what the bleep do we know?

last night i watched “What the Bleep Do We Know?” — an astounding documentary on quantum physics breathing meaning into our fragile yet complex mental space. i was blown away by the idea that our ideas can change the world, and indeed, my world was changed in that moment. it’s a dangerous balance: acknowledging the Maker of thought (God) and yet fully embracing the Power of thought (within us).

this morning i woke up and was worried because Dad brought me my tea and banana instead of Mom. negative thinking perhaps, but based on the reality that Mom has bad mornings. i crept upstairs, to find her sitting in her purple bathrobe (layering a turquoise sweater and a fushia nightgown — one can never be too colourful nor too warm!), and writing notes on her pad of paper. she looked at me with eyes that remind me of the vast sky and smiled her easy smile. on the paper she had written a smattering of thoughts on prayer and perfect vacations.

i was relieved to find her sitting up and writing. a cognitive morning. then i found her socks on the counter-top.bringing them over to her, she said, “you found my socks. you know, i like to wear my socks. they make me feel light on my feet. like i can bop around more easily.”

i threw my head back and laughed, no doubt breaking off the relationship between a neuron and a cell in my brain. this then, is ‘what the bleep i know’: that i love life with my mother. she keeps the blood in my heart pumping and the crows-feet near my eyes growing. she is the catalyst for my morning laughter, and for my fervent nightly prayers.

i am thankful for documentaries on quantum physics. but even more so, i am thankful for a mother who appreciates socks for the mere fact that they let her dance more lightly.

sanctuary

there i was in all of my brokenness staring at a room full of people who knew who they were.

we were seated in downtown toronto, amongst dirty streets and unknown beats people were dancing to their own drums while i sat helplessly by, unsure of the moves. these street people had found a home in Sanctuary, a converted old church dedicated to breathing people back into Christ and art back into faith.

i meet audrey, who loves cats and fish and dogs and paints them at the drop-in. she stands there in her lopsided red cap with her cross-eyed smile and shares with me her love for painting. then there is ken, who paints brilliant abstract pieces with a twisted hand from his perch in his wheelchair. i buy one of ken’s pieces. he smiles so large it splashes colour around the whole room. cathy loves to have her picture taken. she dances while her husband plays the guitar, and i snap pictures. she claps her hands and her blue eyes tell me thank you.

a cracked out crack-head stands up to say thanks over communion. he breaks the bread, takes it, and sits down. i’m dumbfounded. by most churches’ standards, this would be heresy. for him, it is grace.

prostitutes sell their poetry; thieves steal the show with their acting; i sit in a corner and beg God to strip me of my facade.

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fishing

hot sand

sifting (like

seconds in a cylinder)

through my toes

the cicadas’ song

a silkworm’s silhouette

against a sliver of grass

we sit on the slippery bank

slide down to the water’s edge

(slap-slapping against the side)

peer down at our suburnt skin

reflected

slide out the unsuspecting worms

protected by sleep

wakened cruelly by the slice of hook

into flesh

they wriggle into knots

we suspend them from shore

ignore their silent screams

slowly pulling back

releasing

casting into crystal crescents

the worms are baptized

their screams silenced

swallowed up by

the starving sea

the art of eating

She had brought a cake. A thick, sweet cake to commemorate our final meeting.

 

Her black eyes smiled and we rotated our chairs, ready to partake. I flushed, embarrassed to have forgotten the plates and silverware. As the teacher, this was my job. I excused myself, ran to the kitchen, piled plate upon plate on my arms, and walked slowly back. Entering the classroom, I nearly dropped the plates.

 

The cake joined my Korean adult students as the sun does the universe. Laughing and joking in mother tongue, chopsticks clicked together as they brought the sweet fleshy morsels of cake to their mouths. They didn’t need my hard plastic plates. The cake was enough. A sweet communion. I humbly picked up some chopsticks and partook.

 

Korea taught me a lot about the art of eating. Food is a gift, not only to our bodies, but to our souls. Everything is eaten in community. As glasses clink and heads bow, food is served first to the eldest and then down the line of ages. One hand crisscrosses another in the traditional form of respect shown when serving another. An elder’s glass is never to go empty. When drinking, one is not to look one’s elder in the eye. Children are trained in the art of eating from a young age, by grandparents who share the same home as them.

 

The cake is finished, save for a few crumbs. “Gundaye” we toast, lifting our plastic glasses of overly sweet rice wine to our lips. I tuck this memory into my Anorexic heart to take home with me.

 

To take home to Canada. To contrast against my nation’s fast-food hallways and litter-strewn drive-thrus. To pit against the lonely grandparents with their TV dinners and their Price is Right programs. To hold up against the teenager in the bathroom holding back her hair while she regurgitates the ice cream she hungrily consumed in angst. To contrast with the cold aisles full of properly stamped “Blue Menu” items in the grocery store, and the manicured hands that only choose “organic” or “lite” or “free-range” or “low-carb” or “high in Omega 3” without really knowing what any of it means. Only knowing it appeases another worry in an unmanicured life.

 

I will take this memory and treasure the symbolism of food. As a recovering Anorexic, this symbol has breathed new life into me. No longer is food an object to be feared. It is a necessity to be enjoyed and embraced.  It is another form of communication, another way of sharing in this thing called life, of relating with other humans through a means devoid of words. It is the breaking of bread, which Christ calls us to.

 

“Gundaye!”

writer’s block

the more i write, the more i realize the inadequacy of words. (as someone once said, why doesn’t “pig” mean “bubble”? the word “pig” is so light and airy. why are we so rigid in our definitions? why don’t we sometimes rely on pure sounds?)

in addition, the more i write, the greater my frustration becomes at the confines of christianity.

various factors have spotlighted these dissatisfactions.

being hundreds of thousands of miles apart from my husband for months has cheapened verbal or writte language in lieu of a far greater cry our hearts are uttering to the other.

sharing my faith journey with non-believers, i continually get stumped on communication barriers drilled into me by the church such as ‘born again,’ ‘salvation,’ ‘sin’ and ‘righteousness.’ when did we ever assume that creating a separate dictionary for the church would increase its impact upon seekers? (for this reason i thank eugene peterson for ‘the message’).

wanting to write a poem about God yet only being able to come up with cliches from Psalms or from Footprints.

wanting to share the awesomeness of my Creator with someone without using the word ‘awesome.’

wanting to be able to express the feeling of ‘redemption’ without knowing it was ever termed that.

wanting to be ‘lost’ without being able to define it, and to find salvation without knowing what that means.

wanting to know the excruciating affect of sin on God’s heart without reducing the action to ‘sin’ or God’s massiveness to ‘heart.’

wanting to love Christ with all of my heart, soul and mind, rather than just my mouth or my pen.

even the word ‘evangelical’ as a noun is untranslatable into most of the world’s languages. what was it that Jesus said? “go into all the world and preach the gospel”? how can we, if we don’t speak the same language as ‘the world’?

i’ve realized what Tatiana Goricheva, a Russian philosopher, so adequately put despite being forced to limit herself to words:

“for the first time i understood how dangerous it is to talk about God. each word must be a sacrifice — filled to the brim with authenticity. otherwise it is better to keep silent.” (Talking About God is Dangerous)

isaiah

 

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sweet baby boy

blue bundle of joy

 

parcel of love

sent from above

 

we welcome you now

our hearts we do bow

 

to heaven’s front doors

in love we implore

 

upon this dear child

so young, meek and mild

 

pour wisdom and rain

your mercies, ingrain

 

knowledge and truth

his name daily proof

 

of your faithfulness, grace

to earth’s human race

 

bestow daily bread

may he spirit-led

 

live up to the call

forsake one and all

 

for the cross