Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Learning to hope from Shrek forever after

On my flight back to Singapore from Boston on 12 Aug'10, I asked myself what hope am I holding on to, and I happened to watch Shrek forever after while in-flight. In this animated movie, Shrek chooses to allow an evil witch to remove one day of his life in his contract. After signing the contract, Shrek discovers that everything has changed and he seeks to reverse it, and the only way he could reverse it is by claiming back his true love with his wife, Fiona who now no longer recognizes him. Shrek has only one day to live and during his last few breathes, Fiona holds him in her arms and while Shrek slowly fades away. Shrek confesses his satisfaction to have loved Fiona, and that is enough for him. This scene has several implications for me.

Through my clinical pastoral education program, I understand each and everyone of us to be part of God's broken body in the world. We are not a perfect community, but a broken body. We come together as God's broken community to allow God's beauty to speak through our brokenness. We are part of God's grand story in the unfolding space and time. Even if I were to depart early one day, I am still part of God's grand story and God's broken community consisting of both the living and the departed. All of us carry stories of both the living and the departed. The departed are in a place somewhere within God's memory, and alive in the memories of the living. I am hopeful that the hope that within me will continue to be passed on within God's community, that the people whom I have touched will continue to touch others while the stories they have confided in me are carried on within me.

In the brief space and time that I may have, I have loved and being loved; I have ministered to others and being ministered to by others; I have taught others and being taught by others; I have been shaped and transformed while being in a relationship and walked together with many of you in this brief space and time. We have shared our stories of brokenness and about we who are, and have witnessed how we embody God's broken community on earth. I am very satisfied to have walked this journey together with you, and I am hopeful that God will hold each and everyone of us no matter where we are. To quote directly from apostle Paul "For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Rom 8:38-39, NRSV) Saint Augustine of Hippo taught me that there are three objects in a love relationship: the lover, the beloved and love itself. Since death will not separate one (the beloved) from God's love (the lover and love itself) manifested in Jesus Christ, I believe the departed continue to constitute God's broken community which we will get to greet and see on the day of the final resurrection. With that hope, I would like to celebrate each day God has given me.

Perhaps, it is only in the midst of my illness that I am able to slow down my pace and to spend quality time with my family members; I could reflect on my life and to question myself who I really am; I will treasure each day and the gift of being alive; I learn to value so deeply my wife, my mother, and my immediate family members including my eighteen-month old nephew; I learn to walk in faith and to trust God to guide me even in the midst of this great unknown; and to finally read books that I had wanted to read but could not in the past due to academic coursework and working schedule. 

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