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life lived differently

I first came across the poem ‘Invictus’ when I watched the film of the same title. I thought it was a very powerful poem though I didn’t agree with its humanistic tone – the invincible spirit and strength of man.

Invictus

Out of the night that covers me,

Black as the Pit from pole to pole,

I thank whatever gods may be

For my unconquerable soul.

 

In the fell clutch of circumstance

I have not winced nor cried aloud.

Under the bludgeonings of chance

My head is bloody, but unbowed.

 

Beyond this place of wrath and tears

Looms but the Horror of the shade,

And yet the menace of the years

Finds and shall find me unafraid.

 

It matters not how strait the gate,

How charged with punishments the scroll,

I am the master of my fate;

I am the captain of my soul.

(William Ernest Henley)

Then I learned there was actually a poem written as a counter-response to ‘Invictus’ from my current reading – ‘The Grace Awakening’ by Charles R. Swindoll.

My Captain

Bright as the light that dazzles me,

Bright as the sun from pole to pole,

I thank the God I know to be

For Christ the conqueror of my soul.

 

Since His the sway of circumstance,

I would not wince nor cry aloud.

Under that rule which men call chance

My head with joy is humbly bowed.

 

Beyond this place of sin and tears

That life with Him! And His the aid,

Despite the menace of the years,

Keeps, and shall keep me, unafraid.

 

I have no fear, though strait the gate,

He cleared from punishment the scroll.

Christ is the master of my fate,

Christ is the captain of my soul.

(Dorothea Dea)

Life, indeed, can be lived differently depending on who or what I put my trust in, isn’t it?

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I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day…

I first heard this song on Casting Crowns’ Christmas album which I bought recently and did a little research on this lesser known carol. It was actually based on a poem with the same title by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. When the poem was written in 1864, America was then in a civil war. Thus, his poem reflected the prior years of the war’s despair, yet ended with his confident hope of triumphant peace.

Fast forward to 2008, and our world is none the better. Terrorism and threats of terrorism are looming everywhere. Economic crises are happening across the world almost on a daily basis. Peace on earth seems more like a fairytale than an eventual reality. It is so easy for us to lose hope and question where is God in all this chaos. Yet, we must remind ourself just like the poet did, that surely God is not dead nor does he sleep.

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till, ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said:
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

P/S: Our hearts are saddened as we received the much-dreaded news this morning that a dear pastor had gone home to be with the Lord after being taken ill suddenly 2.5 weeks ago. If you know the family, would you say a prayer for them right now?

welcome spring…

road less traveled…

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth

Then took the other as just as fair
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear
Though as for that, the passing there
Had worn them really about the same

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet, knowing how way leads onto way
I doubted if I should ever come back

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence
Two roads diverged in a wood
And I took the one less traveled by
And that has made all the difference

Robert Frost

Blessed 21st, Pris…

love is in the air…

To YOU, who are blissfully married – Let not the cynic tell you passion will soon give way to commitment alone. You can have both.

To YOU, who are dating – The courtship is a prelude of better things to come. Be patient.

To YOU, who are seeking – It is worth the search and the wait.

XVII (I do not love you…) by Pablo Neruda

I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way

than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.

P/S: In case you are wondering, we don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day. Somehow it just seemed meaningless to us that we have to wait for that ONE day in the year to declare undying love and affection for each other. However, it is a yearly tradition for us to meet up with some friends over dinner and drinks as a celebration of our friendship. Chris & Lotus: Next Valentine’s Day perhaps? Till we meet again, have a drink on us.

Our Prayer for You in 2008

May you find serenity and tranquility
in a world you may not always understand.

May the pain you have known
and the conflict
you have experienced
give you the strength to walk through life
facing each new situation with courage and optimism.

Always know that there are those
whose love and understanding will always be there,
even when you feel most alone.

May a kind word,
a reassuring touch,
and a warm smile
be yours every day of your life,
and may you give these gifts
as well as receive them.

May the teachings of those you admire
become part of you,
so that you may call upon them.

Remember, those whose lives you have touched
and who have touched yours
are always a part of you,
even if the encounters were less than you would have wished.
It is the content of the encounter
that is more important than its form.

May you not become too concerned with material matters,
but instead place immeasurable value
on the goodness in your heart.
Find time in each day to see beauty and love
in the world around you.

Realize that what you feel you lack in one regard
you may be more than compensated for in another.
What you feel you lack in the present
may become one of your strengths in the future.
May you see your future as one filled with promise and possibility.
Learn to view everything as a worthwhile experience.

May you find enough inner strength
to determine your own worth by yourself,
and not be dependent
on another’s judgment of your accomplishments.

May you always feel loved.

– Sandra Sturtz Hauss –

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