Lower thoughts, lower ways.

Reliving a Childhood

No matter how fervently he denies it, the memory of him dragging me by the hair along the halls of our elementary school remains clear as day to me. The reason for this act of injustice has already slipped my mind among many other seeds of our hatred towards each other, but not to fret, I still carry with me a handful of well-remembered stories to share to his beloved friends if he ever as much accuse me of being the witch in his epic.

We are better now at being polite when we should, and I sense a growing curiosity that maybe, this brother-sister thing could work now that we’re adults who have been dealt with lessons in all the ways we could enumerate — hard, other times unnecessary, and pretty much because of our own doing.

A sibling is a sibling is a sibling. If you grew up together, you would know them as much as they know themselves, maybe even better, so that you can straightforwardly call them out on their foolishness, something you may have observed since the day you saw them break your favorite toy. Other times you don’t need to say a word, because a look in the eye could make you both forget what you learned in Sunday school about Jesus’ instruction to turn the other cheek.

Recently, he called me the “never-wrong woman”. I admit, I have difficulty owning up to my mistakes especially to people I want to influence. A few seconds of reflection led me to think that maybe that’s the message I have been sending through every failure and denial in the past — I know the dishes were not washed properly nor was the food cooked well, and oops that was your chocolate bar in the fridge?? I was sooo hungry, but I want you to listen and separate the chaff from the grain. Tell me I’m wrong, tell I’m prideful, let me learn again and again. Maybe the hair dragging in elementary isn’t really true after all. Or maybe it was, I just subconsciously left out the part where I was supposed to be nice and not fuel your anger.

I do remember a few good stories where I was not exactly a witch and where we were just ordinary kids who wanted candy more than being our own heroes.

Our dearest Auntie Fe, who is used to dealing with traditional Chinese families, lived with us growing up. She saw to it that we memorized our notebooks word per word, because according to her, this made Chinese students intelligent. I did not want to remember my notes in verbatim fashion, so I took a few, just enough to make it look like I was not cheating myself. He, on the other hand, impressed Auntie Fe for the speed and accuracy at which he memorized dates, places and people. He would diligently fill his notebooks in class and brim with pride as Auntie Fe declared the study session a success. He got candy afterwards, and in the long term, his stint in law school.

A lot of things have happened in between the 2-year-old girl pretending to be happy at her brother’s birth* and the 22-year-old millennial finding herself extremely proud for his national award as a top university student, and yet a lot of things remain to be true. We’re still hoping for even more candy. We still can’t keep the house squeaky clean. There are times when we both just want to drag each other by the hair.

My brother and I, we take turns being Martha, forgetting what’s important and missing out on the real stuff. We also take turns being Mary, just listening and watching, finally learning that all we need to do is stay awhile. And when it’s turn for us to tell a story, we can choose to become Magdalene and spread good news, well unless they ask us if we had a great childhood. I would say yes, and tell them of that afternoon we broke the built-in mirror of our parents’ wardrobe because there was a big bag of chips inside.

*Ask our mother.


The Ghost and the Empty Tomb

If your past continues to haunt you, then be comforted that it is already a ghost — long dead. It can’t hurt you, but it will make you cripple in fear if you let it. The ghost will try to lead you, as it always has, and bring you back to the grave of your past foibles and sins, a place you have once tried to adorn with flowers and fill with candles. There could have been times when you stormed the place with a shovel, not quite sure whether you will bury something or unearth it.

Maybe now you will have the strength to say ‘no’ to the ghost, and invite it to tea instead. Welcome it with open arms, befriend it, understand that it will forever remain in the small, dark corner at the back of your mind. However, remember what your math teachers always told you back then, and what Alexander Pope echoed, “Tis but a part we see, and not the whole.”

Your past is not who you are. The thorn in your flesh is not you. Over tea and what’s left of your bread, ever gently tell the ghost that you have your present demons to face, and that it is not in your schedule to open wounds that have started to heal. Tell it that yes, you will every now and again be tempted to follow it into the coldest of night, but that once you’re freezing and overwhelmed by the thought of the sorry being that you are, you will remember that you have brought with you a pocketful of dreams and the warmth of the promises of God and some more bread to last you the way back.

Warn the ghost that you will have to abandon it, not just once, but a hundred times, and as many times return to the present and closer to the future, away from the grave and nearer the empty tomb where the stone was rolled away. There, you will repeatedly wonder where the body went, who could have taken it, and why it was of any interest to anyone. You will bite off a piece of your bread, chew it with diligence, and sigh.

Any minute now He will show up. He always does. Do not be frightened. Do not be startled at the sight of what seems to be another ghost.

Look at His hands and feet. Touch Him and see. He is real, you will tell yourself. More real than anything you have ever placed your hands on. Then, you will be wondering how you were able to find the strength to let your past go and why you are still living and breathing despite the many times you felt you have been buried, by yourselfwith your own shovel, by others with their threats and accusations, by this world with its brokenness.

This man, He will tell you, “I am your ‘how’. I am your ‘why’.” He will tirelessly repeat this over the course of this life you have cursed and blessed. You will forget His words, but you will also remember. It doesn’t matter now, the truth will never change.

You have been a witness of the empty tomb countless times already — now, declare again, all your ghosts are gone, what remains is Christ. Invite Him for dinner. Open your cupboard and give Him a piece of broiled fish on the best plate you could afford, a feast which you did not offer the former ghost because you felt that this was meant for something and Someone so much more special.

Happy Easter, folks. 🙂


Filed: Eartha Kitt on Love and Compromise

“A relationship is a relationship that has to be earned! Not to compromise for… And I love relationships, I think they’re fantastic,they’re wonderful, I think they’re great. I think there’s nothing in the world more beautiful than falling in love. But falling in love for the right reasons. Falling in love for the right purpose.”

The way Mother Eartha expresses herself is so lovely!