I was recently taught to pray in step as I walk. But I hate walking. Not because I am lazy but because I don't walk well. There is this in-born thing I have that makes it hard to walk properly.
During my silent retreat, we were introduced the Walking Prayer - at least that is what I think it is called. It is as simple as you pray in beat as you walk in your own natural rhythm. This has been helpful to me because all along, I pay attention to the way I walk when I walk, reminding myself to be careful and to walk properly, but now I am taking it in a prayerful manner whenever I can. I say my thanksgiving as I walk, thankful that I am still walking, that I can still get to places, even though not with ease as an ordinary person, but at least I can still go where I want to, for now, and I am thankful.
I was recommended The Pillars of the Earth by a colleague at work. It was quite a good read except for the more graphic portions that I thought it would be better without. We were chatting about books we read and she began to tell me the story of this book she had read not too long ago. She brought the book to work and I began reading how Follett came to study research on the building of cathedrals and the subsequent writing of this book many years later. His own story of his writing captivated me and I went to Borders and got a copy of it for myself. It is a story that spans 30-40 years in the 12th century involving several major characters beginning with the story of Tom Builder whose dream was to become a master builder of a cathedral.
I finished reading the book in 4 days. I was practically buried in it. I also bought a copy of its sequel, World Without End, but it was at that point of time that I got to know about Kobo e-books and began searching for another good novel on cathedrals in a similar period of time.
Cathedral of the Sea by Ildefonso Falcones
I googled it and found this title: Cathedral of the Sea.
I just finished reading this book a moment ago, which is almost 800 pages long in print form. I started reading it in e-book format on May 12. It took me 16 days to finish it. I was enjoying it so much I decided to take my time and it is not bad considering that I also completed another e-book, non-fiction within that period of time: Introvert Power by Laurie Helgoe.
I prefer Cathedral of the Sea to The Pillars of the Earth. The story was more intact around the same few people giving them a fuller and rounder character in the book. Whilst Follett had to introduce newer characters to draw the story to a close, Falcones accomplished it more satisfactorily. His story is about a young man, Arnau Estanyol, who began working as a bastaix or stone carrier for the building of cathedral. Bastaixos were respected people - carrying big boulders of stones is hard work and without them, cathedrals can never be built.
I love the characters Falcones carved out in this book. And he writes well, with the skill of the interpreter as well, as the book is originally published in Spanish. I did feel like I was transported to its 14th century scenes of intrigue and relationships.
It has been awhile since I have read a good novel, and having read two in a month is good for me. I had enjoyed it tremendously. I am searching now for my next read, and if possible, more medieval times stories.
We may laugh at this but this was a reality for me today. ESTJs are generally good people but if they do not realize the effect they have on other people and if they do not use their positives well and instead let their negatives overpower their words and actions, there will be a lot unhappiness, including the ESTJ.
If you are an ESTJ, I suggest you read and digest this. I find this website one the best in helping us grow and develop by pointing out our strengths and weaknesses.
I read in The Star today about a father who forgot his daughter and left her sleeping in the car. She died of a heatstroke.
On googling for the news article to be linked here, I was surprised to read of another similar case in Italy that happened just three days ago. This father forgot to drop off his daughter to a day care center and left her in the car in the heat, for five hours. She was declared brain dead three days later. And the irony was that the Italian mom said what happened to the father could happen to anyone, and it did, three days later.
I could not take this out of my mind. I just can't.
Someone warned me once of being addicted to seminars and conferences, especially those with a lot of hype going on about them. I am wondering if the same can be said about Christian retreats and conferences. Can we get so addicted to such events, to induce such euphoria so as to keep us on the high all the time?
I just returned from a great time spent in a silent retreat and finding it hard to return to normalcy, and I am already making plans to sign up for the next silent retreat. Am I going for the high?
I am going to say yes and no. Yes in the sense that any good experiences with God will bring you to a high, the good kind. This is because of his wondrous and gracious being, and him being a well-spring of perfect and eternal joy. How not to be on a high after a prolonged time in the joyous presence of a loving God?
But it is a no in the sense that it is not an empty happiness. Any real experiences with God will bring about the fruits of the Spirit; it should, it must. We are expected to grow more mature in him and bear much fruits. Going to retreats and conferences will be pointless if we have not changed, if we have not grown closer in relationship with God. And that is the determinant whether we are just going for the high or going for the change.
I concluded my silent retreat today and God is so amazing. I shared how He revealed Himself to me yesterday through a dragonfly and rolling thunder. It is in this retreat that I desired to find God again. He has personally and deliberately shown Himself to me. It was not as if certain things in nature "spoke" to me with a lesson. The dragonfly literally flew into my face and the thunder rolled with exact timing. No one can do this except God.
So as I close my time with God in this silent retreat, I was seated by the pool taking in the day. The dragonfly came by and I was delighted. I took it as God affirming His presence to me, that He is with me and He is for real. I thanked Him and asked Him, "Thunder, too?"
But the sun was up and it was a hot day. I smiled and did not think further about it as it was time for the closing session. We gathered together for faith sharing. Sister Francisca requested each of us to share one thing that we experienced in the retreat as worship to give glory to God. I do not like to share that much, I rather not talk and so I told myself, "Nah, I am not going to share or say much."
Well, at that very moment, thunder rolled. No kidding! It is simply amazing. The sun was still up and thunder was rolling. "Ok, ok, I will share then."
I was the second last to share and it was at least 20 minutes before my turn came and would you believe that the thunder was still rolling? God gave me special effects even as I shared His wondrous glory to my fellow participants. Sorry to have to use that word again, but isn't it amazing.
I used to sing the song, "My God is real, real in my soul; my God is real for He has washed and made me whole; His love for me is like pure gold; my God is real for I can feel Him in my soul," and still didn't quite feel it. I not only feel it now, I know it with my being, with my soul.
I am now at a Silent Retreat, which started yesterday evening. I got caught in the KL Friday traffic jam that was made worse by rain. I arrived at the retreat place which is situated in a forest reserve. I was late but I arrived safe and sound despite getting lost a couple of times.
I was on a silent retreat last year and only upon signing up for this one that I realized that my last one was almost exactly a year ago. This would mean that I will be making a yearly getaway round about the same time every year. God willing.
The day passed by pretty quickly today and the experiences that I had were wonderful, they were amazing. What I have gone through today was like a year's worth of spiritual experiences. Yea, I may be exaggerating but that is how I feel right now. The experiences I had with God is simply amazing and I thank Him for it.
This round of silent retreat is entitled Prayerways, conducted by a Cenacle sister, Sister Francisca. When I signed up for this two weeks ago, the topic of the retreat did not really matter to me. I just wanted to get away and spend time to find myself and to find God. But the fact that the silent retreat is a prayer-related one is not by chance. I am learning so much and connecting with God and with myself in so many ways it will take me quite awhile to review and to take it all in again.
As mentioned, the reason why I got away is to find God again, to be in His presence and to dwell in Him and He in me. I felt that God was quite faraway lately, in my busyness, my mounting responsibilities and piles of work. And I did, I encountered him in so many ways. And two of them were just brilliant. Let me share them with you.
Since the silent retreat is being carried out in a forest reserve, it is natural that Sister Francisca got us to pray to God through His creation. I thought to myself, "I am not really a creation person. Creation do not speak to me like it does others. But I do love the sound of it." And I decided to pray through the sound of creation rather than sight. Right after I told myself that, a dragonfly practically flew into my face. It gave me a fright. And then I laughed. I was sure it was God who put it right at my face, literally, and asked me, "Why not My creation?" My response was, "Okay, Lord, Your creation, which is indeed marvelous. Who am I to say no? Let it speak Your wonders to me."
The LORD has spoken.
Then later in the evening, I was walking along a small hill and I stole some moments to softly sing Him a song, in spite of the fact that it is after all a silent retreat and I am intending to keep it that way. But I wanted so much to sing. The song that I found most appropriate is one of Grace Notes' - The Symphony of Praise by Steve Green. It is appropriate because I am right here in the very heart of nature and God's creation. And so I sang...very, very softly:
The composer and conductor of the universe Steps before the orchestra of God Creation lifts their finely crafted instruments As all in heaven wildly applaud
The seasons well rehearsed begin with his downbeat And on his cue the sun trumpets the dawn The whirling wind swell in the mighty crescendo With each commanding sweep of his baton The oceans pounds the shore in march to his cadence The galaxies all revolve in cosmic rhyme The fall of raindrops all in wild syncopation As lighting strikes and thunder claps in time...
And it was at this very moment that thunder actually sounded. It did and it rolled. And I stopped singing. I had goosebumps. Seriously, this cannot be a coincidence - no way. And silly ol' me, questioning about the presence of God and always asking where He is, is utterly speechless now.
The LORD has spoken. Here I am, Lord. Speak, Lord, for your servant hears.
People that we meet and cross path with Some we gonna miss Some we wish we never did But all in all Our lives are made much richer By the people we encounter I would usually though Rather be on my own Things are much simpler Not having to hinder Life is more at peace
But I will be much poorer Had I not known Had I not met These lovely people And I will be much sadder Had I not befriended Had I not encountered Though they are few They are dear They are special In my heart, in my soul
I have gone back to pen and paper journalling and that was something I never expect to happen. After all, I'm quite a gadgeteer.
I started to keep diaries when I was still schooling but gave up as I cannot keep up with daily journalling. I have only gone back into journalling several years ago with the advent of PDAs and then the more sophisticated mobile phones, starting with my Palm V, Palm IIIc, Palm Zire, then the Nokia 8310 and the Sony Ericsson W580i (I missed that phone, I lost it). I soon changed my phone to the iPhone 3G and the iPhone 4. There were great apps available for use but I still find it hard to write with buttons and touch screens. My journal entries are usually short and for whatever reasons, I felt uninspired to write. I seem to sound the same every day, every entry. So finally, I decided to try going back to paper and pen.
I went to the bookstore hoping to get myself a nice diary to write on. I was reading Laurie Helgoe - it was Helgoe who inspired me to get back to journalling - and she wrote about letting the journal choose you, like Harry Potter and his wand in Ollivander's. I thought that was quite brilliant. Well, it obviously did not happen like in the book or the movie but I did have the journal "choose" me. I checked out several but soon held on to a red leather organizer/diary and I felt that I owned it. And so it is.
So I started journalling in pen and paper but to my dismay it did not feel natural. I felt like I have lost touch in writing. My writing looked horrible, I thought faster than I could pen it down and I kept missing words. However, I did not stop and thankfully after a few days, it all came back to me.
I am now really cherishing the time and experience of writing, of journalling. It still irks me for not being able to "delete" or "backspace" or make neat changes but I am finally journalling again.
I have been hunting around for interesting books in Kobo when I found this. I started reading it but have not reached the good parts yet. The author has promised ways and tools and even scripts to be used to handle and to tackle bullying.
He says, "In this book, I'l teach you my 'Bullyproofing Prescription,' a set of instructions for adults to use with kids to get them out of bullying situations and keep them out of bullying situations. These aren't goofy comeback lines, and we won't get into too much theoretical discussion about the bully's sad home life or the state of society. What you need are practical answers to help your child right now, and I will provide them. You're going to learn how to get your child to open up to you; how to teach your child resilience; what the most important factor is in repelling bullies; how to approach a teacher, principal, coach, or camp director with your concerns; how to track a cyberbully; how to help without taking over; what to say when it seems no one's listening; and more. We'll do all this with sample scripts and exercises, written policies you can show to authority figures, and checklists to help you follow each step."
I have very high hopes on this book and I do hope he delivers. I shall see.
I have written sometime ago on Printed Books vs. e-Books and which would you prefer. I wrote that piece last year in July and commented that I would just get e-commentaries and printed books of those I want to read cover to cover.
But in just less than a year, things have changed. I was investigating how I could buy e-books, and found out that you could only do so if you are in the US or UK (at least) as most of the e-books are not available internationally. I am not sure if it is so for Kindle but for the iPhone, they are not until I was introduced to Kobo. In just over a week since I have downloaded the app, I have finished reading one book, halfway through another and just purchased another one that I can't wait to get into.
And it is great feeling that I am back to reading and thinking and mulling again, and hopefully writing too.
I was reading some articles this morning when I happened upon an excerpt of an article with a parable that goes this way:
A man was leaning over the rail of a ship sailing a stormy sea. The ship's doctor came along with the cheerful greeting, "Don't worry; nobody ever died of seasickness!" To which the suffering wretch heaved back a weary reply: "Don't say that, Doc; only the hope of dying is keeping me alive."*
I went, "Whoa! What was that?"
The hope of dying keeps us alive?
As I thought of about it, it began to make sense. We do not live and live forever in this world, but sometimes we live as if we have the elixir of life to just go on and on living as if there is no end. (I am of course not referring to the eternal life in Christ but to our physical life on earth.)
It is because of this hope that we die that we live. I am not sure if you get that because I have to repeat that a few times and strain my mind each time to realise how truthful it is. It is because of the hope of dying that we live.