Monday, December 27, 2010

To See But Dimly

Today Richard at work asked what school I go to. When I told him Providence Christians College, he asked, “So are you like super religious or something?”
 “Well no.”  Then I stopped to think for a moment.
I knew he was taken aback by my quick answer and I was too. I proceeded to explain myself.
 “I don’t really consider myself religious the way people mean religious when they say that word. It’s not a bunch of things you have to do; it’s a worldview, a way of thinking.”
The more I thought about it, I began to realize that this really is true. When I ponder about how God has changed my life, more than anything, he has changed my mind. Actions always are rooted in previous thoughts, and that’s why he always starts with my mind.
Looking at the world through the lenses of Scripture is unnatural for me, but through the Spirit’s transforming me, it is possible.
Just three months ago I worked with these people at Honey Baked and I was quite comfortable with them. Yet I have noticed since my return, that their conversation topics and senses of humor are now quite different from my own.
I find myself looking down on my coworker for her thought processes concerning her boyfriend, and then I realize that not 6 months ago, I would have thought the same. It’s amazing how God molds me when I’m not even paying attention. Suddenly I realize I have changed. I only realized it because corruption sometimes reveals the straight line.
When I was a child, God was God, and Jesus was a man who died for my sins. I knew of sin, but I didn’t quite understand why sin was sin and what it meant that God was God. As I grew older, by God’s grace (and don’t let me forget that it is by grace alone), he has given me eyes to see, even if dimly.
What I feel now is this sudden awareness of the reality of my new mind. It’s been in the process of formation for years and it still is being molded, but only now am I explicitly aware of it.
“Seek God and he will give you the desires of your heart.” The amazing thing is that God changes my desires, giving me a heart after his own by renewing my mind.
I can hardly fathom it!

Thursday, December 23, 2010


Drive home.
Plug in the Christmas lights, unlock the door and walk inside.
The dog is most excited to see you out of everyone. Others disregard your presence. Kiss the dog and talk an octave higher than your normal voice to the dog, then set it down.
Crash on the couch and watch TV for hours, or pull out your lap top and go on Facebook.
Aimless stalk your “friends” profiles.
Watch a half interesting show on cooking. Do anyone of us actually cook?
Fall asleep on the couch.
3am, you wake up, brush your teeth and go to your bed.

Another day you might be on your bed, eyes glued to the ceiling as you drown in the music.
Mouths always shut. Thoughts unrevealed.
Fall asleep.
3 am, you wake up, brush your teeth and return to bed.

Wake up to the dog sniffing and nudging you to let him outside to piss.
Barely open your eyes and float to the door. Let him out. Start the coffee maker. Stare at the drizzling rain while you wait for the coffee to brew.
Drink coffee.
Shower. Make yourself look presentable.
Drive to work- same route, same speed as yesterday. Maybe light a cigarette on the way.
5pm, drive home.
Maybe you should have gone Christmas shopping before driving home. Oh well, the mall is packed full of angry holiday shoppers. Better to avoid that and sit in the cave.
Time to, repeat.

The Violet Dwindles

It’s a shame that most days are silent here in this cave,
But it’s hard to drill through the ice after so many years of relative stillness.
I just hate this rustling of the norm.
When in actuality, this is the norm;
We just don’t relate to it anymore.

Maybe that’s because my colors have blossomed
And their colors seem transparent now.
Foggy, monotonous, drab.
Is that guilt I feel, pinching my heart? Do I insult?
Well, I love them, dearly
Yet I hate the colorless life I’m sucked into in their company.

Because the violet dwindles in the damp cave,
Which is mute and still, but not untroubled.
She can’t survive there without light and wind

To ruffle the norm. 

Monday, December 20, 2010

An Imaginative Old Man

Daniel always has windblown hair. It’s black, kind of stringy and receding in the front and thinning everywhere else.
I remember the first time I saw him. I thought he looked a lot like my Tata. I always saw Tata in my head as a handsome old man. Then when he visited after we found out that he had cancer, I was shocked. He had aged so much and it was like his eyes had sunk in and his hair had been bleached white.
This is the Tata that Daniel reminded me of. I don’t know how old he is. I guess it’s rude of me to even compare him to that Tata.
At first I couldn’t understand anything he said. He has a very strong Korean accent and he often adds extra vowels, like “u” or “o” to the end of words. One time when Karolina and I ate dinner at the All Nations Community Church on Sunday night, he joked about how Japanese and Koreans have the worst American accents. However, the more I talk to him, the more I understand. Before I used to strain my ears and fiercely read his lips in order to understand.
Daniel is inspiring to me in a way. He never grew up, but he's really intelligent.
Whenever I see him, he is reading a new book. Sometimes it’s a history book and other times it’s something on theology. He reads a lot. He is also in the process of learning Russian and Japanese. (He often asks speaks to me in Japanese, since he learned about my heritage. 
The other night I ate dinner with him though and he closed his World Atlas and we started talking about the food. Our conversation evolved into one about animal rights. He is horrified by the way people treat animals, even chickens before they are slaughtered. (We were eating chicken as we spoke)
He loves animals and believes in something called “Theology of Life”. I googled this and found a book on the topic by  Jay B. McDaniels called Of God and Pelicans: A Theology of Reverence for Life. He probably read this.
He doesn’t even kill the ants that raid his room in the summertime! Then he told me about these cockroaches that were living in his house. He didn’t want to kill them, but they started attacking him, so he chased them out. He said to me, wide-eyed, “They never went to school! But they are so wise!” He also said, “Dogs are my friends, and they know that we are friends!” The convicted way in which he said it made me believe him.
When Providence performed A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream, Daniel was the drama association’s biggest fan. For weeks afterward he searched out every person whose name was in the pamphlet. He went to both showings and took pictures. He recently gave me a picture that he had taken of Libby and I after opening night.
Some people think he's a nut, but he inspires me because he lives every day with a child-like fascination. He is always seeking to learn, whether it be from reading or having conversations with people. He is zealously excited about the world. His heart and mind are so connected! His imagination seems to be so incredibly alive; his mind soaks in everything and his heart is passionate for it all. Daniel is really cool.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Lonely Gather Like Sheep These Nights

Water trickles down the stone walls and puddles gather, revealing the uneven ground.
I noticed today the yellow leaves and mossy benches along the sidewalk. 
I noticed also how lonely people gather together like sheep in the cold.

I see what could have been.
A cold tear trickling down my face at times
And I know that if I had stayed in that old town, my home town,
I would have fallen asleep.
Grey hairs sprouting, and wrinkles curving their way into my skin.
It’s a place of death. Of lost friends and dreams that failed.
It’s a place where you always wish you were somewhere else, But coming back somehow is a comfort.
Well, in theory it’s comforting, for a while.

Now the rain is falling harder.
The moon is obscured by fog
And the night is black ink.
My senses only capture a lovely sound tonight, swirling about.
People say rain is when God cries and I say not.
It’s a million angels snapping their fingers, clapping and tap dancing.

These past few nights, hardly any of us have slept adequately,
Yet I never felt closer to any of you.
We were gathered at the hardest time of year, pulling each other along.
I hardly know what it means to be awake anymore.
I hardly know what it means to be alone.
A sleep over, heart to heart talks, good coffee, movies and tears.
A long walk in the falling trees under a dripping foggy sky. 

I trip sometimes on the uneven ground, or slip in the puddles.
Currently, my warmest boots are the most wet.
But let’s take a walk anyway, again,
Because lonely people are here today, gathered like sheep.

The rain slows and my bed starts to feel increasingly like sinking sand.
Eye lids slightly falling…

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

James' Search For the Moon

James went searching for the moon and pointed to a lamp post. 

What of the flowers turned to ghosts?
What of the groping dreams, and starlit nights.
What if the sun never rose in the universe of my soul?

I looked around and we were skeletons with elaborately painted masks
Silver smiles and empty eyes.
We drifted in the barren air, grabbing for every other colour
And our fingers slip like oil every time.
Being a bundle of awkwardly put together bones, and a plastic mask,
I drifted about believing I was beautiful and full.
The darkness was unsettling

When I stared at the black and dampened stars
I sensed warmth, like from the ashes of a fire just put out.
What if the sun never rose?
I’d scrape my bones, nodding, and never know flesh:
the warmth, softness, beauty.
Many a daylight spent and many a dream of you,
But James went searching for the moon,
Did he ever wake at sunrise?

Friday, December 10, 2010

I Want the Right Side of a Child's Brain

This boy thinks the disk he is holding is magical

Maybe I got the wrong message out of this movie, but it did get me thinking about the imagination of children.
Here, Watch it:
Dr. Belz sent it to all the English majors a few weeks ago and he said it made him cry.

Every little kid is an artist and then they grow up and become so anal and systematic that they can't be creative anymore.

I feel like I have lost my creative abilities. I used to always be narrating stories in my head, or thinking about poetry. I used to write all the time. I used to dress up, build forts and become a different person, even if no one played along with me. Even if I didn't even say any of it out loud. Then I grew up and gave up my childish games.

Time is a big issue. With the pile of school work always upon me, I rarely have time to cultivate any of the creative potential I have. I rarely have time to gather my thought.
Patricia getting ready to sing me a song she wrote
(Right now for instance, I really should be sleeping, but 2am is the only time I have to write freely)

Since we are made in God's image, all humans have creative ability. They take after their creator. I just think that people lose it far too often.

Dad used to be a writer, then he made a family and got a full time job. I'm on my way to being just that way.

I have been creative lately in the music department. Yes, I've written songs, attempted to learn piano and I sing or whistle where ever I go. Of course, I am graded for writing music, and graded for how well I sing. This is a motivation.

At the beginning of this semester, Dr. Belz was in the serving line in the cafeteria while I was working. He asked, "Hey, are you going to take my poetry class? You look like the poetic type."
I told him that no, I was not going to because I was taking history that hour. Then I asked him if he wanted vegetables with his entre.
Later, when I interview him for an article I was writing, he asked again, "So are you doing poetry?"
This was getting a little redundant. His cousin Max had asked me if I was taking the class as well.
"No, I have history, remember?"
"No. I mean are you doing poetry. I mean practicing it."
I told him that I think my poetry sucks. He said that most good poets think their poetry sucks, but I have to keep practicing it.

Dja is a dancer, a singer, a comedian and an actress
The video is about a group of New York artists that give Peruvian street children a place to live and a new life. They give the children the gift of expression through art by teaching them in art workshops. They give the children the opportunity to create.

One of the leaders of this ministry said that he wonders how many Einsteins and Platos die in the streets without even being given a chance.

It sounds like amazing work they are doing for these children.

It just really got me thinking about how creative all people are, or can be. Of course we are creative in different ways, but I think it's important to practice creativity as Dr. Belz said. People should seek to discover where they or like to be creative.
I may never be an renowned poet, song writer or singer but I can't just stop there. I don't think God would want me to stop there. Creativity is a gift to the person that brings joy to him and those around him. Most importantly it brings glory to God, the Artist.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Micronesian Island Life

I work with a lot of Micronesians at the William Carey. Most of them do dishes and work for clean up. At the same time, all of them know how to cook and do what the rest of us do.
To be honest, I have always been grossed out by the cleaning job they have to do. The William Carey kitchen is not a tidy place. Compared to Honey Baked Ham, it's a dump. One time a saw a cockroach in the dish room!

However, the clean up crew has always been really friendly to me. Every night after serving every one in the cafeteria their food, the cook yells, "cha cha!" and the dish people come and get their food.

I wondered if cha cha was one of their names, but I wasn't sure. Every day I came into work, the dish people would say, "Hi Marissa!" and I would say Hi back and even have conversations with them sometimes. I felt terrible though, because I didn't know their names.

The other day, I got off work at 7pm and two of them, a guy and a girl invited me to eat dinner with them. Usually I don't have anyone to eat dinner with after I work, because everyone has already finished and left the cafeteria.

I sat down with them, and apologetically asked them what their names are. Lanson and Mercy is what they call themselves.

We ate our chicken and mashed potatoes, and I asked them about their lives. They both were born in the Micronesian islands. They moved to California in 2004.

Micronesia sounds fascinating! Mercy tells me that the men and women there have long thick hair because they wash themselves in cool water. They don't even have heated water there, because it's always pretty warm. She came here and her hair became thin because she washes it with heated water. I never thought of that; I wonder if hot water really does make people lose their hair faster. Men should think about that.

They have water tanks on the islands that fill up when it rains. They will come with their buckets to get water when they need to cook, wash, etc. They eat mostly fish and coconut milk. It's rare for them to drink water. When they need rice, or carosine for the fire, they will row to a bigger island.

Thry don't have electricity. They use carosine lamps for light, and they cook with a fire. When the light goes out, and it's dark, they go to sleep.

There are no cars on the island; they just walk every where. Mercy said that from where I was sitting, I would be able to see the end of the island. They don't need cars in such small areas. When they leave the island, they take canoes. Mercy and Lanson live about 35 minutes from each other traveling by canoe, on different islands.

Mercy told me stories about some Microneasian's first experiences coming to America and flying on a plane. One lady took off her shoes as she was getting on the plane. She did this out of habit because they always take off their shoes before coming in doors. When she got to America, she said that someone stole her shoes, but actually she just left them there. I guess she expected them to be outside the plane where she had left them.

Another lady didn't speak English well at all, and when she went to the baggage claim, she couldn't find her suitcase anywhere. She went to one of the workers and told him, "Someone murdered my suitcase!" He was very confused, until another lady from Micronesia asked her what she meant. She then explained to the worker, "No, she means someone stole her suit case."
Turns out, someone has actually just taken it off the carousel.

I like Mercy; she's sweet and friendly. So is Lanson, he's just a little bit shy.

Both of them miss Micronesia and I can understand why. It must be so sad for them living here, remembering the clear blue water, where they can see the fish swimming underneath their canoes.
Now they live and work in Pasadena in a dim kitchen cleaning dishes for relatively ungrateful people.
It makes me sad for them.
But I guess at least they aren't alone. There are a lot of other Micronesians too. All the security guards are Micronesian and there is the All Nations Community Church, where the pastor and most members are Micronesians.

Sometimes I wish that I could escape this civilized, high maintenance life I live and see what it's like to live like they did. All they had was the basic needs of life. I don't even know what they did for fun, or what they did for work their. I think they moved here because they were poor. The Micronesian pastor from All Nations Church talked about Micronesians being poor. Maybe that's why they had to leave paradise to come to smoggy California and work in a dirty kitchen.
These are all my presumptions. They might not hate it. I just think I would if I were in their position.

Working and capitalism are just becoming strange to me. I would really like to experience a place where you survive on what you catch and grow. You build your own house. You survive on only what you need.

I have this romantic idea of living wild and free.

In reality, that must be scary, but maybe more fulfilling than being so high maintenance like me. Like most of us. I want to move to Micronesia.