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


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