Monday, August 10, 2015

300 - looking back with gratitude.

It is with a strange admixture of gratitude and trepidation that I write this blog entry this week.  Yes, it is a milestone of sorts – my 300th blog entry after having written assiduously for almost 6 years, every Monday morning, save for perhaps three or four entries.  I do not have any bloggers’ similar experiences to compare with, as I am not a regular reader or subscriber to any particular blog writer, except maybe for Fr Ronald Rolheiser’s weekly blog which I often glean some inspiration from.  But he is a real writer – one who is not only published, but has also done it many times over with resounding success.  So, much of what I am about to share about this experience is something that comes from a personal and honest point of view. 


When I started this blog in August of 2009, I had no preconceived thought-out plan about how long it would last, and how deeply I would take my readers (if I had any).  It was very out of character for me, one who is far more accustomed to doing things with a clear cut blueprint, replete with plan Bs in case anything would no go according to plan.  It was a proverbial leap into the unknown, and when it began, I delighted in being able to use a medium which allowed me the opportunities to expand my reflections on life and see them through the lens of Sacred Scripture and Church teachings.  I purposefully did not want to be hemmed in by the Liturgical readings at Sunday’s Eucharistic celebrations because it would too easily narrow my horizon before me.  I took circumstances from life itself, and looking back at some of my earlier reflections, I smile quietly to myself that I was even willing to let simple things like slogans seen on a T-Shirt or a TV screen on a gym treadmill to be a segue to a reflection on how God can be speaking to us about life.

I don’t like to pat myself on my back.  It’s just bad taste and form on so many levels.  Perhaps that was why it was rather difficult to tell my readers last week that today may be the last entry of Reflections and Ruminations.  I wondered if it would be out of character for me to just fade into the silence of a blog page that no longer had any new entries, and let it die a somewhat natural death.  I wondered if blogs that ‘die’ this way go into some kind of blog cemetery in cyber-space.  No fanfare, no farewell.  Just a sudden and silent non-existence.

But I realized this would not give any sort of closure – not to my readers, and not to myself.  I needed some sort of assurance that this was not an action that was going to be met with disappointment or disagreement with whoever reads my musings.  I asked for prayers to make the right decision, and I received more than prayers.  I received almost 30 comments to the blog which I chose not to post because I didn’t want to put on display some of the ways that my readers were effusive of their gratitude for my years of writing.  Every single one of those comments and pleas to continue were taken seriously and brought to prayer.  I thank every one of you for taking the time and effort to write what you did.  I know many of you do not usually write comments and are the ‘silent’ type of readers.  You stepped out of what you are normally used to, to make sure that I was exposed to at least a little of your thoughts, your feelings and your heart and your mind.  Any writer who manages to elicit this from his readers without any coercion or compulsion on his part will treasure this kind of energy and affirmation.  I know I do.

This made it all the harder to make the decision of whether to stop my blog or to continue it into the unknown future. 

My rationale for my decision are based on several things.  The list is probably longer than what I am about to list, but these are the pertinent ones.

1.   I am a firm believer that gratitude must never be simply something that is expressed passively.  One does not and cannot sit in languid silence and just be grateful.  Gratitude has to have an active expression, especially demonstrated to the people who have shown goodness, kindness and appreciation. 

2.   My amazing and grace-filled recovery from my near death encounter with Leukemia more than two years ago was in part attributable to many of you who have prayed for me in your own ways.  Your outpouring of encouraging comments for my blog dated 25 February 2013 gave me that boost of confidence which told me that it was really not an issue that I was so sick and probably near death's door.  That I had so many people assuring me of their prayers and silent support was enough to allow me to see my hospital bed as a different kind of ambo from which I could give life to others despite my deteriorating condition.  And I am sure that it was because of your enthused and deep faith that Peter Mui of Chicago was found to be my perfect match to start me on the slow road to recovery.  Peter has even mentioned to me that it is truly amazing to realise that he could be the answer to so many peoples’ prayers.  Our journey (mine and Peter’s) has been life-changing in so many ways - literally and metaphorically.

3.   I have always believed and taught that the grace of God is what gives us life and sustains us.  I may be running on dry (or think that I am), getting into what some call the “writers’ block”.  Could it be that I am a tad afraid to truly rely on God’s grace to see me through this dry spell?  Perhaps this is the time when I put my ‘faith where my mouth is’ and dare to make that step once more into the unknown and allow that belt to be put around me and to lead me to where I would rather not go on my own? 

4.   I don’t like to appraise myself for so many reasons.  One would be bumptious and filled with hubris to name one’s talents and gifts.  The 30-odd comments that came in to last week’s entry were lyrical in their compliments of my writing skills.  I know that I have said that keeping one’s gifts under wraps and under utilized is akin to being ungrateful to the giver of the gift.  Many of you have assured me that I do have some writing skills, and I report this with much reticence and humble reserve.  If I apply what I preach to myself, then stopping this blog at this point would be akin to putting this ‘skill’ under a tub.  However, I do apologise for my occasional verbiage and seek your indulgence.  I have never gone to any writing school, and only have the books that I read as my constant teachers and guide.

5.   Finally, and perhaps the most pertinent rationale for this option to be taken, is that my weekly ponderings on the spiritual life and its seeming vagaries do seem to serve a purpose and fulfil a need in the lives of people.  This reason alone should be good enough for one to make an act or a deed something that is not short lived but sustained and regular.  I have always maintained that prayer has to be continual and not sporadically given over to in life, because it fulfils a need inside the human heart in a positive and nurturing way.  So many of the comments that came in last week revealed something about my posts.  They seem to have been given the permission and privilege to touch the lives and hearts of those who do take time to stop by and read, if but for only 5 minutes a week.  I am not sure if 5 minutes of a person's cyber time is long, but if this time is another person's sacred 'walk' with God because of my reflections, my work does not only fill a need but makes space in another person's heart and life for God to enter.  

I suppose that after ploughing through these thoughts of mine thus far, you my reader can surmise the course of action that I have decided on.  I referred to a feeling of trepidation at the beginning of today’s blog, and 300 blogs ago, I leapt into the unknown and started the blog despite the fear of falling flat on my face.  I hope to be able, with your continued prayers, faith and support, to make a new and dedicated leap into a continued attempt to give you the weekly spiritual fodder which I was privileged to do so for the past 6 years.  I just pray for God's inspiration to write with care and a renewed purpose each time I do so, and humbly ask that you do this with me.

Thank you for your vote of confidence, and your valuable feedback.  May God use this simple instrument of His to reach out to hearts that are willing to be shaped and touched by his continued, amazing grace.  I chose the title of today's blog "300 - looking back with gratitude".  Perhaps now that I have decided to continue this in some way, I should change the title to "300 - looking back with gratitude and looking forward with hope".

Your comments will be faithfully posted from this week on.

21 comments:

  1. Thank you for continuing the blog!!!
    My husband and I faithfully reads it and he is the super silent type in life. While I am the super lazy procrastinator who have always wanted to send you an email but never did and was also afraid that I am too nonsensical.
    I will share with you another time about our thoughts and send you our questions about God. You answered many of them in your blog.

    I was the sick one who sent you a comment before going to bed last week (anonymous cos afraid that my comments will be posted online). Juliana

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  2. Thank you Father for carrying on your blog. Much appreciated. God's grace has touched more hearts through your sharing and perspective. Thank you.

    If you do run out of topics, please include your Sunday's homily. We from other parishes would love to hear your perspective and personal light on the Sunday's Gospel.

    God bless, Mat from OLSS.

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  3. Thank you for deciding to continue your blog, Fr Luke.

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  4. Ha2 Father... I was wondering what happened to my comments not knowing that you had purposely not wanted to publish them. I was so afraid that you would stop writing if no one urged you on. But no pressure, Father. write through God's inspiration and it would be much appreciated. How about compiling them into a book as I do read them again and rather difficult to look for the articles among the 300?

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  5. Thank you Fr Luke. Your decision is an SG50 gift to your faithful readers. I was afraid that you would cease to write after your 300th blog. A lot of us must have prayed for you to continue ministering to us via your blog and God saw a need for it to do so, and hence your decision. I am one of your "silent" readers, but silence does not mean I do not appreciate your effort. I know a lot of thought and preparation must have gone into your post each week; faithfully at 6.00am. You are so disciplined! I take great pleasure in reading it each week. Thanks again Fr Luke and God bless. Cheers Pauline

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  6. Dear Fr. Luke,

    You cannot imagine how relieved and grateful I was, when I read your blog today!
    It was like a huge sigh of relief and indeed I am very, very grateful to God that He has heard our numerous (or even countless) readers' prayers for you to continue to minister to God's sheep via this "cyber" ministry. Yes, I must say, not many priests have ventured into this cyber road that is less travelled and I think God has meant to lead you to where you would rather not go on your own. Especially in this age of technology, there is a strong need to be that "voice" in the wilderness of cyber space and God is with you on this journey. He will inspire you with ideas and sustain you. He will give you the right words to say/write.

    You mention that you are not sure "if 5 minutes of a person's cyber time is long, but if this time is another person's sacred 'walk' with God because of your reflections, your work does not only fill a need but makes space in another person's heart and life for God to enter."

    Yes, Fr Luke, you have put it very aptly. That 5 minutes (for me, it's more than 5 minutes because I read each entry at least twice to understand its meaning), help me to reflect on what you had written and see how the essence of your blog entries can be applied in my life especially in my struggles and daily crosses. Your blog entries have provided me with new insights about God and strengths to overcome my daily challenges...sort of like a reminder that God is with me and that I shouldn't give up and that I should run the race to the finish and fight the good fight.

    Likewise, I hope you will continue to write and lead your readers to God. The abuse of modern technology (and social media) has led many astray but the wise use of modern technology (and social media) can lead many back to God too! :)

    Thank you, Fr. Luke and may God's blessings and inspiration be with you always!

    Eileen

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  7. My soul glorifies the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my saviour! Praise and thanks be to God, for making a choice to continue writing, Fr Luke!

    I share many similar sentiments as Eileen, this 5 minutes (and yes I take more than 5 minutes since I have to check the dictionary to find out the meaning of some words you use) not only fill a need but makes space in my heart and life for God to enter..

    "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven" Matthew 5:16

    Cindy

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  8. Dearest Fr Luke

    Good evening!

    Thank you so much for your decision to continue. I waited till end of today to check your blog. For fear of reading dreadful news of your stopping this blog. Now I can relax and go to bed!

    I will continue to pray for you to be inspired to carry the word of God to us in so many different ways.

    I may keep silent from henceforth but know that my prayers are always with you and that I look forward to Mondays reading your entrie!

    May God continue to bless your kind soul.

    Magdalen

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  9. Dear Fr Luke Congratulation!!! Thank you fr for continuing the blog. Yes I have not missed any. God has definitely blessed you with the gift of penning His message..and look forward for the nourishing food.

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  10. Dear Fr Luke,
    Like a child, searching for something desperately, was how l started reading your blog this morning. And as l scrolled down and continued reading, a smile slowly started to form on my lips when l knew GOD had answered our prayers!

    With Praise and Thanks to God, Fr Luke will continue to bring food for our souls - AMEN :)

    OLSS

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  11. Dear Fr Luke

    So happy to hear the good news and looking forward to many more interesting and inspiring blogs from you!

    God bless you always!

    OLPS parishioner

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  12. Dearest Fr Luke,

    Thank you for your past painstaking & God inspired posts. Your entries have always been my week’s start in my own reflections and stimulus for my graced moments of jolting wonderment.

    These guided reflections, over the years, rubbed off in me, aiding me to see & live this world with convicted faith. Yes, I am proud 2B Catholic (beaming smile).

    Your blog of spiritual nourishment had been my regular spiritual supplement, a very necessary intake, which I believe all your readers will concur. Countless times, it’s a lifeline in the sudden waves of uncertainties in life.

    Since last week, I had very much hoped that you can continue and had prayed for God’s perfect will to be done. ;}

    So, Happy 300th Fr. Luke, Thank you for carrying on. May God continue to use you as His powerful instrument in the land of Singapore and a beacon of Truth for the cyberspace.


    With Thanksgiving & Prayers,
    Laura

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  13. Blessed be God for the renewed spirit, Fr, Luke!
    A 5-minutes halt from cyber time & get connected with God through your reflections keeps us going in God's grace the whole week through.
    Truly He makes use of you as His instrument tonprove that He works in mysterious ways.
    Stay blessed! Shalom

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  14. Thank you Fr Luke.

    OLSS Parishioner

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  15. Thanks be to God!
    Thank you Fr. Luke for using your exceptional gifts to continue to inspire and nurture all of us spiritually. May God continue to use give you courage, strength and grace to minister HIS word to us in cyber space!

    God bless,
    gz

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  16. Thank you frLuke. Each time there is a takeaway from your ruminations, I thank God for the grace moment. With much love and gratitude

    wt

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  17. Thank you Fr Luke for not stopping your blog. Though I don't post comment but I read every week. God bless you

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  18. Dear Father Luke, Yes I too am one of the "silent" ones but one who reads your blogs avidly every week. You are truly a masterpiece of God.
    I am sure our heavenly Father, Mother Mary and all the saints and angels are smiling with me because you have decided to continue blogging.
    God Bless you Fr Luke

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  19. Congratulations for reaching 300, Father. It is no mean feat - not only in terms of quantity- but it belies the steadfastness and honest discipline required to put your nose to the grindstone to find topics of relevance and interest……………...such that in sharing reflections on life, you are also able to carry on, in an informal manner, the teaching-learning experience into cyber-space. Perhaps this qualifies you as a cyber-space shepherd ? 


    But more astonishing and gratifying – I feel, is the audacity displayed in the implicit trust and reliance in God’s grace to sustain and fortify each weekly post with personal thoughts or experiences on life as seen (in your own words) - “through the lens of Sacred Scripture and Church teachings”



    History has shown us how the pen can be mightier than the sword. In the story of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe, in her conversational story-telling style, illustrates how words can help readers to empathize with enslaved characters. Legend has it that President Lincoln greeted her with the words, “ So you are the little woman who started the great war”( American Civil War). So, though I confess that I’m also a great fan of Fr Rolheiser, I firmly believe that- one need not be another ‘heavy-weight’ of a writer or what you termed as a “real” writer – to be able to reach out and touch the lives of readers. More importantly, it requires a truly honest, caring and compassionate and loving heart.


    Thank you for accepting the challenge to continue and the courage to persevere.
    God bless you, Fr


    tessa

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  20. Hi Father Luke,

    It is so timely that my mother introduced me to your blog which I didn't know about. I am suffering from a debilitating condition that has cost me my job, active lifestyle and sadly even church friends over the past year. I have no one left. I am 24 this year. Somehow, reading posts 300 and 299 has already given me this strange feeling inside my heart. As Spiderman would say "My spidey senses are tingling".

    Thank you for choosing to continue to write. I believe God will grace you with many more words! Your colourful vocabulary just makes everything so much more descriptive and paints imagery for the reader. :) I am looking forward to reading your older posts and your future posts!


    God Bless.


    O.Faith

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    Replies
    1. Fr. Luke, thank you for becoming a priest. - Sharon

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