It is about 11.00 a.m. now, and I have just been born. Twenty years ago.
Dad was walking Knight the Dobermann and Mum's childhood nanny was massaging her. Next thing they knew, he was rushing them to the hospital. It was an easy first birth by most standards, and I was out in no more than four hours.
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Thank you one and all for your SMSes and well-wishes.
A BIG thank you to my friends at 3rd College for a memorable countdown supper at Sahur. Here's hoping we won't get blacklisted for weird drinks and rowdy behaviour anytime soon. [Note to d'NAers: imagine the Putrajaya Lake Club dinner reenacted...]
Yen: despite the physical and temporal barriers that separate us, thanks so much for making the effort to come.
Li-Shia: what can I say? 317 and counting! =:)
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I have decided to title this entry 'Magnum Opus' (Latin for 'great work', which usually refers to the best achievement of an artist) because reflecting on twenty years, I find myself in the midst of the Master's great work. And I am myself part of it.
[God] who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
--Philippians 1:6 (NIV)
And also because what follows below is my photographic Magnum Opus (so far, that is).
While in Mersing, I wondered if it would be possible to theme the photos I would be taking. Better phrased, I wondered what it would be like to take photos with a specific theme in mind. Being a person easily and almost always awed by God's creation, I immediately thought of the grand Psalm 104.
That was on the second day, during quiet time before we left for Rawa. The photos I have selected are supposed to reflect the respective verses they accompany. Note, the photos accompany the verses, NOT vice versa; I did not find verses to append to my photos, but rather sought out pictures to express the verses.
This also may finally explain to those in Mich's car on the last day (i.e. Alissa, Teeming, SooT and of course, Mich herself) why I was so excited to see the bird when it landed on the bare tree, and why I was so grateful to get a shot of it, after which it immediately flew away. Visible birds on branches (i.e. not hidden amidst the leaves) were scarce in Mersing; it was a blessing to find one in Kluang.
From a technical point of view, I used all three lenses: 50mm for most of the shots; the wide-angle 18-55mm for some of the more creative, adventurous pieces; and the telephoto 55-200mm for, among others, that memorable bird picture. And I also used a waterproof disposable camera for a number of shots on Rawa.
But beyond all technicalities, I take photos to express ideas and emotions. It was a pleasure and challenge to let God's Word be that central idea in Mersing, and I must say it was a very, very rewarding endeavour.
While in Penang, someone (I think it was Greg Yang) said that the difference between a professional and an amateur photographer is that the pro is often more consistent at producing good photos while the amateur may have a great shot once in a while.
Mersing was a great experience, but while it represents the best of my abilities thus far, I think most of it is a vision of what I may aspire to in time to come. Firstfruits of a coming era of much better photos. This is one of the reasons why I enjoyed Mersing so much, and why it will more likely than not remain the holiday, and a benchmark for my photography.
I hope you will enjoy viewing the pictures as much as I enjoyed making them. Perhaps I will explain each in detail someday, and tell why they each mean so much to me. But for today, I shall not get in the way of the Word that first inspired me and gave me the courage and strength to see the 'mission' through.
To the d'NAers, may this 'gallery' rekindle some memories and spur us on in constant devotion to our Master and to one another, even as we grow old together and blow out many more candles and eat many more cakes! It was, after all, a birthday trip to begin with... ;-)
If there is one wish I would like to make today, it is that I may always keep God's Word central in my life, and let it be the driving force in everything I do. And then maybe many years later I will be able to look back and say that it was very challenging, but also very rewarding.
To God be all the glory. Amen.
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A word on the last two pictures:
While working on the post, I might have accidentally deleted the ones I'd saved in the draft. Thankfully I have a copy of the last picture on my 1GB SD card which I've been carrying around with me, and an alternative for the second-last picture also on the same card. It was not the angle I originally had in mind, but now I think it probably works better!
And it is also good that there is Powerpoint on this computer so I could 'sign' my name on them.
All verses from the New American Standard Bible.
Psalm 104 with photos by Benjamin Ong
1 Bless the LORD, O my soul!
O LORD my God, You are very great;
You are clothed with splendor and majesty,
2 Covering Yourself with light as with a cloak,
Stretching out heaven like a tent curtain.
3 He lays the beams of His upper chambers in the waters;
He makes the clouds His chariot;
He walks upon the wings of the wind;
4 He makes the winds His messengers,
Flaming fire His ministers.
5 He established the earth upon its foundations,
So that it will not totter forever and ever.
6 You covered it with the deep as with a garment;
The waters were standing above the mountains.
7 At Your rebuke they fled,
At the sound of Your thunder they hurried away.
8 The mountains rose; the valleys sank down
To the place which You established for them.
9 You set a boundary that they may not pass over,
So that they will not return to cover the earth.
10 He sends forth springs in the valleys;
They flow between the mountains;
11 They give drink to every beast of the field;
The wild donkeys quench their thirst.
12 Beside them the birds of the heavens dwell;
They lift up their voices among the branches.
13 He waters the mountains from His upper chambers;
The earth is satisfied with the fruit of His works.
14 He causes the grass to grow for the cattle,
And vegetation for the labor of man,
So that he may bring forth food from the earth,
15 And wine which makes man's heart glad,
So that he may make his face glisten with oil,
And food which sustains man's heart.
16 The trees of the LORD drink their fill,
The cedars of Lebanon which He planted,
17 Where the birds build their nests,
And the stork, whose home is the fir trees.
18 The high mountains are for the wild goats;
The cliffs are a refuge for the shephanim.
19 He made the moon for the seasons;
The sun knows the place of its setting.
20 You appoint darkness and it becomes night,
In which all the beasts of the forest prowl about.
21 The young lions roar after their prey
And seek their food from God.
22 When the sun rises they withdraw
And lie down in their dens.
23 Man goes forth to his work
And to his labor until evening.
24 O LORD, how many are Your works!
In wisdom You have made them all;
The earth is full of Your possessions.
25 There is the sea, great and broad,
In which are swarms without number,
Animals both small and great.
26 There the ships move along,
And Leviathan, which You have formed to sport in it.
27 They all wait for You
To give them their food in due season.
28 You give to them, they gather it up;
You open Your hand, they are satisfied with good.
29 You hide Your face, they are dismayed;
You take away their spirit, they expire
And return to their dust.
30 You send forth Your Spirit, they are created;
And You renew the face of the ground.
31 Let the glory of the LORD endure forever;
Let the LORD be glad in His works;
32 He looks at the earth, and it trembles;
He touches the mountains, and they smoke.
33 I will sing to the LORD as long as I live;
I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.
34 Let my meditation be pleasing to Him;
As for me, I shall be glad in the LORD.
35 Let sinners be consumed from the earth
And let the wicked be no more
Bless the LORD, O my soul
Praise the LORD!