Sunday, October 15, 2006

Short Entries

Just a string of short entries. Dinner is calling and I probably won't be blogging for quite a while. STPM is just around the corner.

According to Bono, the 'J33-3' printed on the cover of U2's All That You Can't Leave Behind is a reference to God's words in Jeremiah 33:3;

"Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know." (NIV)

"It's known as God's phone number," he said.

It would be pretty interesting if someone could invent a word processor that could translate the spoken word into written text. That way, I could speak my essays into existence, rather than type them out.

But I suppose I still like pen and paper. So even if I give up on Microsoft Word, I can return to ink.

Visit SimianD's blog to see a picture of how ink and software could be fused or hybridised.

The Alumni Association of the University of Malaya and the National University of Singapore (they share one alumni association for medicine, dentistry and pharmacy) published a book called From the Alumni Perspective last year to commemmorate the centenary of the King Edward VII Medical College (or was it King Edward VIII?), the institution from which the two universities above were derived.

Dr A. Canaganayagam, in his write-up on Old VI Boy and former Malaysian Director-General of Health, Tan Sri Dato Dr Haji Abdul Majid bin Ismail, wrote;

"[In the VI,] Students were thrown into the deep end and learnt "crutches" to prop-up the weak."

I was struck by the phrase, 'deep end'. Earlier this year, I realised that Miss Shanti had thrown me into the deep end of the ISKL SEA Forensics Tournament, by enlisting me as an extemper. Because of that, I learnt so much and developed critically and constructively the organ I call my brain.

It also came as a pleasant surprise to note that the administration of polio and tuberculosis (BCG) vaccines in schools (to all students in Standard 1 and Standard 6 respectively) was introduced by two VI boys. Polio by Dr Haji Abdul Majid, and BCG by Dr Jeswant Singh Sodhi.

Amaranth, a colour discussed in the Chemistry chromatography experiment, is a shade of purple, though not necessarily the shade of purple in the line above.

I also discovered in the Oxford Dictionary, that the word is also used to describe flowers of the genus Amaranthus.

It is derived from the Greek word amarantos, which means 'everlasting'.

"We are members of one body, but differentiated members, each with his own vocation. A man's upbringing, his talents, his circumstances, are usually a tolerable index of his vocation. If our parents have sent us to Oxford, if our country allows us to remain there, this is prima facie evidence that the life which we, at any rate, can best lead to the glory of God at present is the learned life."

--C.S. Lewis, 'Learning in War-Time'

And if you will, I will
Try to let it go
And if you try, I'll try
Try to let it show us the way
'Cause love is here to stay
Just look me in the eye
This is do or die
And I will stay in love
'Till you say enough
There is no giving in
There is no giving up in love.

--chorus of Jewel's 'Again and Again'

There is no giving up in love.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


Valerie says suicide is the action of stupid cowards.

I lay on the cricket pitch in the middle of the school field yesterday. Many students stared at me from the Form Six block, and some from the road leading in from the main gate. Eventually, the guard and Mr Yusoff came up to me. Mr Yusoff spoke.

"Orang tak waras saja yang buat macam ni."
"Saya memang..."
"Apa? Awak tak waras?... Nak tidur, balik rumah. Pergi, balik kelas. Tak nak balik kelas, balik rumah."
"Kalau macam itu, saya balik rumah."

I ended up staying in school. I just wanted to be alone.

It was really something, standing in the rain the day before yesterday.

* * * * *

This was the Every Day with Jesus reading yesterday. The words would not let me go. Paul, in writing to the Colossians, was describing what the Christian life ought to be like. I realise that, as time passes, I am slipping away from this description.

I know these words to be true. But is this period of confusion just a phase, or something that will shape me for life?

(It's a long passage, but one that's definitely worth reading, especially if you've never read it before. I know you want to scroll down, but trust me on this; read it.)

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

--Colossians 3:1-17 (NIV)

For today's devotion, Selwyn wrote:

If you have any doubt about the power of love to outlast everything, take a look at history. The men and women of hate have gone down like ninepins... Jesus, the Man of Love, has remained unaffected by every assault and tempest, and emerges at this point in time as unequalled.

I asked Li-Shia yesterday, "When does history ever remember the good guys?"

Today, these words reminded me of what I have so blindly missed all this while. It is as Max Lucado wrote: The cross leaves no room for neutrality; you can do anything to it but ignore it.

Jesus stopped me in my frenzied run.

* * * * *

Two people with very similar initials, C.L.S. and C.S.L. respectively. Both irrevocably shaped the path my life would take, bringing me to where I am now.

Li-Shia once asked me, "What happened to the simple things that made you happy?"

I think I could be happy then because I wasn't completely human. But being close and emotionally bound to a person makes you vulnerable; thaws the iciest of hearts; warms the coldest soul; makes a human out of a reptile.

In many ways, I am more human now than ever before. And humans are insatiable. They are not like the angels who need nothing material.

C.S. Lewis offers a sympathetic view of humanity in his poem, Angel's Song.

I know not, I,
What the men together say,
How lovers, lovers die
And youth passes away.

Cannot understand
Love that mortal bears
To native, native land,
All lands are theirs;

Why at grave they grieve
For one voice and face,
And not, and not receive
Another in its place.

I above the cone
Of the circling night
Flying, never have known
Less or greater light.

Sorrow it is they call
This cup whence my lip
(Woe's me!) never in all
My endless days can sip.

How true is the second stanza! All lands are ours, yet why do I feel patriotic?

And could it be that the angels long to taste our sorrow?

* * * * *

by Jars of Clay

Convinced of my deception
I've always been a fool
I fear this love reaction
Just like you said I would
A rose could never lie
About the love it brings
And I could never promise
To be any of those things

If I was not so weak
If I was not so cold
If I was not so scared of being broken
Growing old
I would be
I would be

Blessed are the shallow
Depth they'll never find
Seems to be some comfort
In rooms I try to hide
Exposed beyond the shadows
You take the cup from me
Your dirt removes my blindness
Your pain becomes my peace


I would be
I would be

I sang the chorus of this song again and again while lying in the field. And I thought of T.S. Eliot's words in 'East Coker';

"In that open field
If you do not come too close, if you do not come too close..."

In my previous entry, I wrote that pain is the way to cure a hurt. I now know that to be true. But the pain is not to be ours.

The last lines of the second verse, "Your pain becomes my peace", drove a hard-hitting point home to me: although we all suffer, and sometimes even want to suffer, the challenge is to let Jesus suffer for us. We can only take so much, but he took it all.

Will we be able to say, as Paul did, "Your grace is sufficient for me"?

* * * * *

Dear Li-Shia, I'm so sorry for the last few days, and especially what I did this morning. God was calling, but I wasn't listening.

I kept asking, what should I do with all these pent-up emotions? Again and again I saw the cross before me -- the cross that calls to all of us, saying, "You can leave all your burdens here. You cannot carry them, but I can."

I just didn't want to yield, to surrender.

Often our problems are beyond each other's help, beyond even the reach of human ability. In such moments, let's drive each other to the One who knows best.

You may not like the song, but the words are true: sometimes you can't make it on your own.

Thanks for standing by me. =*

Monday, October 09, 2006


by Evanescence

I tried to kill the pain
But only brought more
I lay dying
And I'm pouring crimson regret and betrayal
I'm dying, praying, bleeding and screaming
Am i too lost to be saved
Am i too lost?

My God, my tourniquet
Return to me salvation
My God, my tourniquet
Return to me salvation

Do you remember me
Lost for so long
Will you be on the other side
Or will you forget me
I'm dying, praying, bleeding and screaming
Am i too lost to be saved
Am i too lost?

My God, my tourniquet
Return to me salvation
My God, my tourniquet
Return to me salvation

My wounds cry for the grave
My soul cries for deliverance
Will I be denied Christ
My suicide

* * * * *

Water and fire succeed
The town, the pasture and the weed.
Water and fire deride
The sacrifice that we denied.
Water and fire shall rot
The marred foundations we forgot,
Of sanctuary and choir.
This is the death of water and fire.

--from T.S. Eliot's 'Little Gidding', Stave II

* * * * *

Standing in the rain today in school, some thoughts came to me. I've expanded them a little;

Is rain like God's tears
Washing away the grief
Of haze and dust,
The smoke of sin and fears?
Turning over a new leaf,
Choosing love not lust,

Sometimes when people are hurt, they turn to certain substances for comfort, such as chocolate or marijuana. But I think pleasure is not the way to cure a hurt.

Pain is.

There are some echoes of this in Eliot's poem 'East Coker', Stave IV;

The chill ascends from feet to knees,
The fever sings in mental wires.
If to be warmed, then I must freeze
And quake in frigid purgatorial fires
Of which the flame is roses, and the smoke is briars.

* * * * *

Today's poem is interesting.

Bloated Haiku
by Elizabeth Spires

Minnow, abandon your nibbling illusions. Stop preying on tiny
Imaginations. Swell and grow into the pond's overlord, a fat fish
silently devouring all. Release us from the tyranny of the small! defines 'minnow' as, among others:

-> any other fish of the family Cyprinidae, including the carps, goldfishes, and daces.

-> a person or thing that is comparatively small or insignificant.

* * * * *

There is still some grace at work. This is today's Every Day with Jesus Scripture, which I read at home after school.

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us.

--1 John 4:18-19

I am fearful. Therefore it must be that I have not been made perfect in love.

Selwyn Hughes wrote that our worth is in God, for He gives meaning to us through His love. Our purpose is to show this love to others. The lie is that we must love ourselves before we love others or God. The truth of the matter is in fact the reverse: we must allow God to love us, before we can love either others or ourselves.

I believe this. I just don't know how to live it.

Yet the grace of God is still at work somehow.

I don't know how, nor will I ever know, I think.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

An open letter to S.B.Y.

Somewhere in Kuala Lumpur. 7:14 p.m., 8 October 2006.

Somewhere else in Kuala Lumpur. 7:16 p.m., 8 October 2006.

* * * * *

Dear President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia,

I wonder if you think the haze is a joke.

Apparently, you are one of the favourites to win this year's Nobel Peace Prize, for your role in creating peace in Aceh. At least, that's what it says here.

At any rate, you'll never win the Greenpeace Prize (if ever there is such a thing). Your farmers (and farm directors/owners/managers, for that matter) are turning blue skies grey, and setting green fields ablaze with a deep orange glow.

Is Indonesia so poor that the government cannot provide these farmers with paper and colour pencils or crayons, so that they can play around with colours? Surely the real sky and land should remain the colour God created it.

Let me show you:

This is the colour of the sky.
This is Indonesia's idea of sky.

This is the colour of land.
This is Indonesia's idea of land.

Just in case politics is getting in the way, let me assure and remind you that the atmosphere knows no human boundaries. Whatever you release into your air, gets carried over to Malaysia, Singapore and the surrounding region. You can draw terrestrial and aquatic bounderies, but unfortunately no one tells dust particles which way to go.

It might have been fun last year, giving us the impression that Genting Highlands had suddenly come to visit the lowlands. It sure looked like cool mist, except it was neither cool to the skin, nor pleasing to the eye.

But this time around, your farmers have gone too far. Fernando Alonso seems poised to win a back-to-back World Championship title in Formula One. Is Indonesia trying to win a back-to-back record for air pollution? Well, here's the news: you've already won!

Perhaps the governments of Malaysia and Singapore aren't launching a direct attack on Indonesia's government, for diplomatic reasons. I don't know. But what I do know is this: while the governments are wasting their time, the people are coughing and choking.

How would you like the Greenpeace activists to stop releasing artificial smoke outside Indonesian government offices, and start using poison gas instead? Perhaps that would be an interesting new way to buka puasa.

Speaking of buka puasa, you would do well to remember that Muslims are not even permitted to drink during the fasting month of Ramadan. It would therefore be very helpful to maintain good air quality so as not to cause stress to the respiratory systems of people in both your country and ours.

Indonesia is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, and area known for volcanoes and earthquake fault lines. Who would've ever guessed that the forest fires of Sumatra and Kalimantan would further consolidate Indonesia's position in this Ring of Fire?

Well, I can't stay long here. I have better things to do than spend the whole night levelling criticisms at the leader of a country. But just because Indonesia is big, doesn't mean there's lots of air space for open burning.

In case your jakun farmers still have some burning need to see fire and smoke, we would like to invite them to come and join our Hari Raya and Deepavali celebrations.

As you may know, Deepavali is the Fesival of Lights, and there'll be fire in oil lamps. As for smoke, I'm sure the fumes from satay and char kuay teow stalls will do a good job of whetting your appetites and providing a friendly environment for much camaraderie amongst your people and ours.

Thank you for your time. I hope I can also thank you for your concern.


A suffocating neighbour

On Mooncakes, Forgiveness and Waiting

I enjoyed these mooncakes from the Hotel Equatorial; top is something called Mid-Autumn Special (no idea what the green part is made of) and the one at the bottom is a Tiramisu.

They included this write-up in the mooncake gift packages:

The mooncake, a customary gift during the Mid-Autumn Festival, made its first appearance in Chinese history during the Yuan Dynasty.

For almost a century, the people of China had suffered dire times under oppressive Mongol rule. Until the mooncake came to the rescue.

In 1368, in an effort to overthrow the Mongols, the Chinese baked hundreds of little moon-shaped cakes during the Mid-Autumn festival. However they contained an altogether different filling from the leng yong or tau sar enjoyed today. Inside were messages that were secretly circulated among family and friends, inciting them to join an impending rebellion.

Dismissing the innocent looking mooncakes as part of the festivities, the Mongols were taken completely by surprise by a well-planned rebellion. And the infamous Mongol Yuan Dynasty came to a humiliating end.

Every Mid-Autumn festival since, mooncakes have been exchanged and enjoyed to mark the occasion.

So... it was a conspiracy.

Perhaps FES was already active in 14th-century China. ;-)

* * * * *

Over the last few days, the Every Day with Jesus readings have been focused on the idea of relationships, with special emphasis on the relationship between the three Persons of the Trinity; Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

I recalled these words spoken by Jesus;

"Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father... Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.

--John 14:9-10 (NIV)

The Trinity is a difficult concept to grasp, but it wasn't the theology that gripped me this time, but a realisation that at the end of this life, it's not how much we know or have done that counts. The question is, do we know God? Do we know God?

Have we spent our lives seeking for Him? Have we devoted our days to learning from Him, not just about Him? Will heaven be a homecoming, or a holiday to some foreign place?

King Solomon asked this question, once he had finished the construction of the Temple;

"But will God really dwell on earth with men?"

--2 Chronicles 6:18 (NIV)

And the apostle John answered it;

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

--John 1:14 (NIV)

God became flesh and made His dwelling among humans. God is relational, not a Zeus who sits atop a Mount Olympus, or some grandfatherly figure languishing on the borders of the universe, but a God who desires to be with His people.

These were the words recorded by Jeremiah the prophet;

"This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel
after that time," declares the LORD.

"I will put my law in their minds
and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.

No longer will a man teach his neighbor,
or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,'
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest,"
declares the LORD.

"For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more."

--Jeremiah 31:33-34 (NIV)

These words stopped me in my tracks. Actually, it was in reading these words than I searched the Scriptures for the other excerpts above. Saturday's devotion reading was on Hebrews 8:1-13, which quotes this portion of Jeremiah.

I was convicted of my sin. Just the day before, I was falling again into depths I thought I'd escaped from. But God stopped me on Saturday morning with these words.

He reminded me that my sins were forgiven; why then did I choose to fall back into sin? Above all, He reminded me that He is my God, and I wasn't carrying myself like a son of God ought to.

Father, forgive me.

* * * * *

There was some sort of domino effect yesterday.

My brother and I spent a long time singing/listening to various songs, including Elvis's 'Suspicious Minds' and 'Burning Love', the Scorpions' 'Wind of Change', and songs from Disney's Tarzan soundtrack. Incredibly, I can still remember the lyrics of most of the Tarzan songs, written by Phil Collins!

Dad, Kevin and I were supposed to go and watch Rob-B-Hood (an entertaining movie indeed!) at 6pm. I wanted to get a haircut before that, as I needed to take a passport-sized photo for university applications. So we were to leave the house at 4.30.

At about 3.40, I called a friend, who said she'd call back in a short while.

I waited and waited, and must've dozed off by 4.00. Woke up at 4.30; still no call. Prepared to leave the house, and then the call came. Too late.

My stomach started aching since I woke up. Must be a combination of two things: too much singing (I get stomach aches when I open my mouth too much), and the fact that I slept in a not-too-good position. Thing is, I wasn't supposed to sleep, but the call came late. It's something like falling asleep while doing chin-ups. Your body is bound to ache when you get up, simply because you weren't meant to sleep.

Then later, at the hairdresser's, I waited and waited, but Aunty Florence was too busy curling someone's hair, and anymore waiting would make us late for the movie. Not her fault. At 4.30 she was free, but I came later due to the stomach ache; had to rest awhile at home first. So we postponed and I only got my haircut today.

Seems every event yesterday somehow affected every other event.

* * * * *

The more I think about it, the more I'm convinced Denise is right.

Perhaps I am a dinosaur. An ancient relic in a modern world. A fish meant to fly.

Can God use this sinner of a dinosaur?

I pray so.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Hazy days, lazy days...

We were somewhat bored in class today, so we played hangman. Suzanne, Wai Loon, Kian Ti, Phon, Tsu Wern, Fiona, Chun Hong, Kah Loong and me. And at recess, almost the whole of Upper Six was in the canteen, except, of course, the Arts students who were sitting for their Business paper.

This was taken yesterday in Pudu, near my grandmother's eye specialist's clinic. It occurred to me that the mamak are really a distinct element of 'Malaysia'. If any one group of people exemplify the spirit of Malaysia boleh, it would be the mamak.

Ice-blended fruity desserts? Boleh.
Almost any variation of roti canai? Boleh.
Custom-made drinks? Boleh.

And all for an affordable price (usually). What would Malaysia be without the mamak?

Somewhere near the beginning of his career, someone asked Elvis who he thought he sounded like. Elvis replied, "I don't sound like nobody."

The truth of this statement hit home yesterday, when I tried singing a few of his songs softly in class, before the Maths test. He really developed such a unique approach to his songs that the fast ones require a lot of confidence and charisma, and the slow-tempo ones tend to be emotionally-draining.

His slower songs, like 'In the Ghetto' and 'Suspicious Minds' are within a very singable vocal range (compared to some of his other hits), but they demand a lot emotionally, typical of his later songs, which demonstrated a remarkable degree of maturity and profundity.

As Bono might say, the music of Elvis is anything but 'wallpaper music'; a term he used to describe much of the prevalent music at the time U2's album War came out, in 1983.

U2's autobiography, U2byU2 is out! I saw it in Kinokuniya, retailing at RM169.90. There's a 20% discount (with purchase of another item of any value), but I don't know how long the offer will last. This is one book I definitely wanna get!

And word is out that they're releasing a compilation album in November, containing 16 of their most famous songs, plus two new recordings.

Sometimes, getting to know a person will open up a world you never knew before.

I tend to be an outlier (Denise and Valerie are right, I'm inclined to think), but the world of normal life, human life, seems to beckon. Am I losing what makes me who I am, just to be human?

Does this make me sound remotely Martian? Maybe not, but over the last two years, everything from National Service through Form Six, has only further reinforced that which has characterised my life ever since I knew it: the notion that I'm a weird person, a square peg in a round hole, a big fish in a small pond, a fish meant for dry land.

Perhaps it is present in everyone, but this trait seems to be amplified in some people more than others. A good number of my friends are even weirder than me; you know who you are!

Maybe, just maybe, there's some truth to that ugly duckling story...

I decided to treat myself to a CD yesterday, to 'celebrate' the end of the STPM trial exam, although for me, the trials are not quite over yet. I missed some papers last week, and will have to do them next week.

Anyway, it was down to either Michael Jackson's Number Ones, Evanescence's The Open Door or Shostakovich's 11th Symphony. Li-Shia suggested Shostakovich, and I reasoned that it's harder to find Shostakovich CDs than MJ's or Evanescence's; so I can always get the others some other time.

Haven't listened to it yet, but I plan to do so this weekend.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Sivin's 34th... and some thoughts on Eliot

Happy 34th Birthday, Sivin!

A sampling of the food at the Bangsar Lutheran Church (a.k.a. The Father's House) today. There were roti canai, yow char kwai, egg sandwiches and kerepek pisang to name a few. Of course, being a birthday celebration of sorts, there were two cakes: chocolate and carrot. Yum yum!

Meet the male skirt-wearer himself: Soo Tian! This time around, he mixed some of the longan herbal drink (in the pot) with Ribena (in the plastic dispenser). And Denise, you thought I was weird...

Of course, it was wonderful to meet up with the Halames. From left; Mynn, Halame, Wan Ching and baby Zjern.

* * * * *

Paul, a young minister whom Sivin met recently at the Lausanne Conference at Port Dickson, preached at The Father's House this morning. He hails from Bangalore in southern India, but has been resident in the United Kingdom for a while.

He spoke on the clash between tradition and the necessity of life, preaching from Matthew 12:1-14. I'd like to share a story he told towards the end of his sermon:

The year is 1992. An Australian missionary couple works with lepers in India. Now it must be understood that the caste system is still very much the dominant societal framework in the country. There are four castes, and a special group of people so lowly that they are outside the caste; they are, literally, 'outcasts'. But the lepers are below even these outcasts, and have special territories marked out for them: that's how low they are.

Obviously, the Hindus/Indians weren't happy with the work the missionaries were doing, having contact with the lepers and all. So one night, when the husband was driving his sons (aged seven and nine) in their Jeep outside the village, some of the Indians set the Jeep on fire, and stood guard so they couldn't escape. His wife, Gladys, and daughter, were in the lepers' village.

The moral of the story: choosing life over tradition is costly business. Jesus chose life; it cost him his. If we choose to lead the life that is truly life, it will cost us everything we have as well. Are we ready?

I tell you that one greater than the temple is here. If you had known what these words mean, 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the innocent. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath."

Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, they asked him, "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?"

He said to them, "If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a man than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath."

Then he said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other. But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus.

--Matthew 12:6-14 (NIV)

Another question: are we in the habit of dedicating at least a day each week to God, a day to spend time with the Lord of the Sabbath?

* * * * *

Soo Tian told me recently that he's studying T.S. Eliot's poem 'The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock' as part of his ICPU (International Canadian Pre-U) course.

This is one of those poems whose opening lines really jump at you:

Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a petient etherized upon a table...

Of course, it doesn't jump at everyone, at least not always in a friendly way. C.S. Lewis wrote these words in his poem 'A Confession':

I am so coarse, the things the poets see
Are obstinately invisible to me.
For twenty years I've stared my level best
To see if evening -- any evening -- would suggest
A patient etherized upon a table;
In vain. I simply wasn't able.

But reading Eliot's poem this time around brought another portion of the piece to my attention. Some two-fifths into the poem, I stumbled upon these four powerful lines that kept repeating themselves in my head over the last 24 hours:

Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

"Do I dare disturb the universe?" These words are painted on a wall in one of the classrooms in the ISKL (International School of Kuala Lumpur).

There's something resonant about those lines, something typical of Eliot...