Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Eight Hundred

This is probably the last photograph I took of my pocket NASB Bible, at the Nipah Bay Villa in Pangkor.

On the morning of 24 January, as I was packing my bag for the trip to Pulau Ketam, I could not find my Bible. I could not recall where I'd last seen it, and over the days that followed I could not locate it either in college or at home.

It is, as far as my search is concerned, lost.

Those of you who have seen that Bible know just how special it is, and how much it meant to me. I acquired it near Christmas 2001, spotting it on a shelf in the Section 14 Glad Sounds, back when it was in Cold Storage.

Over the years, it brought me through practically everything. From SUFES camps to National Service, from being a daily part of my school bag to accompanying me on field trips. It was so small that I almost never travelled anywhere without it.

This was also the Bible that went to all those d'NA reunions and trips across the country.

What made me extremely sad about losing the Bible, however, was the fact that in the few days and weeks preceding its disappearance, my quiet time was terribly out of joint. Losing the Bible was almost as if God were saying, "If you don't read it, you will lose it."

One of those throwing pearls to swine analogies.

Earlier today, I picked up a new Bible from SUFES. A pocket ESV (English Standard Version), because it is not a common translation, firstly, and also because it is quite small and even has a concordance.

I also picked up a copy of the March/April 2010 edition of Every Day with Jesus, the devotional guide that used to be written by Selwyn Hughes until his death in 2006. It still draws upon material from his writings and lectures. I haven't used a devotional guide in ages, and I think my Bible reading is in want of some structure.

I am determined this time not to allow God's Word to sit on my shelf and collect dust.

Maybe because it's Lent. And maybe because Lent is a time to try again.

* * *

Excerpt from T.S. Eliot's 'Ash Wednesday'

Because I do not hope to turn again
Because I do not hope
Because I do not hope to turn
Desiring this man's gift and that man's scope
I no longer strive to strive towards such things
(Why should the ag├Ęd eagle stretch its wings?)
Why should I mourn
The vanished power of the usual reign?

And pray to God to have mercy upon us
And pray that I may forget
These matters that with myself I too much discuss
Too much explain
Because I do not hope to turn again
Let these words answer
For what is done, not to be done again
May the judgement not be too heavy upon us

Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death
Pray for us now and at the hour of our death.

* * *

Today is also Mrs Chang's 53rd birthday.

When it comes to trying again, I will never forget those later years with her. I started learning the piano when I was five, and stopped for a while when I was ten. Apparently it was because of a particular scale I hated.

Two years later, in the middle of Standard Six, I resumed piano lessons with her. At that time I'd decided not to take the graded exams, but just learn for the fun of it. Eventually, when I was 14 I sat my first exam in five years.

It was in 2003, when I was 16, that everything changed. I paid my first visit to the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra (MPO) with Ming-Shien (also a former student of Mrs Chang's) and my mother. From then on I was a frequent presence at MPO concerts, and they inspired, to no end, a teenager who barely knew what he was doing with the piano.

I learned to appreciate music and the history of its development, developing a taste for Baroque and Modern music alike, and a disdain for the Classical school (I think the wigs had something to do with it). The next three years were an intense time of translating all that input into my writing and playing, and I capped my music studies with a Merit in Grade 8 Practical (ABRSM) and a Distinction in Grade 8 Theory (Trinity).

But it really wasn't about those grades. What I value most about the 14 years I spent, on and off, with Mrs Chang is the fact that, for one, I gained an invaluable friend in her; and acquired an appreciation of music and its endless riches.

So it's really never too late to learn, never too late to try again.

* * *

(This is the 800th post.)


siedne said...

Happy 800th! Lovely commemorating entry :)

Anonymous said...

Hellooo Ben; what are the chances!! I randomly decided to visit your blog today and the first thing I saw was this post :) Ah waves of nostalgia.. I miss the days at No. 17 too :( just sent off a multi-coloured birthday email to our dearest piano teacher! How have you been? I haven't seen you in ages! Must set a date to take Mrs. C out for tea in June when I get back!


nylus said...

PS. That is a truly awful picture of me