each ‘I’ meets and treats any other person as a revered ‘thou,’ spirit to spirit, heart to heart, mind to mind, openly and without impediment. I-thou can be pictured by imagining two sparks radiating light into and through each other until, if one is blue and the other yellow, a green field suffuses both equally without eradicating either, at once brightening both the original yellow and blue. Whoever learnt to live in I-thou relationships learnt to cherish the other. He hurts in anticipation of the other’s hurt and therefore stops before a personal action might wound the other. The is the true function of conscience

“The tragedy of our culture is that men and women are becoming progressively less human. God wants to raise human beings… In Him, we are to become more and more human, more warm and loving, vulnerable, and compassionate. ”

“She needed God’s love through human vessels. Good friends and prayer ministers must know their worth as God’s messengers of love”

“Ministers, doctors, and lawyers most commonly are afflicted with hidden, ossified hearts. Those who were born with loving natures but were prevented from learning true give-and-take have often built strong walls to protect those naturally tender hearts”

[Of a dyslexic boy healed by prayer and ministry] “’Because of emotionally painfully circumstances surrounding his birth, he didn’t want to be born. His spirit is in his body backward.’ That was probably a symbolic description of the way his spirit was turned away from life.

“As dyslexics often do when we pray for them, James felt like he was spinning inside. It was as if God was turning him around to face into life, instead of away from it, and the quick change was momentarily disorientating… In the coming days, the ‘fog’ continued to clear”

“For I am poor and needy, and my heart is wounded within me.” ~ Psalm 109:22

The Winter Vault by Anne Michaels

9781408801086Anne Michael’s writing is meant to be absorbed slowly. In every brief exchange, every lyrical conversation and every heartbreaking image, you feel the presences, absences and essences that pervade in the lives of the characters, and also your own life. No other author has taught me so much about the universality of loss, about finding beauty in broken places, about how beautiful and alive with love everything in the world is – even death.

I took down so many lines as I went along and it felt almost sacrilegious, to be removing the words from the book. I actually enjoyed this book more than Fugitive Pieces, perhaps because over the past year my mind has become more able to receive the sensitivities in the author’s writing. Perhaps also because there is a lot in this book about mothers and fathers and children, a subject which always pulls at my heart.

Quotes:

(1) “My life formed around an absence. Every bit of pleasure, each window of lamplight against the night snow, the drowsy smell of the summer roses, attached itself to the fact of her absence. Everything in this world is what has been left behind”

(2) “I think we each have only one or two philosophical or political ideas in our life, one or two organizing principles during our whole life, and all the rest falls from there…”

(3) “Long after you’ve forgotten someone’s voice, said Jean, you can still remember the sound of their happiness or their sadness. You can feel it in your body.”

(4) “– Daughters don’t stop crying for their mothers, Marina said, and I had ten more years with mine than you had with yours. We long for our mothers more, not less. Suddenly she jumped up and rushed to the oven. The seed biscuits had shrivelled into charcoal. She opened the window and the winter air filled the kitchen.

— It’s like a spell, said Marina. Nothing eat away time like the past”

(5) “In every childhood there is a door that closes, Marina had said. And: only real love waits while we journey through our grief. That is the real trustworthiness between people. In all the epics, in all the stories that have lasted through many lifetimes, it is always the same truth: love must wait for wounds to heal.”

(6) “Every object,” my father used to say, “is also a concept.” If you place two or three or ten things next to each other than have never been next to each other before, this will produce a new concept. And nothing proves the existence of a future like a question…”

(7) “—We do not like to think about children’s fears, Marina had said one afternoon in the weeks alone with Jean. We push them aside to concentrate on their innocence. But children are close to grief, they are closer to grief than we are. They feel it, undiluted, and then gradually they grow away from that flesh-knowledge. They know all about the terror of the woods, the witch-mother, things buried and not seen again. In every child’s fear is always the fear of the worst thing, the loss of the person they love most”

(8) “We must learn the value of each other’s words, what they cost”

(9) “Love permeates everything, the world is saturated with it, or is emptied of it. Always this beautiful or this bereft”

(10) “The past does not change, nor our need for it. What must change is the way of telling.”

(11) “For better or for worse, said Marina, slowly rising from her chair, love is a catastrophe.”

(12) “A moment passes, with all its possibilities. All that love allows us, and does not allow.”