I Forgot to Write

I forgot the simplest things in life that made me start whatever you see in these blank pages of cyber space named under a corner I considered mine…

I forgot the essence of bleeding my own story and crafting it in such a way that would inspire me (or others ((hoping))) to walk along the dark hallways of this not-so-much-focused-on-happy-endings kind of life…

I forgot to accommodate Mr. Time when he sincerely wanted to collaborate with Words that kept bogging my mind…

I forgot to see. I forgot to hear. I forgot to feel. I think I had lost my senses when all I wanted to do two years back was to seek, listen and observe the universe, taste every rough crater and watch how it spark intense meteor showers in this world, in my world – the vast ocean of falling stars.

I forgot my purpose here.

I forgot to thirst for the things that would matter here; the things I placed my bets in starting Day One, the things that once made me decide what would / what could I be, the things I considered of prime principle. I forgot them.

I forgot to be inspired. I forgot to inspire. I forgot to write.

I forgot to write for someone who I always wanted to write about. I forgot to write for myself. I started to notice people and I started to want people to notice me back (which hardly happen). And I know that that’s where it hits – I wasn’t able to get back on my feet – the damage I made to my Muse.

Why do we keep on wanting something we think we want that we forget that all the things we need are already right there in front of us?

I created this blog as a space for me to vent out my whatevers in life. This is supposed to be something I enjoy doing for myself – that I don’t think of anybody else when I post what I had to say (whether it’s right or wrong or we differ in view) here. And I did. I really did enjoy.

Back then, my ears are spilling with courage telling me that expressing myself through an art form (aka Writing) could be a good way for me to find myself, to understand the depth of my being, to enrich a talent that I could use in bringing people to believe in a quiet whisper of hope.

And I don’t want to stop now just because I’m discouraged. I know that the Big Guy is always behind me to support the very desire of my heart which I can use for His glory.

I loved blogging. I loved that I dreamed of inspiring people through writing; giving words of assurance not only to myself, but to whoever lands on this page, that no matter how hard the waves of life could be, our boat will never sink as long as we are with our Captain. That no matter how discouraged we are now, we can still choose to see the light in the darkest of places; we can still be conquerors even we once feared to be in a battle; we can still go back to where we used to be, to what we used to do – even we sometimes forget, there is Hope telling us that we can still learn to remember.

Cactus! No, I mean Caucus. But for Now, eyes open!

Sorry for not writing in a lot lately. I had been busy doing nothing. And nothing is impossible, hence, I had been busy doing the impossible! Haha! I know, I can get a lot of sense sometimes. :) but no, I’m kinda was busy or was I just lazy? Either way, I’m back! And I’m here to talk about something I should have a few weeks ago…

A few weeks back, a friend of a friend of mine asked, in out of the blue, because-he-just-wanted-to-know moment (and what I think is an Avon commercial pegged question too): Kriselle, he said, anong pangarap mo [what is your dream]?.

I thought about it but I couldn’t – for the life of me – give a good answer; the one in which he could’ve said Wow. Nice dream. High-five!

My dilemma was (a) I always wanted to look smart when answering a simple question tell me about it, but, (b) should I give him a serious answer or not?; (c) we’re not quite ‘close’ and so I’m not ‘quite’ obliged to give a personal answer, right? And dreams are something of personal value and connection, ain’t it?; (d) a.k.a. the worst part – did I create choices b and c so that I can justify why I can’t answer such a simple question of my own dream? It’s like I’m back in sixth grade when Mrs. Hidalgo is asking her class to make an essay about What do I wanna be when I grow up? and the very exercise would take me five to ten sheets of yellow paper tossed around the trash bin within one hundred thirty seven minutes and twenty-three seconds before the clock strikes twelve.

Actually, the first thing that came to my mind when the question was asked was whatever God wants me to be or wherever God puts me to be. But then I thought, that’s showing my vulnerable side, so, I’m not gonna answer that. And besides, I don’t even know if his question was meant for career moves or love life or family relationships or life itself. What is your dream? is such a broad question with a million and one answer. It’s so general. It’s so… um, milky-way. It can fit a lot of galaxies and it would go on forever.

Until now, when I come to think of it, I still don’t know what my dream is or what my dreams are or do I even understand the word or do I really know my answer? What does dream mean? Is it like a vision? Or more of a purpose? Or if not, would they be able to connect same dots at the end of a pattern? It’s making me dizzy. I’m going crazy. I’m thinking of walking away. But no, I’m not walking away. I’m not leaving it afloat right here, in a limbo, unanswered. Because somewhere at some point along the cobwebs, I’ll have to face it all over again and it can whip my head with a baseball bat and that wouldn’t be fun the second time around. Ergo, I’m sitting down and have a face-to-face heart-to-heart talk with this thing right now.

So, what is my dream?

When I asked the friend of this friend of a friend of mine who asked the dream question: how will one person know his dream or what he wants (because I for one am having a hard time)? Then, he gave me this illustration. Btw, he mastered Communication Research (my College course) that’s why I think he gave me this conceptual-framework-answer.

20120730-091859.jpg

Apparently, in this framework you got: what you want, what you are capable of doing (your skills) and what God wants you to do (your purpose). Now these will determine what your dream is or what you’re meant to do.

What I want?
I believe in every stages of your life, there would be times (many times) that you will have a variety of what you want. When I was a kid, my ultimate priority is to finish my studies. Then, I thought, after that I could think of what I want to do. But high school came and then you had to take this nationwide career guide exam to determine what would or could fit your interest or skills. I didn’t follow mine, though. My result was to be in Entrepreneurial course but I chose Mass Communication instead (because my result also showed me high scores on my vocabulary and reading comprehension). And besides, high school was the time when I wanted to be a newscaster when I grow up. I thought it’s quite cool and just smart.

When College came, I never intended to be in a Research course because I wanted to be in Broadcast Communication. I thought, when I get that course then I could really be trained up to be one good reporter. And so, I never got to be in a Broadcast course because the interviewer was enticing me to be in this Research course which was a fresh offering from the university I went in. Imagine, I went all the hours of waiting in the line, refusing to make a shortcut when you apply for this Research course, and with all those hours, you’ll just tell yourself Man, I should’ve grabbed this a little earlier to save me some time! Because after all the waiting, they would still prefer you to be in the Research course. And their basis? Your grades in English, Math and Science when you were in your senior high school. And the one question I asked that made me decide (aside from I don’t have a a lot of cards anymore) was, Is there a chance for me to be a newscaster if I enter this course? The interviewer said yes and told me some other more perks. Then I agreed.

My block in College was, and still is, a bright bunch. They are! I couldn’t think of anyone who is less than that. I am telling you. Anyways, in College, I learned a lot of things. But I can’t say that I am one little expert on Research even if that’s my course because I am not. But I got to do more of what I want when I’m in College than that when I’m in high school. College was a comfort zone. It’s fun. It was from this point when I got to be influenced on a lot of things. And this was also the point when I got to love the radio. Yes, I loved the radio so much that I wanted to be a disc-jock after or while I’m still in College.

Radio hit me hard in the core. I felt that DJ-ing is what I’m born to do or what I would love to do. And I mean it with all my heart and I think it was so. But I know that DJ-ing could only be a part-time job (and I would love to do it even for free) and so I got to think of other ways I could survive life after College. I thought that I got or should practice my course when I’m in the real world already because I sincerely know that that would make me happy. I wanted to be in a corporate world, be in marketing or advertising or media, as long as there is research involve (though am not quite good at it) is a good deal for me.

Soon after College ended, real world welcomes you with not much of a grace as you should expect it to be. And sometimes, what you wanted and had planned on doing won’t push through. That doesn’t mean though that you won’t like what will be offered to you. And now, after all these, what I really want now is to do my job, stretch my hands to people and be an agent of change and help in transforming the nation. I know I won’t be here, in my recent field, for long. I still dream to practice my course or to be in the corporate field. I still want that. But sometimes I don’t really know what I want anymore.

What are my skills?
Well, I know basic research. I got to experience doing Content Analysis for a thesis project and Audience Research for an internship requirement. I know how to use the computer – MS applications, Internet and all. Because I know how to blog, I can or I think I’m capable of managing websites. I know how to write – formal and informal. I am a good transcriptionist (this one I love doing, it’s very easy). And because of the work I’m in, I know how to organize and coordinate events, to facilitate, to do modules (Vella or Dialogue Education style), to manage a Facebook page (haha! Easy for any youth. But I’m having a hard time to have a mass reach of thousands and thousands.), to network, etcetera.

I think I am a creative writer, because some of my DGroup friends (who btw encourage me a lot on writing because of this blog: thank you so much to all of you!!! You’re making my heart happy when you read what I got to say on the world where we are all running a race. I love you all!) called me such. I do poems; though most of them are love poems. I got a good manner of speaking, I mean, I think I really have a potential to be a DJ! Haha! Maisingit lang. So please, radio stations, I know I failed in auditioning but you can train me and give me a try. I can accommodate for free! HAHA. Desperate? I am an eager learner and when I focus real hard, I can achieve what I wanted or more of what is expected of me.

So yeah, that’s about it. Or I could discover something more in the long run. And oh, I can ogre burp if that’s one good qualification. HAHA!

What’s my purpose?
Apart from Christ I am nothing. My ultimate purpose in life is to bring glory to His name. Now, I don’t know yet what, where and how He wanted to use me (because I’m not asking yet). All I know is that I needed to be faithful where I am now because I could use this on the time He appointed me to.

I know I should consult with Him about these things more often because I’m totally at lost when I don’t do (which probably the main reason why I don’t have any idea what I suppose to do yet since I am not talking with Him about these things). Sometimes, I’m afraid to know the answer. You know how sometimes your plans and His plans are different? And faith, faith is just about so important. We need to trust Him. I need to trust Him. And I feel that He wants me where I am now (even I don’t like it here sometimes) so I’m gonna stick with it. I got over an ounce of courage and a seed of faith and for now, that would be enough. I would let it grow, I would fill it up so that I could be strong as a bamboo when the winds starts blowing in.

Now, what is my dream?
I still don’t have an answer. I don’t have specific things to do yet. All I know is, wherever I am, I need to be present here. And although sometimes I am relaxed and at peace or sometimes I’m in paranoia and worry because I don’t know the answer to many of my questions, things will going to be fine.

Sometimes we wrestle with the answers to much that we consequently forget that it’s not about the answers. Not entirely. It’s about becoming and growing. It’s about courage, a search entering the unknown and embracing the wilderness. Most of all: it’s absolutely okay to be lost. We just have to trust that we will find our way. In time.

-Isabel Garcia

Maybe I’m lost and I don’t know what or where should my roads and cards go (yet). But being lost has its own beauty of being found. Even being in a maze makes it hard for you to go by, the maze will let you find an answer in the end. Continue to believe that everything will be worthwhile just as long as you keep on being faithful. Someone somewhere will catch you and will cause good things to chase after you. Trust. Listen. Hope. Learn to obey.

I think, I could get what I wanted to do when I find the joy of exploring and hanging on the things the Big Guy wants me to have and learn. I know I am being prepared. And I hope and pray that I would have all the more time to discuss these matters to Him as it is of importance to me. I hope He could use me and I’m gonna be a cheerful-wholehearted-child while at it.

As for now, there’s so much to learn and to try and to not succeed and to fail and to experience. There’ll be tough times of unanswered thoughts but I know the Big Guy will grant me / will grant you an eyes open to all the wonderful things He has in store for you, your family, your community, your place and your mission field.

At the most, we need to be present. :) eyes open and present. :)

The Day I Met Sarah Kay and Why the Scarecrow Got Invited to TED

During latter years in College, the love for words and poetry grown in me quite dramatically. It was, in my graduating year, that I’ve ventured on writing poems, particularly about admiration, fascination, hurt, pain, but above all, love. I never ever thought that I could possibly render a part of me – my heart, and then, my soul – on to writing. I never expected myself to find joy in that. Although I only have poems that you can count by your fingertips and you could notice how shallow, how girly and dreamy they are, I’ll still continue to write them if I need to until I can find another shades of greens or maroons or yellows and teals that could add another abstract of colors in my life.

Over the past few years, I have learned that writing is an art of the emotion. And it’s different too, with each and everyone of us – because of what we’ve gone through and what we’ve haven’t gone through. When I go about blogs after blogs after blogs, books after books after books, person after person after person and study how they are able to come up with a certain article, I always discover that each of them got different styles and that although they’re in the same topic, they would still all fall in the Distinct-From-Each-Other Department.

Writing is also similar to a kaleidoscope that transforms the many shapes and colors and sizes of where we fit in on what we call, life, into something more beautiful and entertaining and captivating. That although we think a candy wrapper or afternoon coffee or stuttering in front of someone altogether is not worthy of a poem, a short story or an essay, we’ll know that we’ve got it all wrong. Because in writing, life can’t be boring. You can always make sense of life when you actually got to write it. You figure out things, like, what does a candy wrapper really means when a candy was given by someone you deeply admire who bumped on you when you’re about to take your afternoon coffee in the pantry of the 39th floor of your office who, when you talk to, you all the more can’t help but stutter in every word you’re about to say.

And yes, writing is never meant for every audience in cyber space. I mean, some people dig what you say and some don’t mind at all. Don’t lose heart, though, because even when you think no one wanted to read you, there’ll be someone who always wanted to. When you didn’t write what you’re suppose to, you’ll lose these people who also hangs on strings of hope when you just keep doing what you do when you write. It’s like representing them – tapping them at the back when tides didn’t go the way it should; kissing their tears from their eyes after a broken heart; giving the biggest bear hug and telling them “It’s gonna be okay. You’re gonna be fine.” when they most specially need to. You cannot be there in person because maybe they’re from another part of the world but because of what you have written, they’ll know that they’re not alone. That Life is the same for everybody: unfair. It is, as much as it also bears the name Wonderful and Lovely.

And so, what is the connection of all that I’ve said to meeting Sarah Kay? I don’t know. Haha! I’m still trying to figure that out and let’s all see when I come to the end of my thoughts.

As I said, I read blogs – from friends to total strangers. Reading them became one of my mentors in how I attack or play with something I want to write. Isabel Garcia is one of those writer-blogger who I follow and I made sure that I’ve read her new posts everyday (also re-tracking what she had written all the way from when she was just starting). She is one talented writer. She is very open with all her cracks, broken pieces and all. She is open and when you do write, I think you have to be like that. Plus, one thing I like about her is I can quote her. For all the love I have for quoting people. :) She has these vast statements where you can go right ahead and quote it because you grasped it and felt it and connected with it. She’s ohhh-some like that.

One day when I was browsing her new post Love Will Be, I was drawn to the video she posted about this girl (Sarah Kay) and a boy (Phil Kaye) who are performing something-I-can’t-explain entitled When Love Arrives. They were good at it (read: SUPER good). I was tracing back where I have read the name of the girl at the video. I remember reading it somewhere Isabel’s blog, but anyway, I googled her and found some interesting things about her.

Sarah Kay is a spoken word poet where she performs poems that she had written to entertain, educate or simply inspire (I wonder if I can do that to my poems too). Phil Kaye is someone who she encountered in College and who is sharing the same art of spoken word poetry as hers. As I’m doing my research on her, I found out that she also had an opportunity to showcase her two cents worth on TED Talks.

After watching this, I was determined on searching for her other performances of spoken word poetry! And I did. I watched a lot more of her performances and there were a few I kept on my iPod (Worst Poetry, An Origin Story, Jellyfish, Toothbrush to a Bicycle Tire – and yes – When Love Arrives and her TED Talks talk).

She’s writing poems and performing them in a way where she can be the best when she’s the one doing it. It’s about her pursuance of what she loves and is passionate about. It’s about going to life open-handed even when everything around you just blows out of proportions. Sarah Kay is so inspiring in so many ways I don’t even know where to begin praising. And it’s true what she said about the scarecrow being invited to TED, because she’s out-standing in her field. (read: Sarah Kay’s mastery of spoken word poetry)

There will be times that you got to follow your dreams even if the current takes you to the opposite side of the sea. It might be scary and you might think that you can’t do it, like Sarah. But she took her first step, she said I can. And you know, we can too. And yes, I say I can to writing because I realized this has been my dream – to shed bliss and inspiration to people through art form. And I think spoken word poetry would be another dream to chase like a kite running free in a windy day of May. I wonder if I could, like the way I did in writing, find it within myself and do it. :)

Jacob and I

Do you know how certain things, ideas or concepts sometimes doesn’t make sense in your point of view? Like no matter what angle you take a look on the sides of the coin, you don’t see a totem that was supposed to be there? It’s just wasn’t there and your perplexed mind then don’t see how much that coin’s worth?

If there’s someone in history that I can’t comprehend or sympathize with for quite a long time now is this Genesis-28-guy, Jacob. I don’t really get the point of him being chosen – at all. I don’t get it. I don’t accept it. I really don’t understand it. When I heard preachings about Jacob, I got mood-blank verges. I never enjoyed discussing him, BUT, I tried.

Miles Halter of Looking For Alaska once said,

But we can’t know better until knowing better became useless.

I tried my hardest to cope up with my I-don’t-quite-like-this-Jacob-guy protest because I know there’s something in him, in his story, that sets the tone on a different note. I don’t wanna risk the opportunity of not giving the guy a chance. After all, it might be that I’m on another chapter of the page that’s why I don’t see any significant narrative scripts at all. And yes, I wanna know better details about him now before I regret not knowing these details later. Ha! Are we still communicating? In other words, do you still get me or what I say? Pardon me, I’m hazy somemost times.

Alright, you might wonder why am I treating Jacob like this anyways? I got two reasons.

For one, he is chosen. If you’ll go through his account and story in Genesis, it will show you that even before he was born, he was already chosen by God (Genesis 25:23). He is the youngest, but he was bound to be blessed than his older brother.

Secondly, he is chosen but he seemed not worthy of a choice. He is a liar, a schemer and a deceiver (Genesis 27). To get the blessing dedicated to his brother, he deceived his father. It’s awful, right?

I am actually debating this in my mind. See, God is the God of Justice – He is fair to everyone. But, why does He need to choose? And between Jacob and his older brother, Esau, why choose the younger one? Why did God has this plan of the younger leading the older? Another question that pops out of my mind is that, yes the Big Guy already chosen someone – but then, how can you be choosing someone who is like him? I felt like in so many ways, Jacob doesn’t deserve to be chosen.

When I’m pondering on these thoughts one day, reality hit me like a train on a rack. I don’t suppose to question God’s choice or His decision because I cannot fathom the mind of Christ at all. He knows what to do, He is God. And then, I realize I am categorizing Jacob as a “bad guy” in my mind. If you’re going to choose someone to make a difference in the world and lay out your plan for mankind, you should pick the better guy instead. Yes, I was so judgmental on Jacob that I forgot that indeed, God is the God fairness and equality. I didn’t see that I was trying to be told here that even out of Jacob’s ugly past, his imperfections, God chose him just as He chose you. Just as He chose me.

You know, Jacob at the end, understood God – His presence, protection and favor He gave him. After he experienced a taste of his own medicine when he himself was the object of lying, scheming and deceiving by his father-in-law, he was astound by how God kept him. And right there and then, he chose to follow God.

I was mad about God picking Jacob that I forgot that if that’s the case, I should be mad about why God picked me as well – a worrier, doubtful person, no talent, ordinary, a wallflower, failure in many ways and a bad girl stained with imperfection. Upon realizing that, I understood now why Jacob was chosen. God wants me to see that He can use even a schemer to impact the present with that story of his past. It won’t happen that way, though, if Jacob didn’t choose God. But gratefully, he did. And there’s something we can look back to now.

God loves and chooses us first before we love and choose Him back. He is a perfect gentleman, he’ll take ninety steps towards you but you gonna make that last step to Him. He will not force you or me to go to Him, He will wait there. Patiently.

Wouldn’t it make you extremely joyful that even you’re not an all-time good person, God chose you despite of it? I think it’s comforting to play in the arena if your Team Captain chose you despite the fact that you cannot even dribble the ball properly. It’s like, you’ve been allowed to play in Miami versus Thunders NBA Finals even when your field of expertise is something very far from it.

I don’t know about you, but knowing that I’m chosen even I’m me (translation: imperfect), that means a lot. And I hope I do the right things in bestest way to make my Coach proud. After all, He saw me as someone worthy of a chance when I, myself doesn’t see which side of me is that. :)

What If Jesus Meant All That Stuff?

To all my nonbelieving, sort-of-believing, and used-to-be-believing friends: I feel like I should begin with a confession. I am sorry that so often the biggest obstacle to God has been Christians. Christians who have had so much to say with our mouths and so little to show with our lives. I am sorry that so often we have forgotten the Christ of our Christianity.

Forgive us. Forgive us for the embarrassing things we have done in the name of God.

The other night I headed into downtown Philly for a stroll with some friends from out of town. We walked down to Penn’s Landing along the river, where there are street performers, artists, musicians. We passed a great magician who did some pretty sweet tricks like pour change out of his iPhone, and then there was a preacher. He wasn’t quite as captivating as the magician. He stood on a box, yelling into a microphone, and beside him was a coffin with a fake dead body inside. He talked about how we are all going to die and go to hell if we don’t know Jesus.

Some folks snickered. Some told him to shut the hell up. A couple of teenagers tried to steal the dead body in the coffin. All I could do was think to myself, I want to jump up on a box beside him and yell at the top of my lungs, “God is not a monster.” Maybe next time I will.

The more I have read the Bible and studied the life of Jesus, the more I have become convinced that Christianity spreads best not through force but through fascination. But over the past few decades our Christianity, at least here in the United States, has become less and less fascinating. We have given the atheists less and less to disbelieve. And the sort of Christianity many of us have seen on TV and heard on the radio looks less and less like Jesus.

At one point Gandhi was asked if he was a Christian, and he said, essentially, “I sure love Jesus, but the Christians seem so unlike their Christ.” A recent study showed that the top three perceptions of Christians in the U. S. among young non-Christians are that Christians are 1) antigay, 2) judgmental, and 3) hypocritical. So what we have here is a bit of an image crisis, and much of that reputation is well deserved. That’s the ugly stuff. And that’s why I begin by saying that I’m sorry.

Now for the good news.

I want to invite you to consider that maybe the televangelists and street preachers are wrong — and that God really is love. Maybe the fruits of the Spirit really are beautiful things like peace, patience, kindness, joy, love, goodness, and not the ugly things that have come to characterize religion, or politics, for that matter. (If there is anything I have learned from liberals and conservatives, it’s that you can have great answers and still be mean… and that just as important as being right is being nice.)

The Bible that I read says that God did not send Jesus to condemn the world but to save it… it was because “God so loved the world.” That is the God I know, and I long for others to know. I did not choose to devote my life to Jesus because I was scared to death of hell or because I wanted crowns in heaven… but because he is good. For those of you who are on a sincere spiritual journey, I hope that you do not reject Christ because of Christians. We have always been a messed-up bunch, and somehow God has survived the embarrassing things we do in His name. At the core of our “Gospel” is the message that Jesus came “not [for] the healthy… but the sick.” And if you choose Jesus, may it not be simply because of a fear of hell or hope for mansions in heaven.

Don’t get me wrong, I still believe in the afterlife, but too often all the church has done is promise the world that there is life after death and use it as a ticket to ignore the hells around us. I am convinced that the Christian Gospel has as much to do with this life as the next, and that the message of that Gospel is not just about going up when we die but about bringing God’s Kingdom down. It was Jesus who taught us to pray that God’s will be done “on earth as it is in heaven.” On earth.

One of Jesus’ most scandalous stories is the story of the Good Samaritan. As sentimental as we may have made it, the original story was about a man who gets beat up and left on the side of the road. A priest passes by. A Levite, the quintessential religious guy, also passes by on the other side (perhaps late for a meeting at church). And then comes the Samaritan… you can almost imagine a snicker in the Jewish crowd. Jews did not talk to Samaritans, or even walk through Samaria. But the Samaritan stops and takes care of the guy in the ditch and is lifted up as the hero of the story. I’m sure some of the listeners were ticked. According to the religious elite, Samaritans did not keep the right rules, and they did not have sound doctrine… but Jesus shows that true faith has to work itself out in a way that is Good News to the most bruised and broken person lying in the ditch.

It is so simple, but the pious forget this lesson constantly. God may indeed be evident in a priest, but God is just as likely to be at work through a Samaritan or a prostitute. In fact the Scripture is brimful of God using folks like a lying prostitute named Rahab, an adulterous king named David… at one point God even speaks to a guy named Balaam through his donkey. Some say God spoke to Balaam through his ass and has been speaking through asses ever since. So if God should choose to use us, then we should be grateful but not think too highly of ourselves. And if upon meeting someone we think God could never use, we should think again.

After all, Jesus says to the religious elite who looked down on everybody else: “The tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the Kingdom ahead of you.” And we wonder what got him killed?

I have a friend in the UK who talks about “dirty theology” — that we have a God who is always using dirt to bring life and healing and redemption, a God who shows up in the most unlikely and scandalous ways. After all, the whole story begins with God reaching down from heaven, picking up some dirt, and breathing life into it. At one point, Jesus takes some mud, spits in it, and wipes it on a blind man’s eyes to heal him. (The priests and producers of anointing oil were not happy that day.)

In fact, the entire story of Jesus is about a God who did not just want to stay “out there” but who moves into the neighborhood, a neighborhood where folks said, “Nothing good could come.” It is this Jesus who was accused of being a glutton and drunkard and rabble-rouser for hanging out with all of society’s rejects, and who died on the imperial cross of Rome reserved for bandits and failed messiahs. This is why the triumph over the cross was a triumph over everything ugly we do to ourselves and to others. It is the final promise that love wins.

It is this Jesus who was born in a stank manger in the middle of a genocide. That is the God that we are just as likely to find in the streets as in the sanctuary, who can redeem revolutionaries and tax collectors, the oppressed and the oppressors… a God who is saving some of us from the ghettos of poverty, and some of us from the ghettos of wealth.

In closing, to those who have closed the door on religion — I was recently asked by a non-Christian friend if I thought he was going to hell. I said, “I hope not. It will be hard to enjoy heaven without you.” If those of us who believe in God do not believe God’s grace is big enough to save the whole world… well, we should at least pray that it is.

Your brother,

Shane
GRABBED from Shane Clairborne.

Anecdotes on the Other Side of the Ocean

Growing up. Mr. Webster defines it as a verb, an action word, which means to grow toward or arrive at full stature or physical or mental maturity. I, on the other, see this as an event of twist and turns, ups and downs, acceptance and rejection, fear and courage, doubt and faith.

You see, life is but a hard road to travel. It is so hard that it could just caught you off guard and knock you out of your balance. The path will never be easy but I believe that’s where the beauty lies. We go through its courses that sharpens our perspective, understanding, character and attitude. These courses often require us to embrace change, to embrace growth from and within ourselves. But this, however, is my dilemma at twenty years old.

I can’t process, I can’t grasp this whole idea of growing up, although I know it’s gonna be beautiful. It’s not that I can’t, really, it’s more of I just don’t want to yet. I really don’t want it just yet. Not now.

When I graduated college (which was a year and nine days now, to be exact), I didn’t have concrete to-do plans but I still have Plans: find a course-related job in the corporate world, be excellent at it, and earn as much as I can for myself and my family while doing it. That’s the Plan. That’s my Plan. I never thought of seeing myself doing anything else, just that.

Then came one day and my Plan was set aside and was kept in its box. I was surprised to be on this other journey than the ones I’ve set my mind on to. I was suddenly working for a non-profit faith-based organization. At first, I don’t really understand what are these people trying to do and why are they doing it at all. But as I sojourn with them, I realized that my dreams before were quite shallow–all I think about is myself and what I want (nothing’s wrong with that) but you see, life in this earth is more than just me or you. We are here to serve others, to be the light and salt in the darkness. Anywhere we are, we have opportunities to do that, we just need to spot where it is exactly and we aren’t suppose to neglect that opportunity. And so, after almost a year, I’m learning from them, I’m learning what and why the Big Guy wants me there.

Being in that sort of a real world makes you see and discover something else within yourself–fear starts to creep in, nerves were just out of place, doubts scatter everywhere. And this, I know, is a part of this growing up cycle: stepping out of your boundaries. However this scares the crap out of me.

Faith, my faith, is on the other side of the coin. I ain’t a kid (baby Christian as they call it) anymore, therefore, it’s just about the right time to take full responsibility when it comes to my relationship with my Father. I am to bear fruit. I am to be transformed. No more playing around. I think and feel that I am such a disappointment to the Big Guy on this part. I don’t know, I don’t do things the way I should. It’s like I don’t want to go through the transition of being a baby to someone taking responsibility. I don’t want to step out my comfort zone. But when I don’t, I know I won’t grow. Growing up needs you to break your barriers, your safe nets, you need to move forward and make Him proud.

Growing up. It’s still of a big word for me. A big word which means responsibility. Especially with the kind of person that I am – I am most terrified in making a mistake. I’m afraid of failing and disappointing the people around me. And I know that’s where I got it all wrong.

In this life, fears will come knocking at your door (but most of the time, it will just go in without permission). The feeling of inadequacy and self-doubt is just around the corner and it’s gonna be a confusing path to take. And although I can’t really comprehend this growing-up thing until now, I know for a fact that there’s Someone Greater – Someone Greater than all of my fears and doubts combined. Someone Greater who’s gonna guide me through all these chaos. Someone Greater who is called peace and stillness, the joy that’s gonna burst inside of you if you let it. Someone Greater who is never ever gonna leave and will be by your side, holding your hands. Someone Greater who’ll give you ways to fly. Someone Greater who you can call hope, a weapon you can truly depend on to.

Time will come when things are gonna be better and everything will make sense after the drought. Always remember (dear self) that failures and mistakes are all included in the package called Life.

***

But these girls, I am certain of in life. They literally grow on me. HAHA! They make growing up a fun thing to do…like in the case of eating this pizza.

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Look.

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See what I mean? Haha! :P

Draw The Line

Your generation is extremely lucky because technology has made you more powerful than the generations before you. Even though I’m much older than you, this is also my graduation year: the year I left traditional media to start a new media company called Rappler.

All around the world, the Internet is turning businesses upside down. Society is shifting beneath our feet. Last week, Facebook bought Instagram, a company that was a year-and-a-half old with 13 employees, for more than a billion dollars.

It’s a flat world today where a small start-up like Rappler can compete against established, better-funded newsgroups. It’s a world where ideas can come from anywhere around the world and travel in the blink of an eye. Ideas from you here in this room now reach decisionmakers in ways never possible before.

Managers my age are trying to understand a digital world that comes naturally to you. So you’re actually entering the workforce with an innate advantage: you don’t have to unlearn the baggage of the past, and you’re better prepared to take risks and discover this brave new world.

Technology has made you as powerful as your future employers. You’re coming of age at a time when your inputs are as valuable as those much older than you.

The virtual world is just like the real world – but faster with no boundaries. It’s a world where people, ideas and emotions travel through densely interconnected social networks. The Philippines, according to ComScore, is the world’s social media capital, and Facebook connects 845 million people around the world, the largest ever in the history of man. How many of you here have Facebook? That’s both a positive and a negative for you because I think it makes it harder for you to deal with the challenge that faced generations before you: how to build meaning into your life.
Meaning is not something you stumble across nor what someone gives you. You build it through every choice you make, through the commitments you choose, the people you love, and the values you live by.

For me, it begins with the choice to learn. Learn all the time. Learn all your life.

Learn from your successes, but more importantly, learn from your failures. When I was about a year older than you, I became a CNN reporter. Like most things in life, I stumbled onto this. I’m a behind-the-scenes person – a producer and director, but for whatever reason, CNN made me a reporter, and I was scared.

I still remember my first standup – the part where you speak directly to the camera. It was so bad my boss in Atlanta sent it back and told me to do it again. He said, “Put on a suit and makeup. You look 16. Your voice is too high. ” I asked, “how do I change my voice?” He said, “drink brandy.” Really, I thought? He said, “Speak with authority.”

To me it translated to “be more arrogant” – I had a pet peeve about a way of being on camera – that air of knowing everything hits me as arrogance. I didn’t want to pretend I knew everything because I didn’t.

Between arrogance and self-confidence
Over the years, I learned that being on-camera is the most unnatural way of being natural. It’s about self-confidence, but there’s a thin line between self-confidence and arrogance. So I watched myself – you know how hard it is to watch yourself? – and I kept doing it over and over again until I was happy. I put in my 10,000 hours – that’s the amount of time Malcolm Gladwell said it takes to become an expert at anything. That’s the point when you start to create – when it fully becomes you.

Being a reporter shaped a lot of who I am today: the ability to walk in anywhere, make quick judgements, ask tough questions, speak plainly.

It all began with that moment of failure.

I wish you the courage to fail – because success and failure are two sides of the same coin. You cannot succeed if at some point you haven’t failed. I’m not the first to say this, but I can tell you I’ve proven it first-hand. You can’t accomplish anything important if you don’t take risks. And you won’t risk if you’re afraid to fail. So “fail fast. Fail forward. Fail better.”

I’m very lucky to have lived through journalism’s golden age. I reported on Southeast Asia’s transition from authoritarian one-man rule to democracy. I had a front-row seat to history: Lee Kuan Yew stepping down in Singapore, the riots leading to the end of Suharto’s 32 year rule in Indonesia, Mahathir ending 24 years as Malaysia’s Prime Minister – so many more. From politics to economics to disasters, social upheavals and terrorist attacks, I was there.

I’ve seen the best and the worst of human nature. In West Kalimantan, I watched young boys playing soccer in a field. Except when I got closer, I realized the ball they were using was the head of an old man. That weekend, I saw 8 people beheaded and nearly threw up at a checkpoint where a man was eating a human foot like a drumstick while a decapitated head was on a metal drum next to him.

I saw 600 people buried in a mass grave and wondered where God was. I have been shot at and stoned. I’ve learned South Korea has the most painful tear gas. I’ve run for my life and used my body to shield one of our interns after we were caught between protestors and the military. I’ve learned it’s easier to risk my life than those of others who trust me.

I’ve learned my greatest enemies are boredom and complacency. When I stop learning or I feel like I’m on auto-pilot, I know it’s time to move on.

It took nearly 20 years of travelling the world for breaking news before my search for meaning pushed me to look beyond CNN. It brought me back home to the Philippines. It was time to stop writing about what other people were doing and build something again.

The Role of Fear
Six years heading ABS-CBN’s news group taught me how to manage Filipinos and how difficult it is to build institutions in this country. It gave me an up-close look at the problems of our society – the problems I hope your generation solves.

I learned people will try to coerce, manipulate, intimidate or threaten you to get what they want. Often, they have a lot at stake, big money, sometimes their lives. And you have to be clear about what you’re afraid of because those are buttons they will push.

Which brings me to the role fear will play in your life. Some people do their best to avoid what they fear. Even when I was younger, I felt that gave fear too much power, and in the process, it begins to define you. So I thought – well, what’s the worst thing that can go wrong? I’ll fail? Remember what I said about failure. Seek it out. Remember the phrase: what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger? It worked for me. What doesn’t kill me will make me stronger.

That’s why I believe it’s so much better to confront your fear than it is to run away from it – because when you face it, you have the chance to conquer it. In doing that, you define who you are.

I’ve learned that the worst fears are not what other people can do to you. What’s harder is when you are alone and answer the tough questions of every day life: What do you stand for? What do you believe in? How far will you go to stand up for what you believe?

Draw the Line
This is your moment to draw your lines. When I was your age, I didn’t set out to fight corruption. That battle found me. The company I helped form in my 20s, Probe, began one of the first public battles against it. At the end of each program, we said Probe supports the fight against envelopmental journalism. Over the years, I discovered how endemic corruption is the root of much of what’s wrong in our country today. In ABS-CBN, I took a zero tolerance approach to corruption: both for our people and those who tried to bribe us. It started because I drew a line when I was your age.

This is your moment to draw your lines. There are some simple truths. The more you say no, the easier it becomes. The more you do the right thing, the harder it is to do the wrong thing. It’s a tipping point approach to building your identity.
My line in the sand was defined long ago – when the fiancée of one of my closest friends offered me $150,000 to do a story for CNN. It wouldn’t be traceable, he told me, and it would be deposited directly into my bank account. He gave the offer over lunch, and although I wanted to say no immediately, he held my hand and said, please take at least a night to sleep on it and think about it.

I was shocked. I didn’t even tell my friend. That night, I thought about it. But then reality stepped in. My sense of self is tied to being a professional journalist, and I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror if I accepted the bribe.

I had drawn the line clearly, and I knew that accepting that money would make me a fundamentally different person. On this side of the line, I’m good. On the other side, I’m evil. On this side, I’m clean. On that side, I’m corrupt. It’s that simple.

Remember that evil people don’t think they’re evil, and corrupt people don’t think they’re corrupt. Corruption is endemic in our country because people rationalize it. They split hairs about definitions. It takes all of us to keep it that way or to change it. The only way it will change is if more of us take a stand against it and refuse to tolerate it.

This is the time to define your ideals because it only gets murkier the older you get. People will tell you “you’re naïve.” They’ll say “it’s the way things are done.” Don’t believe it when people say that. The choice is always yours. Choose to do better.

Which brings me to the last lesson I want to share with you today. You have to have the courage to say no.

Corruption will be significantly reduced if everyone in this room today said no. No to your friends who say it’s ok to do what everyone else is doing. No to your family. Because that is how corruption spreads. Through our social networks.

All of us like to be liked, but remember that being part of any group carries a price. Studies show that peer pressure actually distorts reality so be careful the friends you keep. People will do things as part of a group that actually go against their morals or even harm others.

We Filipinos believe in social harmony, SIR – smooth interpersonal relations, but I’ve seen too many people stand by while the group does bad things in their name.

Take responsibility for the world you are creating.

Let me end the way I began. Now more than ever, technology will give you more power, make you more interconnected. While that is exciting, I think it may make your fundamental search harder – the question we all set out to answer. How do you build meaning into your life?

I’ve given you some of the lessons I learned in trying to answer that question. In the end, you can put all those lessons into this one sentence. You build meaning by choosing what you commit to: whether it’s a cause, a religion, an ethical order, the people you love, the nation you are creating.

The ingredients are there. You are the only one who can put them together in the unique pattern that will be your life. Do it with your eyes open and remember this self, sitting there, so you can remind your future self about the lines you draw now.

I made a vow to myself a long time ago when I was sitting where you are now: I would never say or do anything I didn’t believe in. I maintain a healthy distrust of herd mentality. I’ve kept those vows to my younger self, and everytime I face a difficult choice, I remember the lines I’ve drawn.

I think this is why I can stand before you at nearly half a century old and tell you it’s possible to live your ideals. You do not have to compromise.

Take a stand and change the world. We’re counting on you.

GRABBED AT: Rappler.com
Maria A. Ressa delivered this speech at the 84th commencement exercises of the Far Eastern University, Manila, on April 18, 2012.

* * * * *

This speech was just so brilliant in so many ways I don’t even know where to start! Miss Maria Ressa, I salute!

Here are my favorite parts:
•Meaning is not something you stumble across nor what someone gives you. You build it through every choice you make, through the commitments you choose, the people you love, and the values you live by. For me, it begins with the choice to learn. Learn all the time. Learn all your life.

•Learn from your successes, but more importantly, learn from your failures.

• I put in my 10,000 hours – that’s the amount of time Malcolm Gladwell said it takes to become an expert at anything. That’s the point when you start to create – when it fully becomes you.

•It all began with that moment of failure.

•I wish you the courage to fail – because success and failure are two sides of the same coin. You cannot succeed if at some point you haven’t failed. I’m not the first to say this, but I can tell you I’ve proven it first-hand. You can’t accomplish anything important if you don’t take risks. And you won’t risk if you’re afraid to fail. So “fail fast. Fail forward. Fail better.”

•I’ve learned my greatest enemies are boredom and complacency. When I stop learning or I feel like I’m on auto-pilot, I know it’s time to move on.

•I learned people will try to coerce, manipulate, intimidate or threaten you to get what they want. Often, they have a lot at stake, big money, sometimes their lives. And you have to be clear about what you’re afraid of because those are buttons they will push.

•Even when I was younger, I felt that I gave fear too much power, and in the process, it begins to define you. So I thought – well, what’s the worst thing that can go wrong? I’ll fail? Remember what I said about failure. Seek it out. Remember the phrase: what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger? It worked for me. What doesn’t kill me will make me stronger.

•That’s why I believe it’s so much better to confront your fear than it is to run away from it – because when you face it, you have the chance to conquer it. In doing that, you define who you are.

•I’ve learned that the worst fears are not what other people can do to you. What’s harder is when you are alone and answer the tough questions of every day life: What do you stand for? What do you believe in? How far will you go to stand up for what you believe?

•This is your moment to draw your lines. There are some simple truths. The more you say no, the easier it becomes. The more you do the right thing, the harder it is to do the wrong thing. It’s a tipping point approach to building your identity.

•I had drawn the line clearly, and I knew that accepting that money would make me a fundamentally different person. On this side of the line, I’m good. On the other side, I’m evil. On this side, I’m clean. On that side, I’m corrupt. It’s that simple.

•Remember that evil people don’t think they’re evil, and corrupt people don’t think they’re corrupt. Corruption is endemic in our country because people rationalize it. They split hairs about definitions. It takes all of us to keep it that way or to change it. The only way it will change is if more of us take a stand against it and refuse to tolerate it.

•This is the time to define your ideals because it only gets murkier the older you get. People will tell you “you’re naïve.” They’ll say “it’s the way things are done.” Don’t believe it when people say that. The choice is always yours. Choose to do better.

•Take responsibility for the world you are creating.

•You build meaning by choosing what you commit to: whether it’s a cause, a religion, an ethical order, the people you love, the nation you are creating.

•The ingredients are there. You are the only one who can put them together in the unique pattern that will be your life. Do it with your eyes open and remember this self, sitting there, so you can remind your future self about the lines you draw now.

•I think this is why I can stand before you at nearly half a century old and tell you it’s possible to live your ideals. You do not have to compromise.

•Take a stand and change the world. We’re counting on you.

What speech could someone have ever asked for than this? Sincere, genuine, and outright. Thanks Miss Ressa, this is an inspiration! :)