First thing I admit – I cried at the doorstep of 2009 and as I bade goodbye to the rocky 2008. It’s not a yearly ritual of mine but the scanty catch of last year was at times paralyzing. I was shedding tears for the pain that was and the promise of a new year. A fresh start is what most of us often want and I’m grateful to be given the time to start anew.
For some significance beyond my comprehension, my scholarship at Queens in Ontario has been at bay for 3 years now. It seemed more like an exercise in imagination and hope than really feeling the Canadian cold between reading and writing. Some things, I guess, are just meant to stretch our patience, period. Then when it’s time to let it go, it equally means being open to other possibilities. Loss is never loss at all; most often, it is only a movement of possibilities for growth, or a shifting of priorities. So I am moving on this year, me, a water Ox (chariiing).
This is the second thing I will admit – I read Chinese horoscopes, too. I do think they are intriguing, perhaps, as intriguing as the white smoke that billows out at the Vatican’s chimney upon an election of a new Pope. I do think Chinese horoscopes are keen observations of the pattern and rhythms of animals and peoples and plants and nature. They are scientific to some degree if we mean by science the human effort to uncover the logic of the world, the pattern of the world. So I read Chinese horoscopes to test some synchronicity between the actual me and the primitive “scientific” fact enshrined in those animals. In between those reading time are silent consensus and I believe I am not alone in those “A-ha” moments. But then, this cosmic dozen of Chinese beasts does not predestine my life and my choices. It is not my compass, or my north star. I guess most of us could simply lift our shoulder saying it’s just the Asian in us, very much in parallel with the American Indian tradition of naming themselves after an animal.
In this Feast of the Epiphany, when the Magi were guided by a star into the Little Savior, I remain strong in my resolve to claim Jesus as my destination and the mission entrusted to me as my compass, my guiding star. It took me some wandering to settle with my mission, made me wondering if the Magi themselves had wandered for years decoding the astrological signs pointing to Bethlehem. The wandering – it can happen until one’s mission in life settles like a gentle feather in one’s soul. I’m glad I’ve found mine. Have you figured out yours? Are you ready to peek at mine? Here it is, fresh from my diary, but an entry of almost 3 years ago.
“It was one ordinary day of walking at a sports complex. As usual, the open sky domed the place and the surrounding mountains serve as magnificent backdrops. The mountain of Mayapay, which is often kissed by clouds reminded me of the mountain in my dream. But day in and out, I had been feeling so tired of treading the unknown paths. While walking, I prayed asking the Lord for one thing. I was talking to the Lord, believing that He was walking beside me that one ordinary morning. Tears were welling up, where else, but in my eyes. I felt the presence of the Lord. I asked Him for one thing: to show me the way and to give me a sense of direction in life. The following night, I was up in the middle of sleep and I couldn’t wait to write the one line that stirred me: to become God’s living compassion among the suffering sick. I mulled over the line, trying to mentally masticate it while also feeling I’m being seized by its simplicity. I feel like it’s the still point to use TS Eliot’s phrase, where all dances are drawn into the dance. It simply has its drawing power.
Eventually, I realized the statement must be connected to my “Emmaus experience” that one ordinary, walking morning.”
This simple mission, side by side with becoming a Christlike family man, this is my star to the manger, my compass towards the call for wholeness (holiness). Just in case you haven’t figured out yours, here are 3 friendly advises:
- Pray. Dialogue with God. Remember, a mission is bigger than a personal ambition or dream because God wants to get involved, to say the least.
- From American scholar Joseph Campbell – “Go back to your childhood and find what was the real fascination.” I did mine here. Those early impressions about what we want to be are deeply ingrained in our cells.
- Look around you, sort those needs around you, keeping in mind this beautiful quote from theologian Frederick Buechner: “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”
You may add your advise in the comment section. In my next post, I will reflect on the intersection between my mission and the needs I see around. Beyond personal ambition, may God reveal to us all our mission in life we can carry out this New Year 2009.
Photo credit: Mr. Geoff