Sep 30, 2013

the Greek life: amazing dinners, lots of wine, vowing never to eat so much again

So, yes. Seven weeks after returning from a three-week trip to Yale, Connecticut, I am here in Greece. Since we don't have exams yet, there's this Week 7 program in Yale-NUS where we get to embark on a "project" with our professors. There are projects in Singapore, like the religious experience one; then there are those to places like Bandar Aceh (post-tsunami), Bali (Miss World), Yogyakarta (Ramayana performed in wayang), aaaand GREECE! I was incredibly fortunate to have gotten my first choice. So here I am, marvelling at the history, making it my goal to be able to read Greek by the end of this trip.


It is dark: 1.49am. I am sitting at the balcony of my hotel room at the super quaint, homely, charming Hotel Pelops in Ancient Olympia. It is 22 degrees C and I’ve got a jacket on. The slight chill is perfect. The cloudless sky is beautiful at night, star-studded, constellations I don’t recognize.

My Greece trip has been nothing short of beautiful, from the touristy shops to the archaeological ruins. However, there is this slight hint of a sort of melancholic gloom in the air. Perhaps it has to do with the way they sell you stuff – they are slightly persistent, but also held back, like they expect you to walk away anyway – or perhaps it’s the graffiti you see on the walls, spray-painted declarations of frustration with the government. Maybe it’s the despair as Greece enters its sixth year of recession. Maybe it’s the knowing that all the tourism of your country is based on ancient glory, a time in the past where Greece was abundant, lavish, magnificent.


I look up at the remains of the temple of Zeus and am just blown away. It’s too majestic, too beautiful, to be captured on a camera screen. I snap countless photos on my iPhone, digital camera and instax, but nothing does it justice. Then I’m reminded of something Chris Tee taught me when we were watching the sunrise in Boston – you can never really accurately capture an experience on camera. The only way to truly experience it is to be in the moment; you can only remember the beauty, and it’s only yours. 

IMG_0626 IMG_0582
Olympia is quaint and quiet as compared to the bustling tourist crowds in Athens (it’s weird, because today’s the torch-lighting ceremony in Olympia, and I expected there to be far more people here, but the shopkeepers say today’s an unusually quiet, tourist-free day. Tomorrow there are two cruise ships coming, which means a couple of thousand people will be descending on this place, so we’ll see how the experience today compares).

Yes, we got to witness the torch-lighting ceremony – we didn’t have the privilege of witnessing the actual lighting of the torch at the Temple of Hera, but just being at the ceremony was incredible. Despite the pain of baking in the sun for hours, the entire experience – walking past gigantic, towering columns that date back thousands of years; stepping through the ancient archway to a large field enclosed by hills with mountains in the background; checking out the dorms in the International Olympic Academy and getting water and small bites at the reception like bigshots – was unparalleled, man. I’ve been trying to stop myself from doing the Classic Karen “OMYGAAAWD IT’S SO PRETTY IT’S SO PRETTY” squeal that some of my classmates love to imitate, but I was really generous with that today everywhere I went, from the site of the torch-bearing ceremony to the streets and even our beautiful hotel.


It’s now 3.30am (I got distracted halfway through this post because Eugene came out to check out the stars with me and show me the amazing photos he had uploaded). In a few hours’ time we’ll be checking out the archaeological site. More Polaroids and squealing! Καληνύχτα (good night)!

Why do you love someone?

It's hard to explain. Hmm, they look great, they're really smart, they intrigue you when they speak, they have this spark in their eyes maybe. But so? I'm sure you have many friends like that. Some more 'qualifiable' by those standards. Why does a particular someone captivate you this way? I used to ask myself that a lot (before school started - no time for that since term began lol). I'd look at the girls my friends gushed about and ask: What do I have that she doesn't? Is she that much better than I am? How so? 

Now I realise it is simply another way of loving someone. I know some fantastic, incredible, mind-blowing, amazing people, and I love them. Just not in that way. But the feeling isn't any less strong. And it is hard to explain why you don't like them in this other particular way. It's just not about that. You see them and you want to spend time with them and love them, as a person, as a beautiful entity, but you wouldn't go on dates with them and mushy things would be weird.

It's like the foundation is to love someone for who they are. It's easiest to describe this with the help of the Greek words for love (no, I didn't learn this here in Greece; I learnt this in SOT). You start with philia, the mental love, affection, friendship. It is a virtuous love, one that understands the concept of give and take in any relationship; one that is willing to persevere; one that sees both as equals.

From the foundation of philia, you then branch out into eros and agape. Eros is "physical passionate love", "romantic, pure emotion without the balance of logic". It doesn't have to be about sexual desire, but it is the romantic tie between couples, the bond in a marriage.

There is also agape, a selfless unconditional love that expects nothing in return. It is the highest form of love, the most you can love; it is spiritual, sacrificial, and can be used to describe the relationship between parents and children, spouses, God's love for us, and any other relationship in general that is characterised by this reckless, giving, epitome of love.

Based on my understanding of it, I would put philia as the foundation of a friendship or relationship; from there, you can branch out into two routes that end with agape, but one route has eros in between. So one is philia-eros-agape, and the other is philia-agape. You can't really explain why you don't feel that eros. Your heart just decided to take a different route and be undistracted by that pit stop.

Do you love someone in the agape way? That is enough. It'd be great if that person loved you back in the agape way too, but because agape is selfless and sacrificial, it doesn't matter, and the lack of reciprocation wouldn't affect how you love. There is no need to ask why the eros stage is skipped, or why the friendship is still at philia - philia is still a strong, admirable stage, one that involves trust and commitment; whether eros is involved in your stages of love is pretty arbitrary, really.

My tuition kid recently reminded me of the quote that said "do not let someone be a priority if you are only an option".

This post is dedicated to you (I'm sure you know who you are). Thank you for your philia, for your trust and confidence. It doesn't matter that...well...that things are the way they are, because agape is selfless; it loves for the sake of loving regardless of reciprocation. You know that I have the fear of an imbalanced friendship, where one sees the other with much more prominence and regard in their life than the other does. You know I hate to be at the vulnerable, desperate, losing end, and I have tried to defend myself against it by backing out first, to avoid getting hurt and being the last one left. But I'm starting to try to let go of that mindset and just agape regardless. You say it is okay that I am so dependent. I will try to be reckless for the sake of it, to let myself give and be happy about that. I am also trying my best to be understanding, because of the situation and you; I know I was in your shoes not too long ago, and my own friends were selfless in loving me throughout. I am trying my best to be strong and selfless like them, so that I can do them proud and reciprocate their love by passing on the selflessness.

I know that it is hard to find space in the heart for more than one, and perhaps the reason for my own insecurity is because I know myself. I know how selective I am in my heart, how I have little room in my heart, how I really am an ugly, low, lesser person. But I believe that you are a far better person than I am. I believe you are purer in love, thought and intent; I believe you are more virtuous. And I am trying very hard to not let my own weaknesses make me afraid of others. I believe you are a better person and I am trying my best to let my heart trust so.

So, anyway, thank you for your philia, and perhaps storge, too (look it up). I believe I'm somewhere between storge and agape, I guess (I hope - perhaps it's too soon to tell). Eros will always be out of the picture, thank goodness, because I would rather not set my eyes on the pit stop and look towards agape. Eros, to me, is too energy-consuming, too painful, too much too fast too passionate and so far, it has yet to leave me as whole as before each time. So thank you for the trust, for wanting to spend time with me too, for the hugs I demand, for taking up the tender responsibility of looking after a case like karen. And so I hope that in time you come to feel agape too. ^^

Sep 26, 2013

The Writer

I am a writer. Inspiration is a big red river that flows from the recesses of my heart to just under my skin right out to the blank paper. I bleed. I bleed every time I write, or I write every time I bleed. It's cathartic. I have a gushing stream beneath my skin and all I need to do is break the dam and let it run onto the page. It comes out striking, shocking, bold, beautiful and I lie back; it is finished for now.

I have these big ugly problems and if you took a good look at me you'd see them all, every imperfection, and it makes me an unattractive person. Too mopey, too dull, too black and complex to be bothered with. It's boring in real life but it comes out in words nice and pretty.

I publish. I sell big-time. This is the dream of every girl like me. They like me now. People find me honest, relatable; people feel I articulate their own inner selves and the universal pain so rarely expressed. At the book launches and café interviews, they ask me, what experiences made you want to write about this? Where do you get your inspiration from? And your strength? You write about how your ugliness makes you beautiful. How do you see yourself now? Looking back at the old you, what would you tell yourself?

It's like once I've sold my copies and made it big they expect me to be a different person now, beautiful through and through, confident and radiant, past the brokenness. As if the pain I wrote about is all so distant now.

The cameras and the sales don't change who I am. I am still a bleeding red mess. I still write, just more carelessly and less elegantly, because now I don't need to worry about how well it'll sell. I haven't changed. See, writing is far less beautiful and glamorous than it seems. It doesn't change your life. It's simply the by-product. And fame or glamour or accomplishment will never change who you are. I will still be as broken, as boring and imperfect, as unattractive. Only God has that capacity to change a person, make my entire being a past so seamlessly.

it isn't a fire as much as it's a glow


Sometimes you have to get your shit together and know that life is fair, life knows you better than you know yourself, and you cannot have everything. Know that karma remembers, and you're simply on the receiving end now, the other end of the line. Smile. Get off your ass. God even gave you the resources to help you cope; you simply need to make use of it and stop moping.

Also, stop being so honest. Some things are in the air but cannot be articulated it'll ruin everything and sometimes there are some answers you'd rather not concretise in words. You know it. Stop ruining it for yourself.

I guess that love is like a christmas card 
You decorate a tree you throw it in the yard 
It decays and dies and the snowmen melt 
Well I once knew love I knew how love felt 
Yeah I knew love, love knew me 
And when I walked love walked with me 
And I got no hate and I got no pride 
Well I got so much love that I cannot hide

I wish you love I wish you happiness
I guess I wish you all the best

Sep 25, 2013

phone calls

"Okay," he said. "I gotta go sleep. It's almost one."
"Okay," I said.
"Okay," he said.
I giggled and said, "Okay." And then the line was quiet but not dead. I almost felt like he was there in my room with me, but in a way it was better, like I was not in my room and he was not in his, but instead we were together in some invisible and tenuous third space that could only be visited on the phone.
The Fault In Our Stars

In Primary 4 Yan Hua and I would talk to each other for hours on the phone. And there was nothing much to talk about so we did stupid things like "what are you eating?" "cereal, do you want some?" "mm yeah push it through the telephone holes" *SCRUNCHSCRUNCHSCRUNCH* "did you get it?" "yes i did! yummmm!". And sometimes there was silence, especially if one of us was eating, and that was okay, because we still had company. I could be lazing on my couch completely unglam and it was fine because I had the liberty of privacy, but also the comfort of company. At times we'd just leave the phone on, perhaps glued to our ears, while we did our own things just not talking to each other at all. And when we eventually decided to hang up it would feel lonely, even though it was just as silent as before.

I never knew how to describe it. It's just the comfort of knowing someone's kind of there, listening out for you, making the effort to be with you, even if not physically. And sometimes being on the phone is even better than being together in real life because you still have your own privacy - you could be wearing a green face mask or in your undies or in the shower and it wouldn't matter at all. The third space.

Sep 24, 2013

if i happen to die anytime soon

1) Peiyun gets my guitar.

2) My cajon goes to my brother, although Joshua Wong and Jevon are totally completely free to borrow it anytime they want (I Will Feel Offended If You Don't Borrow It)

3) The photos in my dorm go to whoever I took each photo with (if there's more than one other person in the photo, let them sort it out among themselves. Except the one where Sau and I pose with a sign that says We (heart) Kevin - I'm sure both of us would want him to have it)

4) My phone and my diary are mine and mine alone. I guess they have to be burnt (or buried with me)'s sad that we can't preserve memories forever; they die with us.

5) At my funeral, Kevin must do me a eulogy in poetry.

6) All my money, of course, goes back to my parents. I'd regret that I can't earn more to pay them back.

7) My bible goes to Sumay.

8) My books are for any of my friends, provided they share them after they're done with them!

9) It'd be lovely if my 'random little bits of writing'-tabbed posts were compiled and printed and shared, just because.

10) My Macbook goes to my tuition kid and friend at the Salvation Army, Cecilia.

11) I love every single one of you whom I've encountered in my life, from my kindergarten classmates to my JC friends and Yale-NUS classmates and family and cousins, because you have given me a memory, and with experience comes lessons and everything intangible and irreplaceable.

12) Thank you for not dying before me.

(HAHA no I'm not expecting myself to die in Greece / feeling suicidal / feeling sad or anything. Just thought it'd be fun to do)

Sep 19, 2013

A few hugs that meant a lot

(different yous all made one; a collective, a melding of personalities)

2008, I was at my church's prayer meeting for the first time. I was terrified. Wanted out. Was crying in fear. You came to me and gave me a long hug that made me feel protected, like I had someone beautiful and loving looking out for me. When Jason prayed for me, I told him that I was scared, but he didn't hear me. As he stood there with his hand on my head, though, I felt like he was my big brother, like I could entrust him with everything; as long as he was there, I didn't need to worry at all.

2013, post-Orientation. The first time I met you was at your own orientation the year before, and a fast, strong bond formed between us - you the wide-eyed junior still exploring and finding his way; me the excited senior experiencing life again through your lens. Full-circle - now this was the moment we had both been waiting for. And it was finally over. You had done it. We were both bursting with pride and the exhilaration of a year-long journey just completed. I was so proud of you. I gave you a hug to tell you so. And you held it long enough to bring us back both to the start, the initial excitement and the dreams, the fear and all the growth in a year. The tightness of your embrace said it's done. It happened. We came full circle. I was here at the start and now you did it; this is what we were waiting for.

And then there was the one that meant goodbye forever. But it was more than that. A goodbye with all the love, the overflowing joy; the nights of unbearable pain; every single word unspoken that would fill an auditorium and make it opaque. Love refusing to be spoken because you didn't want to acknowledge it, because this was goodbye forever and there was no space for hurt. Goodbye - you to your country, and me to my second home, but it already felt like we had been ripped apart three months before. What did this even mean anymore?

And then there was the one that said omg hello!!!!!! I was a little taken aback at first, but I was so happy to see you again, too. For all the good times, the heart-to-hearts, the unshakeable trust, the carefree atmosphere. Less and less so now but I still miss you, and I was so excited to see you again, too. Even though we had only not seen each other for less than a week. It felt so much longer than that. And with your love and mine, we will build the good times again.

And then there was the one that said you were vulnerable. Your shy, small-voiced request, and your quiet receptiveness. And I want to tell you it's okay. I need hugs all the time and I trust only you. If you won't ask for them, I will. I won't even ask. With you I am most comfortable, and friends are unreserved.

And then there was the one that said you knew. You knew I only had, and needed, you. You knew I hated it, and especially hated it being found out - I was afraid my neediness would betray me. You understood. And you said it was okay. You wouldn't run away.

The fact that you were fine with it was all I needed.

Sep 18, 2013

Get the moonlight out of your hair

To days of inspiration, playing hooky, making something out of nothing
The need to express, to communicate
To going against the grain, going insane, going mad
To loving tension, no pension, to more than one dimension
To starving for attention, hating convention, hating pretension
Not to mention of course hating dear old mom and dad

To riding your bike midday past the three-piece suits
To fruits, to no absolutes
To Absolut, to choice,  to the Village Voice
To any passing fad
To being an 'us' for once, instead of a 'them'

La vie boheme
La vie boheme

Sep 13, 2013

photos from years ago now

i don't know if you remember the only photo we took together in the time that we were together; at the bus stop, the night we kissed for the second time i think. and i thought ah it's such a bad photo but there'll always be more opportunities but well i guess you can never tell. i think that was two days before you stopped talking to me.

it is a terrible photo. blur and we both look really bad. but i've got my big smile on, and you're smiling and you're turning to look at me and i just like remembering the emotions of that second

i guess it's nice to look back at photos and bring back memories once in a while, to remember that i was once so alive
once i lived in bliss, in heaven, heaven in the back of a bus, heaven in the world of two, and although now i remember the pain far more, the sheer happiness was undeniable, oh how i lived

or maybe i'd rather not remember how alive and magical and beautiful, the beauty it was

that photo brings it back, the second and last time - you uncertain, afraid, taking the initative, such a noob, gaining confidence, learning how to do it right; you pushing me into the pool; our one final hug; how i cried at the park; how you called me at sji to say it wasn't fun because i wasn't there; you and me at the staircase landing and me in that old-looking new top "i can see myself in your eyes" / the moment i stood up awkwardly to look like i was walking away when a couple emerged from the lift; back to that second kiss again, me keeping a lookout on the lift; the one time on the forty-ninth floor; how it was always me on your lap and the little sweet honest things you'd say; 49th floor again, jaywalking across the road holding hands and i put my arm round you tentatively because you don't like affection being displayed like that but you smiled and put your arm round me too to draw me closer

so easily you remember how your heart used to beat, how the surge of happiness and confidence and reassurance bubbled from your heart into a smile

all too easily being alive comes back, how i was consumed by all this

consumed; so much; too much, too much for now, and i cannot trust myself

Sep 11, 2013

fear: trust

"do not be afraid", i write with trembling hands. do not be afraid to put your heart out there, trust a friend completely, trust that it's okay to live and breathe each other, trust that they will not leave you, that you both will need and treasure each other completely, equally. trust that the midnight talks will never end. all you want to do is be with each other. it takes effort on both sides. both sides have to let go of themselves - the easiest person to trust - and reach out to hold each other, each trusting that his hands won't be left empty.

You say it will take you time to learn to trust again. I wonder if all this advice is actually meant for myself instead. As we walk I feel my heart keeping guard: a knowing, resigned fear. 

(he'll leave anytime
in the blink of an eye he'll walk away
and it will never be the same)

the truth is i'm scared too; i'm scared we're diving deep but you'll climb out as quickly as you got in, while i'm left here. This is when I start planning, preparing, closing off, worrying. Build a raft of people so that even if I fall I don't hit the ground.   

Can I really? Can I really withdraw and say I don't need you, that you're not really all I have? Can I learn to detach and be comfortable? Should I get out of this river and look for wading pools now? Can I?

Sep 10, 2013

would you call yourself a writer?

"Hi, I'm Karen. I don't really like saying 'I'm a writer' or 'I write' or defining who I am by the fact that I write. I don't write out of choice. I write out of emotional necessity."

I was talking to someone about this, who agreed and said "I wouldn't think of myself as a creative writer either because it's from my own life and my own emotions. And when I post it's very cathartic." And who went on to say that I wrote boldly, openly and honestly.

Well, yeah. I write openly and honestly because it's just from my own life and my own emotions. I like to try and make it pretty, but I can't come up with something on command. I can't write for the sake of writing, or even for the sake of beauty.

I don't really think I have a choice - it's my only form of expression and release. I need to get it out there. I'm often surprised when people say they like a post that flew out from my fingertips in a twenty-minute bleed of emotion, because I gave it hardly any thought. I just needed to reach inside to find that ache and put it on the screen. It's honest and raw in emotion because if not it wouldn't work, but the content of the pieces are often just a bit of truth mixed with a huge lot of other stuff and stories from wherever. To protect myself and other people. (sorry guys, my life is actually pretty boring) It's like I have to put this big bold red line out on the screen but I don't want it to be found so I add in a whole lot of other bold coloured lines and geometric shapes so the red line is just a stroke in a painting.

I don't know why I started talking about this.

Anyway yeah lol

Sep 6, 2013

this reminds me of airport walks

this is to the one who leaves tomorrow.

I remember how you love her and it gives me hope about love in the world in general. Every time you mention her name you say it like it's music. Even the casual remark comes with a stirring of your heart that's reflected in the almost-unnoticeable pause, in the split-second glazing over of your eyes. You're a good-looking guy with a trunk of experiences and so much to live for and you're more-than-confident in who you are and she's an average-seeming girl with a beautiful heart and you catch that heart right away. You used to show me her pictures even though I know her and you say "isn't she so beautiful?" and my honest response is that she's above average, but not the drop-dead crowd-stopper, but I love how you see the extraordinary heart in her above all, and that's what makes her so stunningly gorgeous to you. I love it. I love how you see her and it warms my heart to hope that someday, when someone loves me, perhaps he might see me that way, too.

The way you make a girl feel so special. I can only imagine it, how her heart blossoms as you nurture it; how you love her with everything you've got, how you build her as she takes up all of you. How she reveals her insecurities to you in the little questions and how you give her all the love and reassurance a girl would ever need.

You really are quite good-looking but the thing about you I admire most is that you see people for who they are. You're not one of the cute guys with extra-cute girlfriends. Not that they aren't beautiful people inside too, of course. But you see and know the heart above all. Thank you for making known the beauty of her heart. Thank you for showing me how a guy can really love a girl.

I remember your five points. I wrote them down. And this is not the farewell letter I promised you, but I just wanted to say this here. And that I wish I had given you a better goodbye hug. And thank you for letting me drive your car even though I was so terrible at it. Bicycles are also awesome.

And I do hope for nothing but the best for you, and for you and her. It truly is beautiful and it gives me hope.

Sep 5, 2013

it takes an ocean not to break

[mood: birdy]

you seem so out of context in this gaudy apartment complex
a stranger with your door key explaining that i am just visiting
and i am finally seeing why i was the one worth leaving
why i was the one worth leaving


(i absolutely love her voice)

Sep 4, 2013

i read it and i feel the stone weighing down in my heart. i want to cry. i close the door. i let myself cry. after a while i walk up to the door to lock it, and i let myself cry harder. if you knocked on my door i would ignore you. if you came in to comfort me i'd push you out.

i cry because she is right.

it's who i am. she actually understands. (i hear footsteps. be quiet.)

i do need you. i have an emotional capacity as vast as the sea and it comes off too strong. i don't want to scare people away. i try to conceal it. i don't want to come across as a desperate dog, an obligation a duty a burden. but she exposes who i am. the inconvenient side of me. the one i admit to but that also scares me. i cry because it scares me. i don't want it.

how you are the air i breathe, what you mean to me, where will i go; i look back up at her words with the intent of reading the whole post through but at each phrase i catch my breath at how she's got it right again, how true, how i hate that it is true, and i lie back down on my bed and let the tears come yet again. takes me another five minutes to sit back up and read the next few words and it happens all over again.

i am weak, i am paper-thin, i am one of those weak young trees that needs to be tied to something in order to stand.

i unlock the door. maybe i want you to walk in and catch me with my tears and come sit here with an arm around me because this is who i am and i'm afraid of it but you know it already and it's okay.

vulnerability -

so complicated a thing. she understands it fully. she puts on paper exactly who i am. i hate it. i hate how it is so true i hate how pathetic i am. but she understands. but i don't want anybody to realise its magnitude like she did. especially not you. i'm afraid it'll scare you off.

maybe i pulled the panic cord

your face is on my news feed.

that's weird, because i've unsubscribed from your posts, because every time i see your face my heart stops for a split second. the heavy hopeless wrench comes back in a hint. that's funny, because i am completely over you. one and a half years since. i don't miss you anymore, the memories don't bring back any feelings whatsoever, i can talk about it with no emotional attachment. and yet the hint of a wrench, and i think of a post i wrote in the past about what it means to cry. [link]

one and a half years and i have completely moved on and it seems like such a distant past but this sudden split-second tug of the heart reminds me that the descent into that endless pit is right here, right here, just a paper-thin wall away. it's a little scary to realise that the past is still just beyond your eyelids. it can become a reality again, snap, just like that.

i don't understand.


on a side note, i love beautiful writing. When you read something poetic and beautiful it gives you this familiar tug. your heart opens up in a gaping yawn and it longs for an embrace. this is to my friends who write, those whose words are so beautifully strung that i stare at the screen and read the same things through again and again, trying to pick at the woven magic within, memorising the fabric and flow - like how you'd memorise every little feature and flaw of a lover, with your eyes taking in every detail, your hands reading texture like braille. i love beauty and these people i know, they wield the tool of words, letters, markings on a screen; it's amazing how they can weave these letters together to connect with you through cyberspace and you're years and countries apart from this text but you feel her tears rolling down your cheeks, too. it's incredible. Thank you. that's who i hope to be someday.


two separate entities, separated by your curled-up legs and the arms wrapping round, and the wall of air. you talk about the best places to get cupcakes and the cute things your mum used to say, and then suddenly the air is thin. A silence of recognition. And then talk gets deeper. You share your insecurities and she talks about her defences. You tell her you aren't who she thinks you are. You say she only sees what everyone else sees and you are driven and excellent in everything but beneath that is a dark pool. There's nothing pretty there. And she says no, you don't know her either, she's got more layers beneath than anyone has bothered to realise.

Suddenly it's a competition: who's worse off than the other, who got hurt deeper, got cut deeper. you talk of your scars, the red angry mouths on your skin that still whisper names. you talk of them, but they are hidden by the sleeves of your hoodie and your arms are wrapped tightly around your shins. she talks of her burns, ugly circles on her tummy, she talks about the birthmark she tried to remove with scissors.

but maybe slowly the walls will start to dissolve. Maybe you will unzip your hoodie to show her the marks on your arms. And then you will slip out of your dress to show her the marks on your waist, the marks that say it's not enough you're not enough there's more, there's more. And she will step out of her skirt to show you the birthmark on her thigh and she will lift her shirt to show you the cigarette burns that make a drunken trail down her belly to mark each spot a lovebite lay before.

and then there's no more separation, no more thin layer of air no more arms wrapped round no more fabric. you face each other and you both see yourselves: yourself in her, herself in you. the scars are silenced - no more mockery. the two of you stand a hair's breadth away from each other and you are complete. you have broken down all the walls and in all your vulnerability, in baring all your insecurities, you find comfort.

Sep 1, 2013


I am suddenly reminded of a Mother's Day service in church some time back - last year, maybe? Pastor got all the mothers to stand in their seats while the rest of us prayed for them. As an elderly woman stood in front of me and I laid my hand on her to pray, I saw a vision of her. Majestic. Sitting on something like a throne, people around her - presumably her family - and she was so, so happy. An explosion of joy and peace and majesty. Gold and so much happiness. I was very taken aback by that image - it was so powerful - and I started tearing up for some reason. After that I wrote down my vision on a piece of paper and passed it to her.

I wonder how she reacted to the note. I hope she read it. I was just reminded about it again today, and even remembering it made me tear.

Well, if you see this, I'm Karen from City Harvest, and I hope you remember the note I wrote you in church. I still remember the image and how vivid and powerful it was. Thank you for allowing God to bless you through me - as it passes through me, I feel the power of His love.

drew me out of the deepest sea

I die every day.

Every day I fall. Every day I don't notice and I slip away. When you don't bother swimming the current pushes you away - you can't 'remain stationary'. It's a fight or nothing.

Every day I don't bother swimming. I fall further, further behind.

Yet every time I meet God He is gracious. He is gracious to give me His peace and reassurance, but never enough, always only enough to make me yearn for more, and then be overcome by guilt because I haven't been fighting. I haven't been praying earnestly, reading the Bible, worshipping in my own time. But He still gives me His love. I pray and He still comes. I can still come to him like a friend, like a daughter.

He draws me out of the sea every day. Salvation isn't one-time anymore. He saves me every day.