The Sixth Day of Christmas: Ending with Beginnings

We're going to a wedding tonight, and I really can't think of a better to end this year. I ended both of my semesters with weddings. It felt so fitting to end with a beginning because no end points merely to the past, an end also looks towards the future.

It's been a good year, hard in so many ways, beautiful in more. Tonight will be a celebration of God's faithfulness: to our friends getting married, and also to His bride, the church.

Merry sixth day of Christmas, friends! Here's some T.S. Eliot to end the year and look forward to the next.

(excerpts from East Coker)

In my beginning is my end. Now the light falls
Across the open field, leaving he deep lane
Shuttered with branches, dark in the afternoon.
On a summer midnight, you can hear the music
Of the weak pipe and the little drum
And see them dancing around the bonfire
The association of man and woman
In daunsinge, signifying matrimonie --
A dignified and commodiois sacrament,
Two and two, necessarye conjunction,
Holding eche other by the hand or the arm
Whiche betonketh concorde. Round and round the fire
Leaping through the flames, or joined in circles,
Rustically solemn or in rustic laughter
Lifting heavy feet in clumsy shoes,
Earth feet, loam feet, lifted in country mirth
Mirth of those long since under the eart
Nursing the corn. Keeping time,
Keeping the rhythm in their dancing
As in their living in the living seasons
The time of the seasons and the constellations
The time of milking and the time of harvest
The time of the coupling of man and woman
And that of beasts. Feat rising and falling.
Eating and drinking. Dung and death.

Dawn points and another day
Prepares for heat and silence. Out at sea the dawn wind
Wrinkles and slides. I am here
Or there, or elsewhere. In my beginning.




holding us in the brokenness that defines our lives
filtering through the curtains
filling the empty rooms
sending out invisible bonds
tying us together
though we refuse to look at each other



The Fourth Day of Christmas: Christmas in Real-Time

This morning everything seemed to fall apart. There are so many blessings about being part of a big family - but sometimes, all it means is that there are eight different sinners all living under the same roof. Explosions are bound to happen. And that's exactly what happened this morning.

A couple hours into the mess, I went into the living and saw the line-up of Christmas cards on our wall. "Merry Christmas!" The happy smiles seemed to mock the turmoil we faced. Why did this have to happen on a day of Christmas? Everything was going so well. Then I realized what a silly question that was. Christmas is a celebration of the Incarnation of our Lord, and He came to earth precisely because of these awful, broken mornings. He didn't come because we stood around a table, smiling and loving each other. He came because we yell at each other and because we slam doors.

Christmas is a season to remember this beautiful truth. This truth is embedded in every minute of our lives, not just in the happy, beautiful moments. In fact, it is only because of this truth that we can have those moments of grace.

This evening, everything is peaceful. We're reconciled and healing together.

Merry fourth day of Christmas. May we realize how deeply embedded Christmas is in our every day fractured lives filled with grace.


"Innumerable and boundless substances of the Earth"

Innumerable and boundless substances of the Earth:
Scent of thyme, hue of fir, white frost, dances of cranes.
And everything simultaneous. And probably eternal.
Unseen, unheard, yet it was.
Unexpressed by strings or tongues, yet it will be.

(From Amazement by Czeslow Milosz)


Second day of Christmas

Poetry and sunshine filled my day. I stayed outside as long as I could, reading aloud and painting bright splotches of color on half-white pieces of paper. All my siblings came out and joined me, at some time or another.

That evening, the four of us older kids gathered in the living room. Two of us read books on one couch, while the other two sat on the other couch with their computers. We stopped what we were doing every ten minutes or so to laugh or talk about the randomest subjects. My sister leaves for UCSB in a week or so. We'll miss her.


First day of Christmas

We all came together at my grandmother's house. There's a beautiful simplicity to family gathering: we come, we eat, we talk, we laugh, then we leave. This Christmas, all (except one) of my mom's siblings came together for the first time in awhile. My grandma keeps on getting weaker and weaker, and we all know it and are cherishing the time that we have with her. At one point in the evening, all the girls were sitting around the table with my grandma. I don't remember what we were talking about, but suddenly we heard a huge roar from the living room, where all the guys were watching a basketball (football?) game. And all of us laughed, the type of shared laughter that keeps on going and going until we're all out of breath. I saw the same smile on the faces of my Grandma, my mom, and all her sisters and the same laughter in all of our eyes. It was beautiful.

On the way home, I sat in the far back of my aunt's car and read by the light of passing light posts on the freeway.


Beautiful Things

There's something beautiful about baking and listening to this. Something about the flour mess on the wood table, the used wrappers of butter, and half-opened bag of sugar. And somehow this strange conglomeration of ingredients, thrown into an old, beige oven, creates a fresh, warm loaf of bread.

I love the reminder of being dust, like the flour on the table. And yet, and still, there's beauty.


December Light



(All of these pictures are stills from one of my video-art projects.)


For her birthday

Daddy asked us to make Mom a delicious dinner as her gift. So, at 3:30 pm, my sisters and I sent her off shopping for a couple hours and began planning the menu.

All three of us love to cook, but this was our first attempt at combining forces and making a gourmet meal. The oven stayed on throughout the whole evening, hovering between 275 and 400 degrees. We used almost every pot, pan, and skillet in the house. And lots and lots and lots of butter.

After three and a half hours in the kitchen, we served the meal: Sweet Pea Crostini, Tuscan Stuffed Mushrooms, Sherry-based Cream Crab Dip, Scalloped Sun-Dried Tomato Rigatoni, Marsala Spicy Shrimp, Lemon Butter Asparagus, and Garlic Butter Lobster Tail.

It was a culinary triumph.

All of us kids dressed up, set candles on the table, and had Mom close her eyes until she sat down. She laughed and screamed and smiled when she opened her eyes. It was perfect. As she tried each new appetizer and dish, she would stop, close her eyes, and chew in silence for a few seconds. Those few seconds of contented silence made us all ridiculously happy.

We watched a movie later on, and when it finished, we just stayed together in the backroom. I fell asleep listening to Mom help my sister plan her upcoming summer trip to Europe. Mom would reminisce about her college trips to Europe and the many adventures she had, then give a piece of advice, then tell Jazz yet another wonderful story. The best way to end the evening.


The Fourth Sunday of Advent

It is not yet Christmas. But is also the great final Advent, the final coming of Christ. Through all the Advents of our life that we celebrate goes the longing for the final Advent, where it says: "Behold, I make all things new" (Rev. 21:5). Advent is a time of waiting.Our whole life, however, is Advent - that is, a time of waiting for the ultimate, for the time when there will be a heaven and a new earth, when all people are brothers and sisters and one rejoices in the words of the angels: "On earth peace to those on whom God's favor rests." Learn to wait, because He has promised to come. "I stand at the door..." We however call to him: "Yes, come soon, Lord Jesus!" Amen.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Coming of Jesus in Our Midst, from Waiting for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas




in a darkness
in a silence that is You
in a broken, flawed existence
that's still yearning for the truth

these long and endless nights
filled with cold and flickering flame
of the candles, sitting by my desk
that help me bear the pain

for the light
for the words still yet to come
for the hope that has been promised
for the stem of Jesse's rod



The second best thing...

to actually watching The Tree of Life is listening to it from two rooms over. This movie has one of the most beautiful soundtracks ever.


First Sunday of Advent


For we are fallen like the trees, our peace
Broken, and so we must
Love where we cannot trust, and
Trust where we cannot know
And must await the wayward-coming grace
That joins both the living and the dead,
Taking us where we would not go–
Into the boundless dark.
When what was made has been unmade
The Maker comes to His work.

(Wendell Berry, A Timbered Choir: The Sabbath Poems 1979-1999)

There's something about the boundless dark of the Advent season. It's not a dark that will stay, "for the darkness shall be light, and the stillness the dancing" (TS Eliot). But it's not light yet.

And so we wait. Come, Lord Jesus.


Splashes of Color





"We will have nothing less than heaven."

"My prayer for all of you is that you prefer nothing else to Christ, that your hope of glory continually be Christ and Him crucified, and that you may daily take up your crosses, made lighter by the Word who carried the heavy load of our sins, and follow Him wheresoever he goes. I have no "warm fuzzies" to give you. I only have a cross, and the Eternal Word made flesh who was nailed to it. May you see in that a source of strength for the tough road we must all face, and may it inform your moments of joy and you moments of sorrow. Yes, it is ok to be sorrowful, but with this caveat: never give way to despair. There are sorrowful moments in life, and the proper response is sorrow. But when we sorrow, we sorrow not as the pagans do, without hope, but as people of faith, formed in hope, and with charity as our end. We will have nothing less than heaven."

I woke up to find this in my inbox. My Torrey mentor, the wonderful Dr. Llizo, sent this to all of his mentees.

Exactly what I needed to read today.


When words fail...

looking around and finding light helps.


It'll Pass

It'll pass, it'll pass
So, I say to myself and know it is true
But the truth doesn't help
You help and light helps and shadows that sway
And all those words I think and keep locked away
Till they splutter and fade
Like candles in the dark
And all that remains
Are small pieces of heart.


"For us, there is only the trying"

So here I am, in the middle way, having had twenty years—
Trying to use words, and every attempt
Is a wholly new start, and a different kind of failure
Because one has only learnt to get the better of words
For the thing one no longer has to say, or the way in which
One is no longer disposed to say it. And so each venture
Is a new beginning, a raid on the inarticulate
With shabby equipment always deteriorating
In the general mess of imprecision of feeling,
Undisciplined squads of emotion. And what there is to conquer
By strength and submission, has already been discovered
Once or twice, or several times, by men whom one cannot hope
To emulate—but there is no competition—
There is only the fight to recover what has been lost
And found and lost again and again: and now, under conditions
That seem unpropitious. But perhaps neither gain nor loss.
For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.

Home is where one starts from. As we grow older
The world becomes stranger, the pattern more complicated
Of dead and living. Not the intense moment
Isolated, with no before and after,
But a lifetime burning in every moment
And not the lifetime of one man only
But of old stones that cannot be deciphered.
There is a time for the evening under starlight,
A time for the evening under lamplight
(The evening with the photograph album).
Love is most nearly itself
When here and now cease to matter.
Old men ought to be explorers
Here or there does not matter
We must be still and still moving
Into another intensity
For a further union, a deeper communion
Through the dark cold and the empty desolation,
The wave cry, the wind cry, the vast waters
Of the petrel and the porpoise. In my end is my beginning.

(TS Eliot - Four Quartets: East Coker)


I turned twenty today. And because school doesn't stop for birthdays, I woke up promptly at 6:30 am and didn't return home until 10. The day was both long and weary, but there were surprising moments of joy and pure beauty.

Sometime around 1, I was utterly exhausted, both physically and emotionally. I felt weak and lost. So, I went to the olive grove. It's quiet, removed from the busy-ness of classrooms and dorms. And green (for the most part). I sat there and forgot time for a bit. The light sifted through the trees, and the wind made me feel alive.

I know this isn't new to anyone who has read my blog - this cycle of pain, exhaustion, and then coming to rest in peace and even joy. It's not new to me, but something I have to continually learn and relearn. I'm realizing today how much gratitude plays a part in being alive, in banishing the weariness and apathy. I love that the words grace and gratitude have the same root. Gratitude is a way of seeing the beautiful grace that is all around us.

So I sat there in the olive grove, and decided to be part of the "trying" that Eliot talks about. I made lists of 20s in my journal: 20 people I love, 20 places that feel like home, 20 beautiful memories, 20 conversations that have changed me, 20 shades of blue. And with each list, I gained a deeper love for this strange and unusual place called earth.

Earlier, a friend had asked me if I was happy, and that was a hard question to answer honestly. But after that time of seeing and listing beauty, I honestly could say I was happy. Not in a bouncy sense, but in a grounded happiness that comes from seeing and experiencing grace and beauty.

There is a crushing joy that crackles in every corner of this world. I am tiny and yet I am here. I have been given sense, awareness, existence, and placed on a stage so crowded with the vast, so teeming with the tiny, that I can do nothing but laugh, and sometimes laugh and cry.

Living makes dying worth it.

(ND Wilson, Notes from a Tilt-A-Whirl)


Portraits, II

She has a gentle strength that amazes me.



some days are just simple
bread and butter, please
all this growing, being, who we are
and the moments in between


St. Crispin's Day

The weather seems perfectly fitted for the day. It seems as if Southern California has finally decided that autumn just may stick around for a bit. The clouds keep on rolling in. I love the way the cold, grey light falls over the piles of books and papers I have on my desk.

It's paper-week for us students at Torrey. And although this song really is perfect for anytime, its triumphant epic-ness of it seems particularly suited to this day and this week.



The Way I See It: Growth

It was The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring with live music. Live music! The film played through a projector on a huge screen, and right below it, the orchestra and choir played through the entire film. Pure beauty.

I've been thinking a lot about how beauty makes us grow. Seeing beauty is definitely a growing experience, but I struggle with how to explain it. It's a growing deeper into the world and ourselves, a type of becoming. The growth that beauty brings is unquantifiable. It pushes and pierces and prods us, until we reach a state of surprise and wonder. We become more human after encounters with beauty, after beauty makes us grow.

Just the day before the concert, I watched Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life with some friends. It is one of the most beautiful films I have ever seen (and actually deserves an entire post for itself). At the end of the film, there was a wordless wonder that we all felt and a growing of our friendship that we shared this piece of beauty together. I felt the same way after the Lord of the Rings concert. Beauty helps us grow together, as friends and as humans.

Growing in beauty is something that seems just out of reach for our words.

(The Way I See It is hosted by Molly at Close at Home.)


Even in the smallest places

but wait, oh wait
see how the morning breaks
it's the simplest of love songs, but it's all our hearts can take

and though we lose our stake
heaven is where we make it
even in the smallest places, can a garden grow

(Lyrics from Garden by Noah Gunderson, my newest favorite music artist)

(also, listen to the beautiful Honest Songs)


Somethings small and very beautiful

patterned raindrops

watching worlds

autumned colors



The Way I See It: Peace

Peace feels familiar in the newness of the morning. I love watching the sun-patterns in my house - seeing the blue light fade and the gold light come.

This is the time of quiet. I can hear every step I take and fill the silence with words, not my own, but belonging to the prayers of old. Peace.

This afternoon, peace came when he fell asleep in my arms. Babysitting for six hours has its ups and downs, but this welcome moment made it all worth it.


And sometimes, peace comes when I least expect it. I've been sick lately, even more than usual. Insomnia makes for some very, very long nights. In the middle of those nights, when I've exhausted myself with crying, I'll grab a blanket and try to catch a glimpse of the stars outside. City lights don't allow for too many, but the few I see, they're enough. Enough to remind me of plans bigger and greater than myself, of His faithfulness and His love.

There, also, I find peace.


(The Way I See It is hosted by Molly at Close at Home. Next week's theme is growth.)


The Way I See It: Evening

I always feel slightly guilty if I'm not outside during this time they call 'golden light'. I love the way the calm light settles over everything, turning yellows to golds and greens into emeralds. I would spend hours with this light. It only lasts for so long, though.

To the hedge on the side
And the light in your eyes
To the quiet long walks
Of fast-moving time
let evening come.

"Let it come, as it will, and don’t
be afraid. God does not leave us
comfortless, so let evening come."

(First verse is mine, then a direct quote from Jane Kenyon's Let Evening Come.)

The Way I See It is hosted by Molly at Close to Home. This week's upcoming theme is peace.


Sunday (small) Joys

I can hear each key that she types. It's a strange Sunday evening. We have the house to ourselves - two sisters, a labradoodle, and a very lazy cat.

I'm shelving encyclopedias back into our overcrowded bookshelves while she persuades herself to stop tumblr/youtube-ing and to start studying for precalculus. I'm definitely enjoying her internet adventures. She has wonderful taste in music (listen to this).

I should probably be studying also, or at least, preparing for the week. Instead, I spent most of this evening looking through delightfully random words in our encyclopedias. Wikipedia can't compete with the beautiful heavy weight of these books or the smooth, smooth feel of the pages.

Of course, when paper time comes around, I probably won't be spending much time with these particular gorgeous books, but for this Sunday night, I'll enjoy every minute with them.


Midnight Taco Runs

As soon as we were hungry enough, we jumped in my truck, along with two willing siblings, then headed towards the nearest taco stand. It seemed like a small beacon on that darkly lit street.

I tried to catch that joy that comes in between their laughter and their smiles. But pictures can't catch their breathless giggles or the smell of fresh carne asada or even the small splash of water (was it soda?) that fell on my face when my sister started laughing mid-sip.

Tacos just taste better at midnight.


Portraits, I

There's a simple beauty to her.


Learning to Sit Still (Capon)

"There are more important things to do than hurry. If the prophets of automation and cybernation are right, leisure, not labor, is going to be the normal condition of man. Men will become philosophers, artists, and poets just to stay sane: Contemplation will be the only defense against drowning in our own spare time. Even now, the doctrine of justification by work is difficult to defend. Jobs are shorter and more boring than they used to be. It's hard to believe that five hours of a day button-pushing and paper-shuffling are the heart and soul of human existence. The grim old religion of salvation by rushing will go bankrupt altogether, and we shall go straight out of our minds - unless we learn to sit still.

The habit of contemplation, therefore - the ability to sit down in front of something and care enough to let it speak for itself - cannot be acquired soon enough. Accordingly, I invite you, too, to put your feet up o the stove. If some true believer in the gospel of haste comes along and asks us why we are wasting time, we shall tell him we are busy getting the seats of our pants properly shined up for the millenium."

- The Supper of the Lamb by Fr. Robert Farrar Capon



"And for a moment, I understand that I have friends on this lonely path, that sometimes your place is not something you find, but something you have when you need it." - Libba Bray, Rebel Angels

I love school, but sometimes it's exhausting. Wednesday was one of those days that had a beautiful start, but towards the end of the day, I could barely keep myself together. I felt hedged in by the heat, overwhelmed by the crowds of unknown faces, and rather lost and disoriented. My own weakness scared me. I almost went home, even though I still had a huge assignment for my three-hour class.

Then, just ten minutes later, I found myself with three friends, talking about prayers and plays. And then another friend joined us, and another, and another. We all sat there and talked about everything and anything from Plato to Indiana Jones. People drifted in and out of the conversation, and sometimes we just sat there with nothing to say. Still, we were there.

Somehow, in that room with its uneven lighting and strange assortment of tables and chairs, with the friends who came and the friends who left, I felt place. I still felt exhausted, yet the sharp feeling of displacement had left, and instead there was a quiet joy. It's strange how strong I feel during those moments of place, even when I'm at my weakest. Strange and absolutely beautiful.


Cobwebs and Light

I came and sat underneath the sycamore trees. The larger-than-life sculpture towered over me. Strange, but I first noticed the cobwebs between the figures' massive hands. The webs, so light and fragile against the bronze matter, caught light and held it, but only for an instant. A blink of the eye or quick turn of head, and the light fled. It settled on the figures, sinking deep into the folds of their garments, the furrows on their brows.

I stayed there for an hour, watching the light fall all around. Such beauty.

(The sculpture is Rodin's Burghers of Calais at the Norton Simon Museum. Highly, highly, highly recommended, if you're ever in the area.)


Last day of summer

Yesterday, I joined my Mom and brothers on their weekly beach trip. I knew this would probably be my last beach trip with family for the summer. School starts next week, and I have homework assignments ready to be read. So I counted this as my last day of summer.

On our way there, my Mom and I sang along to Queen, Journey, and Bonnie Tyler. MA sat in the back with a half-smile, ready to wince when we reached extended high notes. He only protested at Bohemian Rhapsody. He didn't think a song should be legally allowed to be that long.

We spent hours at the beach - sitting, watching the waves, occasionally jumping into the cold, clear water, and just talking. My two aunts and lots of cousins were with us. Together, we squeezed lots of adventures into that one day.

I left early with MA, both of us too exhausted to want any more beach adventures. As I began driving, a peace settled on us. We've had so many car rides together this summer, just us two. He sits in the back, and when it's a good day, we fall into a rhythm: a rhythm of silence, music, some talk, and then more silence. We drove through the Laguna canyon along windy roads and saw shadows pass in and out between the hills. The light fell with such a heavy weight, I wanted to pull over and just watch the light transform the brown scrub plants into a landscape of gold and emerald.

An hour later, we drove through more hills and saw the sunset. The dirt and smog that had discolored the blue sky earlier now became brilliant shades of violet, orange, and blue. MA had fallen asleep, and I listened to a lecture on glory. Between the inspiring words coming from my speakers, the glorious sunset outside, and the quiet companionship of a sleeping brother, I could only smile and think a thousand thanks for the beauty of the moment.

I couldn't ask for a better way to end summer.


Beautiful Words

"That the world is old and frayed is no surprise; that the world could ever become new beyond uncertainty was and is, such a surprise that I find myself referring all subsequent kinds of knowledge to it...I am a frayed and nibbled survivor in a fallen world, and I am getting along. I am aging and eaten and have done my share of eating too. I am not washed and beautiful, in control of a shining world in which everything fits, but instead am wandering awed about on a splintered wreck I’ve come to care for, whose gnawed trees breathe a delicate air, whose bloodied and scarred creatures are my dearest companions, and whose beauty beats and shines not in its imperfections but overwhelmingly in spite of them, under the wind-rent clouds, upstream and down.”

Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, (emphasis mine)

This post at the Image blog reminded me again of how much I love this quote.



Saying goodbye to a place
To the light coming in
Through small, rectangle windows
With small dirt stains ahead
To the small chair that sits
With a confident air
And the streets that I've walked
Over and over again
Times I can't count,
Like grains of the sand
Or, at least, a handful or two.

And even harder, saying goodbye to the people
To their eyes and their smiles
And their constant alive, being beside
Us, all along the way while
We learned to stumble and grow
And even though it's for a moment, a few months of our lives
This saying goodbye couldn't be harder -
For them or for us?
We hardly know, but it's come.

So we say
Goodbye to this place, to these walls, to this home
And goodbye to the people, whom we know, and we love.



And all the words I should have said
Come stumbling in with unwashed feet
They've waited, wandered, wondered why
I've left them incomplete.



We prepared a feast for them: Thai steak salad, shrimp-stuffed bacon-wrapped jalapeƱos, not-so-fluffy jasmine rice, and spiced chicken kabobs. The boys set up green and white tables outside. Then we waited until the sun set, and our house filled with people and hugs. When family comes to visit from out-of-state, it's always a delightful event.

I walked outside and listened for awhile. Spanish conversation with bits of English interjections slipped in between long, loud stretches of happy laughter. I love their smiles; the same smile reflected on the six faces of my Mom and her siblings, their inheritance from my Grandpa.

We moved inside when the night-air became too cold. I could hear one cousin playing the piano, another building legos with my brother, and the constant stream of aunts and cousins from the kitchen to the family room, bearing coffee and dessert to the men of the family.

The night ended so quickly, and we soon stood outside, waving as they all piled into different cars. We see some of them three times a year, others we haven't seen in three years, and we don't exactly know when we'll see them again. But for now, this time is beautiful. This is family.



My favorite used bookstore had a sale today. I walked away with all these books for only $10.

Happiness indeed, my friends.



'500 days of summer' bench

Some of the best days come when sisters have absolutely impromptu visits to downtown LA.


Two New Favorites

"The Curator seeks to encourage, promote, and uncover those artifacts of culture – those things which humans create – that inspire and embody truth, goodness, and beauty. We do this through considering and grappling with the zeitgeist."

Image: Art - Faith - Mystery

"Understandably, religion and art also need each other. When we lack the kind of stimulus which only the imagination can provide, we make it more difficult to live the life of faith. And art, when it sees no creation to celebrate, and no soul in need of nurturing, loses its respect for truth."


On Joy

"The world does bad things to us all, and we do bad things to the world and to each other and maybe most of all to ourselves, but in that dazzle of bright water as the glittering whales hurled themselves into the sun, we saw that joy is what we belong to. Joy is home. God created us in joy and created us for joy, and in the long run, not all the darkness there is in the world and in ourselves can separate us finally from that joy, because whatever else it means to say that God created us in his image, it means that even when we cannot believe in him, even when we feel most spiritually bankrupt and deserted by him, his mark is deep within us.

We have God's joy in our blood."

Frederick Buechner, The Great Dance (emphasis mine)


A Summer Walk

We decided to spend an afternoon walking. My youngest brother, MA, and I left the house together with a happy labradoodle at our side. I carried a letter because our nominal goal was to take the letter to the post-office, but honestly, we just wanted the time and space that the calm summer day offered us.

We walked a couple blocks singing bits of songs, everything from Justin Bieber to The Sound of Music. Then we talked about everything under the sun.

"I know a girl who likes me."

"Oh really? I knew a boy who liked me."

"Oh," he said and kept on walking, then in the same semi-serious tone, "Do you think I should buy a slushie or a candy?"

After two miles, we reached the post-office, passed under coffee-colored walls, and stepped on all the uneven stones. We spent a couple minutes trying to understand how to get my letter into the rather menacing blue postal box. Postal boxes are not as intuitive as one would think. Not at all. We celebrated our victory with slushies and bionicos and sat down under a small patch of shade, waving at the passing traffic.

On the way back, we took frequent stops on helpful green benches, both for his sake and mine. We also stopped at every house that had a dog. One of the dogs we passed had such a loud, deep bark that we flattened our hands and held them out in front of us to catch the sound vibrations. The barks sent tingles through our fingers.

He slipped his hand into mine whenever we crossed streets. He immediately withdrew it once we reached the safe sidewalk, but that small, almost unconscious movement of trust made me treasure that walk, this memory, as something I hope to never forget.


Cello Love


At one moment...

We had the moon above us,

the ocean below,

and the sun setting in the west.

Such a beautiful, perfect day.


Lessons from Art

I have come to feel that everything, even the most ordinary affair, is enriched by the lessons that can be gleaned from art: that beauty is often where you don't expect to find it; that it is something that we may discover and also invent, then reinvent, for ourselves; that the most important things in the world are never as simple as they seem but that the world is also richer when it declines to abide by comforting formulas.

And that it is always good to keep your eyes wide open, because you never know what you wil discover.

From The Accidental Masterpiece: On the Art of Life and Vice Versa by Michael Kimmelman



Sidenote: I have at least twenty drafts sitting in my queue, and I fully intend on finishing and posting at least half of those. They're not current reflections of my life, but still, I'd like to post them.

[from April 2011]

Some days it just gets harder. Waking up with weakness and pain wears me down until some mornings I feel thin and stretched, too broken to even start the day.

At one point, I felt a strange, strong apprehension. Almost as if I saw depression, looked into the dark days ahead, felt the cold pain touch my mind. I cried in fear. I had faced this before. Please God, not again. My weakness crashed down on me - physical, emotional, mental - and I felt powerless to stop the depression. I wanted to choose joy, to see light, but I couldn't. Not on my own, not with this brokenness.

So I asked for prayer with a quick post on Facebook, which only a handful of friends could see. I quickly pressed enter, shut my laptop, and walked out of my room before I could delete my post.

I went outside and looked at the stars. Their beauty gave me clarity. I felt terribly small in the face of this terrifying and huge world. I lay on the concrete. It still held warmth from the forgotten sun. I felt small points of despair ebb away, and I knew joy would come in the morning.

That joy didn't wait for the morning. It came with the stars that faintly light up the LA sky, the chilling breeze that came through my window, in a peace that I cannot ever quite explain. The next morning, my pain was still there, but I had lost the sinking feeling of despair. But not the feeling of brokenness, I didn't feel whole, and still don't.

The miracle is - it wasn't my choice. I didn't choose joy, the way I didn't choose depression in the past. Joy chose me and sought me out in my darkness. It was the way the light filled my room, the prayers of my faithful friends, the text messages from classmates who missed me.

And for now, that's enough. Having joy is enough.


This gentle falling

This gentle falling into grace
Held within a sunlit space --
I caught my breath and blossoms fell
Mingling light with softer smell
Of purple flowers, whole and crushed
And over all, a golden dust
Some part faery, some part pain
The pain that never leaves these days --
This gentle falling into grace
Helped some pieces fall into place.



It's strange to say that school has ended. I didn't write/blog much during the school year, mainly because I said all the words I had to say to the people around me. Conversations are the essence of school itself: between professors and students, students and students, students and books. I learned and loved so many things through these conversations. And now it's over. For two and a half months at least.

The end of school collided with a cousin's wedding and a sister's graduation, all events which traveled at the same velocity of the school year, so I didn't have much time to realize school is over. Now, these days should seem abrupt, unfamiliar, or at least new, yet they don't. They feel right, perfectly placed transitions between school days and summer days.

Hello books, golden light-ed evenings, and adventures always just around the corner.

Hello summer.


On Liturgy

Liturgy pulls our prayers out of the tiresome business of looking after ourselves and into the exhilarating enterprise of seeing and participating in what God is doing. We are drawn into a large generosity where everyone is getting and receiving, offering and praising. We are drawn to the place where people are being loved and where they love us. We are deepened into the practice of humanity in covenant with God that goes both beneath and beyond our self-defined religious desire. We are put beside people who help us and whom we can help. Liturgy breaks us out of the isolation of ego and emotion where we are cut off from the large winds and landscapes of grace. God wants us outside the walls that quarantine us in our ego-sickness; he pulls us into the great dance of grace in which we find ourselves moving rhythmically and joyfully with partner after partner. Selah - indeed.

Eugene Peterson, Answering God: The Psalms as Tools for Prayer


This Spring Break

I read:


And watched (for the very first time, thanks to the wonderful MK):


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