Mar 19, 2017

cat day 3



2016-03-01, with minor edits 2017-03-19. chanced upon this and realised it fits with the things that i've been thinking about recently. 

dear cat,

it has taken you a while but you’re finally comfortable with me. on day 1 you peed in terror of seeing So Many People, and for two days you refused to eat. yesterday you hid in the cabinet, refused to let me near, until you realised i gave really good neck scratches. today you climbed into my lap because i was eating something. you look at me with familiarity today. now you fall so easily into the rub-my-belly roll.

today is hell day, rush everything day, and yet i keep getting distracted by you. you lie in bed, sit on the windowsill, a picture of zen. it is so unfair how you just get to lie around in bed all day. i come back from class feeling so frustrated at myself and there you are just lying there. sort of reminds me of the afternoons i napped on k’s bed while he gamed. that serenity in mere company.

dear cat, it is so unfair that you get to be so unreservedly affectionate. i have forgotten what affection is. it has been many years since i fell into a comfortable sort of affection. and those moments were always rare even then. but you, you just curl up on laps and let your tail cling to legs as you walk by. you don’t have to worry about Boundaries and Hormones and Keeping A Healthy Distance Because You Don’t Want Them To Get The Wrong Idea. you just come, and rub your head against my hand, and lie down. and you bring people into that space, guard down comfortable. these couple of days i am covered in cat fur.

we city humans are suffering from an epidemic of loneliness. we have alienated ourselves from others, lost that healthy companionship and physical affection with other humans in true community and philia. a couple of days ago, upon acquiring my new roommate (and you), i marvelled at how accustomed i have become to being on my own. there is that safety in solitude, and also an impenetrability. what would it be like to have your world so intimately integrated with someone else’s? for two people - lovers, friends, siblings - to be in sync, to be connected every moment of the day, an oasis, a safe little world just for yourselves even if you were continents apart. i have forgotten what that is like. even in all the other interactions there has always been this...gap, between my world and the other's. this not being entirely comfortable, entirely trusting, this lack of a sense of home. yet God says to trust him. two weeks ago my church leader told me that God wanted to reassure me that the effort I was putting in, and my expectations, would not go to waste. and that God is more than enough for me. last week Ben said that God was telling me that His love will saturate my heart, and i will see one day that the cracks were there for a reason. these people don't know what i've been going through, but God led their hearts through my concrete walls. i take the word of God in faith. in these days when my heart is a gulf apart from His, He still finds a way in through my friends, and i can only have faith.

Mar 10, 2017

matrix

i am a wanderer in the desert gone too far from the oasis. it is too much to ask of me to go back. i have been running to mirages, glistening dark splendour. please stay. please stay. the illusion slips through my fingers and i crumple to the floor again.

awakening is a return to emptiness. what is left now but the same old, the stale silent heat and the brutal indifference of the sand and the expanse that goes on forever. early on warning bells went off in my head: i saw too many parallels between you and him - in who you were, and in how i began to put my heart at your feet. i didn't want to let myself make the same mistake again but the mirage glistened and soon the illusion became too beautiful to stay where i was. i let myself be drawn in. protected it. defended it. i knew it for what it was, but i didn't let myself give in to reality. let me live this lie. let me pretend. glimpses of truth showed themselves from time to time: the scaffolding of my sky would begin to show its cracks, its tears, its glitches, and i grew afraid, i didn't want to see. i learnt to identify those dangerous moments of realisation, and to dip my head at the right times.

my afternoons are too free. i lie in bed, stare at the lights, and it comes back to me: what now? who will catch you? and who cares if you exist? you are completely alone, an insignificant blip, there is no one around to notice or catch you if you fall. other people are only mirages, illusions you run to, code-generated avatars that do not care.

seal yourself up in airtight solitude. master the art of being smilingly indifferent; only then can you appreciate the mirages.


Mar 9, 2017

triggers

today a guest speaker loosely brought up an example to illustrate a point in which suicide was implied. something about using your freedom of walking to walk to the top of a building and jump off, thereby ending your freedom to walk or to do anything at all. i was like, ouch. he probably doesn't know what happened a few months back. probably not the best thing to say.

the conversation went on and i had a question i really wanted to ask. raised my hand the same time as theo, who was sitting beside me. theo went first. the whole time he was speaking i was trying to clear my mind. partly nerves about speaking up, perhaps. partly trying not to think of the thing. the more i tried not to think about it the more my heart raced. as the speaker answered his question i decided to type it out instead. couldn't speak. would have cried.

dear fondler of the world

so i received a screenshot of a chat between a friend of mine and another girl who had been hit on by you, that she and another girl were walking out of the lecture theatre when they saw you and the other girl rolled her eyes and got all annoyed. she had been hit on by you too. and then it came to light that some other girl had also been hit on by you. not just the entire poly batch of girls, then, but uni too. this friend of mine had also been hit on by you. i was the last one to be hit on by you, i think, before you finally turned around and got back together with the one girl.


you are so

lucky

that a large portion of these girls generally keep your encounters with them to themselves, because they are nice. well not everyone has kept it to themselves. there are some girls who tell everyone else. there was once i asked dennis if he knew you and his reaction was instinctively one of distaste. later on he had a more measured response about how you had hit on his friend but he guessed it “didn’t work out”. (i chuckled to myself then. i guess that was a charitable way of putting it.)

there was once we were having beer in my suite, her her him and me, and we the three girls came to a realisation that we had all been hit on by you at one point. that was quite funny. the only boy in the room was a little awkward. he had known you. he was there at the mixer with you and me, after which you were trying so much to hold my hand that he got uncomfortable and walked away.

how do you feel, serial fondler, that everyone knows? i guess you don’t realise that everyone knows, or that so many are still reeling from the hurt, because they don’t make it known to you. but as she said, if everyone you had ever hurt came to your wedding, it’d fill the church.

Mar 6, 2017

bondservant

Two summers ago, I was in Indonesia for a five-week teaching volunteer internship stint. I was miserable. Just days before departing, I had walked past a girl who looked extremely stoned, whose shirt was unbuttoned to reveal her bra, and a boy who was calling a friend for help over the phone in urgent tones. A thought hit me: why am I going overseas to volunteer, when needs abound right here? I arrived, unprepared and unmotivated, to thirteen volunteers and barely any students because it was Ramadan; the fan broken; the little house steaming in the humidity.

The other volunteers were very different from me, and I couldn't care less for their conversation topics, which comprised little other than sitcoms, parties, alcohol, weed and sex. I was bored out of my wits. I had just come from two incredible church camps, in which I had felt so inspired and rejuvenated spiritually. I was all ready to take a deeper step in worship, spend more time in communion with Him alone in my room, and meet with ministry partners and mentees to edify them. Instead I was whisked off to a centre whose fellow volunteers I couldn't connect with, in a culture so foreign, prayers blaring in a language I didn't understand every dawn and dusk. It just wasn't the right time for me, and I wasn't ready for it. I felt like an alien longing for home.

One Sunday afternoon, I sat in Classroom One, the air bathed in yellow sunlight, listening to Christian music and writing in my diary about how homesick and lonely I was.

I've been waiting 11 days for this morning - the day I get to go to church, where I am free to worship and pray, be with God and His people. But alas - 2.5 out of the 3 songs were in Indonesian, and the Chinese lyrics were in 繁体字. And the translator's Chinese pronunciation was so different, completely unintelligible to me. I couldn't understand anything of the sermon, except that the main text was from Ezekiel 37, the passage about dry bones. Relevant to how I was feeling right then, sitting in the pew all frustrated.

But I was reading "Jesus Among Other Gods" yesterday, and there's a quote: 


"Abraham saw his home as temporary but his worship is permanent. Now, on the run, Jacob was homeless and altarless. When he reached a place called Luz, he slept with a stone for a pillow. Even for a desert dweller, that was rough. // And while he slept, the Lord came to him in a dream...he thought to himself, 'Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it... How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, this is the gate of Heaven.' Jacob took the stone pillow and left it as a marker in the place he was now going to call Bethel - meaning, 'the house of God.'"


Even as I feel homeless and altarless, this place is where God is, too. Bethel is within me. Even when a church cannot meet my needs, Bethel is here. 


I'll have to work out Bethel for myself now. Today I discovered that mornings in the centre are peaceful and empty, and I can utilise them. Find my own way to worship here, listen to sermons online, feed myself. Bethel is within me.


I really miss God, the freedom of worshipping and being with Him. Isaac sent me this song quote yesterday: "Don't turn away from me, for My love won't be undone / Don't hide your face from me, for My light has surely come / Lift up your eyes and see, Heaven is closer than you know / Lift up your voice and sing, know that My love won't let you go, and I won't forsake you."


As I was writing this, Your Presence Is Heaven started playing on YouTube and for some reason I truly felt the presence of Heaven come upon me at that moment. I felt a divine peace embrace me. True tranquility, and the world seemed different. Still.

There was one other girl, Denise, sitting at the table behind me. I had just found out that morning that she was Catholic, but hadn't gone to church since coming to the centre. The peace of God blossoming in my heart, I decided to turn around and ask if I could pray for her. And she said "sure", and I did, led by the Holy Spirit: I thanked God for blessing her with her family (and I felt God in me point out her sister in particular, but I thought, "What? What if she doesn't have a sister? That'd be a weird thing to say, I don't dare say it" - but I later found out that she did indeed have a sister!! Don't doubt your prophecies! Speak in faith!!!), and I prayed that God would show her beautiful things of Him, and draw her closer to Himself in Thailand where she was headed the following week*. By the end of it I was the one in tears.

"Oh- you're crying!!"

It was simply so precious to be able to pray for another Christian at last. Some semblance of Christian community, some spirit of communion. Finally, what was within me had an outlet. I had been texting and Skyping my friends back home the whole time, though, so why was this different? Perhaps it was the feeling of being a channel through which God was flowing. Finally, new anointing, new oil running through me. Finally being able to do ministry, being able to speak the word of God. Once, Evannia got me to write down all the moments where I felt that God's presence had been undeniable in my life, and I realised it was always when I was praying for other people that God showed me what was on His heart, whether through an absurd yet accurate prophecy or through an image of sheer love and purity.


I was reminded of all this today as I sat in church. It wasn't related to what was being preached at all, but God reminded me of this in relation to something that was prophesied over me in my new cell group two days ago. My leader had said that now was the time for me to make a decision about being God's bondservant, dedicating my life entirely to Him; it was time to stop having one foot out the door. It has been hard. Following a friend's death last year, I've been having a hard time trusting in God's tenderness and goodness; I've been fearing the next heartache He would bring. What more might He lead me through, if I surrender all to Him as I did before? Today I remember that Sunday afternoon two years ago, how liberating it was to release God's spirit in community, in ministry. The taste of God, the sweetness of ministry is something I cannot do without. I feel homesick and utterly alone without it. I must be bound to Christ. I cannot live any other way.

--

* This, too, was a prophecy! The Thailand volunteering stint that she had planned was extremely unfulfilling for her, so she decided to leave the place prematurely, and she went instead to a Catholic charity home for children with disabilities, run by nuns. She was able to go to Mass every week and teach catechism classes. When she was there, she texted me sounding all happy and grateful, and declared that my prayer had worked.

Mar 3, 2017

To want to be wanted

is different from desiring to feel needed or wishing to be loved. It is a little more sinister, a little more rough. It starts with a kiss on her mouth and becomes a bite on her neck and it ends with her fingernails in your waist, clinging, pleading. There is something cruel about it. Something erotically sublime in its ravishing brutality, in the way she will grip the back of your head and clutch your hair, in the way she will cry. You want her to cry, for you. It's a sort of power. It fills you up, gives you more than you need. You have been feeling very empty.

-

The truth is that people feel things towards other people, and the same people don't necessarily feel for each other. Also people don't always know what they're feeling, and they mix it up with love; and just because they know it's bad or hopeless doesn't stop them from feeling. Ultimately many people are just very lonely. And what can be done about that? To make friends with a man in the sky; to find oneness with the world, in the grass, in the trees; to swear yourself to another person for the comfort of having her around; to admit the fact, snap a picture and play the game that everyone else is playing, a carousel of masqueraders. swipe. swipe. a chat. a dinner. a play. hands. a kiss. sex. we pretend, we let their interest in us give us the tingles, make us feel wanted. "it's not love. no one's kidding themselves."

What if you wake up one day and look in the mirror and you see the lie that it is, but also that you've let yourself waste away from atrophy, that you're not the whole you used to be. That you're skin and bones, but it'd be too painful now to tear yourself off the lover you've been feeding on. It's been too long; the wound would be too large. You'd never heal. You can't ever be yourself anymore, but it's better to have crutches than nothing. What if you wake up one day and wonder, what if I had stuck it through? Waited until you found what you deserved. And maybe it would never come, but at least you'd have allowed yourself enough pride not to settle out of fear.


evening drizzle

1.
i was feeling rather mellow,
so i took a nap
to reset my emotions.

but i dreamt you had asked her for a dance
so your name was on my tongue when i awoke
one and a half hours late.

2.
i move between joy and grief
grief and joy

joy in the wine
and grief in the waking

3.
下雨天–南拳妈妈


4.
“Love is a joint experience between two persons–but the fact that it is a joint experience does not mean that it is a similar experience to the two people involved. There are the lover and the beloved, but these two come from different countries. Often the beloved is only a stimulus for all the stored-up love which has lain quiet within the lover for a long time hitherto. And somehow every lover knows this. He feels in his soul that his love is a solitary thing. He comes to know a new, strange loneliness and it is this knowledge which makes him suffer. So there is only one thing for the lover to do. He must house his love within himself as best he can; he must create for himself a whole new inward world - a world intense and strange, complete in himself…

Now, the beloved can also be of any description. The most outlandish people can be the stimulus for love. A man may be a doddering great-grandfather and still love only a strange girl he saw in the streets of Cheehaw one afternoon two decades past. The preacher may love a fallen woman. The beloved may be treacherous, greasy-headed, and given to evil habits. Yes, and the lover may see this as clearly as anyone else - but that does not affect the evolution of his love one whit… Therefore, the value and quality of any love is determined solely by the lover himself It is for this reason that most of us would rather love than be loved. Almost everyone wants to be the lover. And the curt truth is that, in a deep secret way, the state of being loved is intolerable to many. The beloved fears and hates the lover, and with the best of reasons. For the lover is forever trying to strip bare his beloved. The lover craves any possible relation with the beloved, even if this experience can cause him only pain.”

–"The Ballad of the Sad Cafe," Carson McCullers

4.
a considerable silence. the end of a conversation topic. i feel it coming, somewhere in my lungs, somewhere towards the back of my brain, something i want to bring up but shouldn't, it'll only be dismissed. besides, what would i say? something trivial, anything, in place of it.

the train of words resumes where it left off.

5.
evening sun–jon bryant


Feb 11, 2017

redemption

seal up. arms to your chest, guarded. you are a princess. don't prostitute your words; they are jewels; don't give them out any old how. don't use 'love': it means too much. you cheapen it by offering it like a door gift. you don't mean it. what you mean is the blank around the word, utterly empty, like outer space devoid of atmosphere. reach out and seize the word, save it from the vacuum. keep it in a box under lock and key, to be revisited only when one is true. let the Lord cradle it, put your precious in His arms. and you, return to your chamber.

Feb 5, 2017

a violin's screech

"sometimes the devil can seem so close to you, like your very own thoughts"
"what if the devil is right?"

"he's only a liar."


there are demons in me, i think. not literally - that would be too easy. they say things about myself that i don't mean, but that ring true. the demon is me.

i am a fucktard / i wish i could disappear 

this is the start of my descent. my existence is shameful, foolish. and i can't even hide it like others can. if hands could wrap around my face and smother me into unthinking liminality. i don't have the time to drink.

dear Lord Jesus, i am so done

Feb 3, 2017

wild iris

i have three letters stuck on my wall, "HNH", for my baptism name. one of the letters fell off last week. another fell today. all the post-its are becoming unsticky, fluttering to the floor.

if only we could save ourselves, things would be so much easier. we humans need a little breaking to remember.

i heard the snake was baffled by his sin / he shed his scales to find the snake within

i looked away for an instant, and my heart ran itself full again: crush, crush, crush it, until it is a crumpled writhing cockroach on the floor. until it has no more air in itself, until the last shred of hope has expired like a breath.

i am uniquely
suited to praise you. then why
torment me?

a word makes me tremble. a thought makes me cry. i think my current levels of instability warrant me a break but the looming numbers barrel towards me and i must not leave my seat; yet my mind flies away, dives into itself-

you only give it when it doesn't matter. when it mattered you pushed my hand away. remember? i did know, right from the start, what it was not. i was just selfish. the sky is friendly when it has nothing to offer; when an unsearchable, heart-wrenching Glory hides behind it it becomes a dividing and indifferent blue.

is pain
your gift to make me
conscious in my need of you, as though
i must need you to worship you,
or have you abandoned me in favor of the field, the stoic lambs turning
silver in twilight;

late spring passed too soon, gave way to summer, the undeniable glare of glory in your face; but now the little flower is dead, sticky, rank, the petals have dropped off; now it's only a greenish-brown stalk and it sticks out like an awkward growth spurt that came before it was due-

i dread eating, fear the night, lament the long afternoon hours, despise my face. a cog in my machine is missing; i cling on to whatever will keep me functioning; the awkward silences through the day give away the fact that something is broken and i am simply desperate to cling on to whatever will help me survive. any human presence. any thing to do. anything to stop my mind from the songs and the spiral of inward-looking anger.

i worked against me. did i kill it? now, forever? is faith valid when you screw up the plan?


--
i am a dull seed buried in the soil. i must die, die, but somehow he has the mercy to preserve a tiny pocket of air. i curl up in the husk to make space. it sits with me. i open my eyes to darkness, to solid damp weight. i must push against the earth, find the strength for god knows how long, until my head comes to the light heavens.

Jan 23, 2017

song of songs II

This is a song of springtime, of a heart in bloom, of a face kissed by God. The darkness has seen the light, and it flees. The light reigns supreme. The glory of day has come down and shone on me, and it has sent me to proclaim it. Yesterday morning I knelt on the floor and laughed and cried and was late for church. This morning I haven't stopped smiling.

"arise, my love,
and come away;
for now the winter is past,
the flowers appear on the earth,
the time of singing has come..."

Look at what the Lord does to a soul. Look at how the wretch rejoices; look at how the flaccid heart has become full, full, overflowing with the eternal substance. It is a love song, a miracle, heaven touching earth. The beloved is never the same again.

He will restore sevenfold. He has restored. My God, my God, why did I ever doubt. Look at the radiance that flows from his heart. In God there is purpose, there is healing, there is love, and His river will not relent. He knows best. His timing is just right, and we only see it when it is done.

Only God can save. Only God can save. He has saved, and He will. What the devil meant for evil, the Lord has meant for good.

"This song testifies to the divine presence and God's overwhelming effect in the saint's life. Moreover, the poet makes no connection to the anguished songs...the ecstasy of the present moment stands on its own." - F. X. Clooney

Jan 19, 2017

song of songs

there is a song of grief,
of revelation, of awakening to what is true.
it is sung on your bed, curled up. a song of remorse, the child coming back to the Father. it is sung on your knees.
it cannot be learnt. you will know it when it comes.


God, give me a heart of steel,
eyes like eagles, fixed on the sun.
give me feathers,
warm, so i will not fear the loneliness.
i wrap myself with a shawl.

help me find home,
home in your people who share your heart, or help me be okay with empty.
home in the grass, home in solitude, home in my own heart, pour into me.