Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Music of Pat Metheny – The Way Up

This song brings back dear memories to mind. It is my FIRST actual PMG recording purchase. I didn’t know much about it before it was released, but I played the heck out of the little snippet that they had available on his website, and I knew then that I had to have it. I had only just graduated from college that May of ’05, so this song forever stands as a hallmark of my coming of age.

Listening to it was something else altogether different. The Way Up has certainly polarized PMG fans; some do not like his new direction neither do they appreciate the fact that the typical PMG humming that they’ve come to love is only restricted to a mere 2 minutes in Part 3. A lot of his fans would describe this as his Magnus Opus. Judging from the complexity of just listening to the piece in its entirety, without having listened to his entire discography, I was already convinced that it was a masterpiece.

In the Opening, the Group goes all “space-age”, racing through a whole bunch of motifs and key changes. It literally starts off sounding like the cacophony from an oncoming train. It is a good introduction to the new line up and the vast array of sounds that they are capable of producing. (Until I watched the DVD version of this concert, it was nigh well impossible for me to know which instrument was producing which sound. The Ghostly whimpering from Cuong Vu’s trumpet is beautiful, and Metheny’s use of an E-Bow was a new experience for me).

Part I, starts off with the main theme (the first 4 minutes was the website snippet released to the public), played out in its simplistic beauty. A standout performance from Antonio Sanchez, his drum work sets this piece apart. Remaining as a force, ever present to guide the work through all its changes, and managing to keep it technical, but so very musical to even an untrained ear like mine.
This is the longest portion, but probably also the easiest for a person to digest first time around.

Part II - well, the crescendo about 2 minutes into it - presents us with a snippet of yet another theme, which is eventually fully elucidated in Part III. The Piano work of Lyle Mays is at its most beautiful and haunting within the relative stillness allowed in Part II. The PMG definitely “throws down” in Part II, guided first by Cuong Vu’s trumpeting, and then by the PMG lineup’s most unique inclusion - Greg Maret’s Harmonica. (Truthfully though, percussionist Nana Vasconcelo's "instrument" from Farmer's Trust, definitely takes the cake as strangest inclusion)

Part III begins with a deep resounding bass line and then settles into a full exploration of the aforementioned theme drawn from Part II. And towards the end, the wordless humming of the PMG draws us through to a beautiful climax: the main theme played out in beautiful artistic contemplation, each instrument adding its own nuance. Personally, hearing it lifts my soul each and every time: it is the crowning moment of a job well done. So much hope is imbued in the beautiful exploration of such a minute section.

I can certainly say that the first listen wasn’t easy …but this is not one of those pieces that you have to be trained to appreciate – the appreciation comes on its own. I once heard the expression,
Everytime you ought to rewind, you find there’s more to find
This work typifies that expression. It is so densely packed with planned nuances and little touches that are a joy to discover anytime you peruse through it. I have the joy of discovering each of these little jewels at my own pace, but I have to respect the genius who within a limited span of time planned for the pacing of it all, and the unity of the composition.

The Way Up, of late, has become something else to me – a source of hope. I recently listened to one of the PMG’s earlier recordings, where a nascent inkling of The Way Up’s main theme can distinctly be heard. This earlier recording predates the current release by about 30 years. To think that someone can be inspired so deeply, act on that inspiration, and not being satisfied retain that inspiration in his mind (allowing it to ruminate), and come back 30 years later and concoct a masterpiece…now that is certainly divine.

It gives me hope to think that perhaps the wisdom born of my mind and the yearning of my soul is indeed useful. I need to note down the vision, but I also have to be wary of what changes may come, and I might need some help clearing the vision up. I suspect that is what Lyle Mays is to Pat Metheny – a soundboard who understands what Pat’s vision is when everyone else might think he’s out of sorts.

5 years later, 5 years out of college, this masterpiece is always one I turn to, even while still discovering his earlier impressive discography that shows me what led up to the Magnus Opus.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Being back home, and the Referendum

It feels great to be back home after two years spent in Wenzhou, China.
Seems like nothing much has changed around here since I left. I’m just glad culture shock isn’t such a big deal after you’ve gone through it more than once. Yeah, right, I know….it’s China – which in some circles is still considered “developing” – but if you’ve been there recently, you’d know just how far ahead of the game China is. My favourite city, Shanghai, literally gives New York a run for its money.

Strangest thing I had happen to me this week was that I had to make a call to a Chinese teacher to sort some stuff out at school. I guess in the course of that conversation I must have dropped a few Chinese words or two. In any case, soon as I was done with the call, a Kenyan right next to me broke out in fluent Chinese (tongue-in-cheek) asking me whether I spoke Chinese. I’d have to meet, it was the most random place I ever expected to have a conversation in Chinese, but it shows me that perhaps there are more of us out there than I usually assume, and mayhaps it was a good decision to go to China.

Anyways, the gist of my entry is about the referendum that’s sets Kenyans abuzz with such euphoria lately. That people are so excited about something this meagre is partly confusing and a little embarrassing to me personally. Let me qualify my statement with the fact that recently a companion described me as being very “dismissive”.
A bit harsh of a classification I think (but I guess I’ll accept that characterization nonetheless).

Lord knows this country needs a good constitution and people have been neglected in the past. In that same vein of thought, a Good constitution would safeguard all the rights of the citizen, correct?
(At this point, Batman’s nemesis – the Joker – would poignantly ask “Then why so sad?”)

I’m not focusing on what the constitution says, good as it may be; rather, I’m focusing on the actors who are meant to implement the constitution’s requirements. As was commonly said in times past, “80% of the previous constitution was good; 20% was bad”
What we witnessed, however, was blatant snubbing of even the good part of that very same constitution. Bottom line is that without changing the “actors” or their “mindsets”, things are still bound to go down the same road no matter what constitution we choose.

In a related event, people have been complaining of our educational system, 8-4-4, claiming that it demands too much of our students, saddles them with too much technical knowledge. I would think the same of this referendum; for people to expect the common man to browse through tonnes of legal lingo (in their own free time for no fee), and come to the right decision is expecting too much. To help us out, they could at least have whittled the thing down to the 20% which is actually CONTENTIOUS.

And here is the reason why I am embarrassed – our legislators are actually paid tonnes of money to work out such matters. And ideally, this is boring work, which we pay them to do, so that we don’t have to deal with it (We salute a long list of professionals who we pay to deal with our mundane tasks, so that we don’t have to: Lawyers, Accountants, Auditors, Historians, Anthropologists, Geologists, etc)
Far be it from the MPs to even attempt to understand what they are doing, but they drum up a whole circus of festivities, trying to excite the common man about things mundane, and gain political mileage at the same time. And, adding insult to injury, they peddle their confusion to the gullible masses, so that as the Lord would say,
“…they take away the keys to knowledge; themselves not entering, and hindering those who wish to enter (the kingdom)…”

Most embarrassing of all is how they even got the church embroiled in this whole mess. I’m Catholic and fully pro-life, but the stupidity contained in the Church’s arguments leaves me shocked. As a future medical professional who’s done his bit on philosophy and ethics of care-giving, and reading the same constitution, I don’t know where they came up with the idea that the new constitution allows for anyone in an allied medical field (even physiotherapy or even Morgue attendants) to prescribe an abortion.

I’m embarrassed as a Christian, a future medic and as a human being that such lies are being peddled by “respectable” religious personalities. If they know they are lying, God will deal with them. If they are honestly ignorant, it only further proves the point that they are dabbling in matters for which they are not properly equipped; it obviously isn’t their calling.

So I’ll just sit out this little referendum, and hope people keep their heads despite everything. The proof is in the pudding for me – the implementation.
Shame on you legislators for failing your country yet again; for stirring up emotions where none were required at all; for gross dereliction of duty and for misleading your people yet again.

May God and this great land of Kenya forgive you for your failure.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Early one morning...

I was walking through one of the dorm kitchens early this morning and I came across the beautiful moth. Gone are the days when it was assumed that butterflies relegated their "cousins" to the ugly heap.

This particular beauty (hoping I got my classification right) should be a (Male) Luna Moth - Actias luna. Since these guys only last about one week in their adult life, I figure he's probably not got much time left. But even with finite and fragile aspects of life, God's creativity shines forth.

He actually freaked out one of my friends, but he's harmless. No mouth parts on him apparently, all his feeding was done when he was younger. Hence, despite the 4.5 inch wing span, short of flying at you, there really is nothing harmful he can really do to you.

For more info on other interesting moth species, you can follow the link below:
World's weirdest moths,

...and for a twist of something that's beautiful but deadly, check out the Asp Caterpillar

(Pics courtesy of Neha Drivya)

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Lessons from the World Cup!

This has got to be the most arduous balancing act I've ever had to pull off to enjoy a World Cup. For the whole schedule to so perfectly coincide with my exam period here in Medical school means every moment spent watching a game has to be weighed against the missed studying time.

All things considered, it's been an enjoyable experience. Seems like karma's been putting things right with this World Cup (England-Germany disputed match of '66, France-Ireland qualification debacle, Italian win through questionable means in 2006...);

The exit of some big names early on in the tournament is proving something to most people (one point especially that my Mum always emphasized) - the fundamentals are very important, and no team, no matter how great it is can get by unless it is DISCIPLINED. There's no discounting the odd bad luck that may befall a team (preview Ghana vs. Uruguay), but lack of Discipline is a guaranteed faux pas. The dissension among the ranks in the English and French teams proves this.

Striking at the World Cup? The team that had the dubious distinction of pulling that move off in 2006 was Angola, and didn't the world breath a sigh of relief when that team didn't progress any further.
If I were to wax philosophical, I would say,
And over all these skills put on DISCIPLINE, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
I say this with particularly heavy-hearted emphasis on my own country Kenya's football aspirations. Plagued by chaos stemming from a Top-Down lack of recognition of what it takes to make a great team, we've always been disappointed in international competition. Not for lack of talent, nor opportunity, but a basic failure to inculcate discipline into our own ranks.

I think it is very telling that Nigeria would go so far as to suspend their National team from international competition for 2 years of basic rebuilding. Granted, not everyone might be able to pull this off, nor would it bode well for FIFA's planning if every country under the sun were just to up and take a 'sabbatical'...
...but, for my country's sake, maybe that's just what we need; breathing room to step back and gain a sense that the ultimate prize here is not individual fame and fortune, but the respect and honour that it brings to your Mother-Country. I can't think of a time when people are more united as when they cheer for the same team. All differences put aside, all hopes and prayers raised towards one end. That's the way I'd like to see my national team unite the country.

...And, having just watched the Ghana-Uruguay match, I would love it if we also had the chance to carry the continent's aspirations.
Unfortunately, lesson number 2, short and pithy as it is, comes from that same game,
Sometimes it's the lucky team that prevails
Contrary to pundit previews, Ghana was the better of the two teams today (hands down!!!). I guess the question then is whether you'd rather be "Good" or "Lucky"?

Anyhow, back to the old studies. Enjoy your World Cup, whichever team you support (GERMANY)

God Bless

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Medical Lecture Series

As a medical student, sometimes we cannot help but lose sight of what our finals goals are in the medical field, particularly because of the vast (and varied) scope of material that we are expected to cover within class. “Where does it all fit in? ...is it really of any use?”

Thus, it was rather timely that this semester has witnessed a fledgling effort by SIS students to bring more medical professionals from the WMC’s affiliated hospitals to the Chashan campus to give us a kind of ‘practical medical orientation’. The inaugural event consisted of a lecture held by Dr. Teng Hong Lin (’96), a spinal surgeon, and it covered Bone degeneration disease. The most recent lecture, held on April 29th at the Xu Guang Hall, featured Dr. Zheng Xiao Feng (’87), a general surgeon, who presented a case study on Perforation of the Ascending Colon, interspersed with video displays of laparoscopic surgery.

Truthfully speaking, the lectures were well-thought out and presented, and introduced us to the complexity of the DDx - ‘differential diagnosis’. In addition, it presented us with a tangible example of what the “finished product” of a fine medical education should look like – the elegance and poise that comes from the dedication to detail, with a resultant display of ‘Excellence, Honour, and Compassion’ in caring for any patient

Students who have had the chance to visit the 1st affiliated hospital for “Doctor-shadowing” during the last summer and winter holidays can attest to their familiarity with these two alumnae; and for the rest of the students, it was a wonderful chance for them to become acquainted with both the Dean and Vice-Dean of surgery at the hospital. Similarly, the doctors were enthusiastic about the response shown by the students in attendance and have agreed to work with the students towards broadening the scope of subsequent lectures by entrenching a ‘lecture series’ as a staple of the semester’s calendar.
(An immediate fruit of this was the invitation extended to all students to attend the surgical demonstration by Ohio State University’s Bradley J. Needleman, MD. this past Sunday - May 16th 2010 - at the 1st Affiliated Hospital’s Medical Center)

.......A heartfelt vote of thanks goes out to the doctors of WMC for availing themselves to remind us why we are proud to be part of the WMC family. (Also deserving noteworthy mention are Navin Chutturghoon and Mohamed AlHalwachi, two students whose antecedent efforts paved the way for the rapport between the perennially busy doctors and the underclassmen).

[Photography by Usman Asaf]

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Medical Lecture Series

Well, today I finally got the impression that some plans I've been trying to put into action for sometime are actually workable.

This stems from last year, during which time Senior students at my school (Mohamed and Navin) serendipitously gave me the responsibility of acting as a liaison between the second year students and the doctors whom they had befriended at the hospital. This was a wonderful inroad that they paved, since it gave us students the chance to shadow the doctors at our Affiliated hospitals, and to gain a newfound sense of respect for the professionals allied to our school; but my deepest regret was that there was only a limited number of spaces available for students at the hospital.

I always felt it would be more convenient if the doctors could be brought to the school to present professional lectures before the students. Case presentations were a convenience that most teachers denied us in their theoretical classes, because they just assumed since we'd have to learn it in our 4th year, there was no reason to burden us with it. To tell you the truth, I think adding a little 'humanity' to the large tracts of text that we have to read sometimes help us remember why we chose this career path in the first place.

So, on the one hand, the doctors were ready to come on over, but it was a logistical idiosyncrasy that basically stalled the process. I always felt that something this important would have warranted the use of Xu Guang Hall, a very beautiful hall room within our school that is well suited to hosting multimedia presentations. Alas, I haven't been able to get the venue - I think I've been cursed with the bad luck of missing out during these past two semesters.

Well, today, forgoing the venue, we had the "maiden" presentation by Dr. Teng (Spinal Surgeon extraordinaire), and it reminded me of why I've been trying to get these doctors to come speak to us. He exuded a professional demeanor, an elegance that is testament to the great time he's spent honing his skills and the respect he shows for his craft. I think a lot of students need to see that, particularly when the routine gets a little arduous and boring, or when we begin to doubt that all this learning that we do is worth any good.

It is a blessing to have those in your midst who are gifted with the ability to teach. I look forward to getting more of our esteemed doctors to come speak to us, and I hope that the students can benefit from this experience as much as I have; my hope is renewed.

Thanks be to God

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Easter 2010!!!

This was an awkward kind of week. The Lenten season had drawn to a close and I was looking forward to a glorious celebration of Easter - well hopefully, I was hoping to put more intention and effort into the Holy Week than I had with a "neglected" Lent.

Good Friday was weird. Sat down and listened to a sermon which was the antithesis of a sermon I had given the previous Easter.
Saturday was great. Went for the late night vigil at the Catholic Church downtown. It was all in Chinese, but with my ever-worsening knowledge of the Chinese language, I could still make out quite a bit (surprisingly!)

Rolling over into Sunday, the shocking report comes through that the "state-recognized" Church where we hold our services is on fire. Initial reports stated that the fire was small, probably confined to the area where we held our "English" service; a glimpse from afar presented me with a billow of smoke that was pretty foreboding...and a close-up view of the fire was devastating: top 3 floors were razed, and the 2 bottom floors were left untouched.

A fire is nothing pretty to watch..ever!!! A burning church on Easter Sunday is the most ominous thing ever. It's like something in the earth's essence was crying out.

A church is certainly not just the bricks, stone and mortar; it's the people most importantly. But still, I couldn't help feeling torn; that building was after all a rather powerful symbol. The first time I had seen it - a mere 3 years ago - despite the obvious fact that language would be the biggest barrier, it brought me great joy to find that Church, a striking contradiction in a land that for so long was considered none to tolerant of religion.
And on the first day we got to hold a service in that church, I was simply ecstatic. And since then we've held services there, hosted our Christmas party there (2009), and basically a part of the local Christians' family.

The fire didn't raze any of this camaraderie...but it sure strained things for all people involved. A lot of investment goes into "bricks and mortar", technology and all the fine trimmings that were used to accessorize the church.

All that's gone now, and I'm not exactly in a position to offer any sort of financial help; but as always I will offer up prayer: for peace of mind for those most affected by this tragedy; for the ability to recover quickly and rebuild things even better than before; and lastly, for unity in the church, despite everything that's happened.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Works: The First Kiss(2)

She is beautiful!
I Know not who she is, but this feeling escapes description.
She is no substitute for my FIRST…but she was never meant to be.
Heart of my own heart, she is my very lifeblood.
Even before I met her, I knew her. Her deepest memory etched beneath my very skin.
A lingering memory of her and all those before her now also ingrained in me.
I will never have to prove myself before her…but I would certainly relish the chance to do just that.

It’s criminal that something this great is free.
She is not of my own choosing; she’s Heaven sent.
She will find glory in my innocence and ignorance, and she will draw hope where I only glean despair.
Her touch will always be welcoming, a soothing balm for any malady.
Nestled so close to her, breathing in her scent – as pure as earth’s essence,
All fears vanish, my joy is complete.

She runs a hand through my hair; each stroke of each lock imparts a sweet little jolt.
Instinct has already taught me to loathe helplessness, ...
but her kiss reassures me that I can let my guard down, that I can trust her; that she will not hurt me.
To only she who could ever understand me so completely, to whom I owe an eternal debt,
I pledge my heart, come what may, to honor, love and edify.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Works: The First Kiss (1)

There’s no other way to describe it,
Except to say that I feel complete.

It’s just me and you, and you have me swaddled in endless serenity.
I know of no one else; nay, I need nothing else,
Except to reside in this one perfect moment
My mere presence pales in comparison to you,
But I understand the inherent beauty of it all:
You are the FIRST, and your love is the template against which I’m fashioned.

But something in your countenance tells me that I can’t stay.
I wouldn’t call it an apprehension...it’s more like a premonition.
Of one who’s arrived too soon; one who’s achieved the peak of success without an ounce of effort.
I see it oh so clear now – you have to let me go!
I’m simultaneously at my beginning and my end. I lie in this moment – timeless.

It’s not without a little reluctance on your part
It seems like you’re almost sad to see me go…like I may not make it back.
….but this rite of passage is not without its own merit. You’ll be letting me go, but I sense you’ll never be far off.
You embrace me, and you kiss my head so deep.
An emptiness stirs down within, and I know that I will never forget you.

(Ref: Ecclesiastes 11:5b)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

To "fail because of sticking to one's principles" ... (Part II)

Time to finish off what I started.
Well, the details of the incident have been elucidated. I guess in the end I can only ask if all the ruckus was really worth it.

I figure I'm pretty docile most of the time, and I won't pick a (verbal) fight unless I really have to. For one, I've got to be pretty sure of myself before I plunge into anything.

But despite how justified or wronged I may have felt, there's also the need to assess how much of this was driven by pride. Recently the point about Submitting as if unto the Lord...despite circumstances is something I've had to mull over.
Being disconfirmed by the authorities was a definite insult; having to bear the punishment for a lapse not of my own doing, despite proposing an amicable solution was more salt on the wound.

I'd say that above all things, I was making a point for "precedent". Since the batch of students within which I currently find myself is practically a 'pioneer' group, I'm wary of the fact that any measures that are rashly imposed as a stop-gap reaction to our 'flaws' might become the Gold Standard for any future dealings with our issues.

If re-taking that test went as scheduled, we would merely have dealt with the symptoms and not the cause of the malady. And to tell you the truth, I think it was completely hare-brained of someone to steal the easy Preventive Med. paper, when there were far harder exams waiting for us in the wings

I was certain that if someone had stolen that easy paper, then they were bound to try something with the more difficult papers. There was no way I was going to subject myself to having to study twice for something like Pharmacology/Acupuncture/Lab Diagnosis.

At the end of the day, I think it's clearer that anticipating the idiosyncratic behaviour of my fellow students and drafting policy to deal with that is the only way to fix things. I didn't need a whole semester of Preventive Med to know that "Prevention is obviously better than cure".

As for me, I'm just going to lay low. Fielding THREE different sorts of allegations within half a week definitely made my life hell; I'd rather not have anyone expect me to step in to sort things out for a while...I'm keeping my distance.
...But at the end of the day, you'll still find me sticking to my principles; that is unless you can prove me wrong, in which case I'll do the honourable thing and just back down [I'm strong-willed, NOT Pig-headed].

God Bless

Thursday, March 18, 2010

To "fail because of sticking to one's principles" or To "succeed by cowardice" - that is the question!

Hey everyone.
This story is a tad old, but the drama from this situation only recently cleared up, so I can address it now.

A most untenable situation played itself out during our previous exam period. One of the papers ended up leaked/stolen. Actually, whichever way you look at it, it was a minor mishap that was blown way out of proportion.

Truth be told, it was the culmination of minor mistakes by both teachers and students that had been allowed to fester for some time. The only thing was that when it was time to own up to the mistake, no one wanted to take responsibility.
The teachers, citing the 'devilishness' of the students, had resolved to have us retake the test a mere 3 days, (nay!) 2 days after the incident was discovered; meaning, we took the test on a Thursday (Jan 7), Friday (Jan 8) morning they declared the test void, slated the retake for Sunday(Jan 10), and then moved it to Saturday(Jan 9).

That might have been alright, were it not for that fact that there was no convenient time for the 'new' test in an already jam packed exam roster. The students on the other hand, were also sticking to their guns as 'thick as thieves'. Most students, were oblivious to the whole thing didn't mind a retake...they just wanted it on a different day. And some students were just against the idea of a retake altogether.

Thinking that communication between Teachers & Students was all that was needed, I got in there and asked students to sign a petition seeking a change of date for what was set to be an inevitable retake test and presented that to the Teaching Office. From my fellow students I got some half-hearted responses; some people would only pledge support when the crowds were there, but would definitely not be there for the long run; others went about diluting the process by holding on to the untenable notion that "...since they were not responsible for the mess up, they would not assent to a retake of the test."
And some students were in the precarious position of not being able to ask for any special favours from the school.

And nothing really positive came from the teachers. Some understood the stressfulness the students were facing, but they were powerless to control the situation, and some just straight out refused to listen. It seemed like the test would go on as planned.

To tell you the truth, the paper - Preventive Medicine - A general education course, was something I could have passed very easily...BUT it wasn't the thing that worried me. In only a few days I was set to take an Acupuncture test that scared me in a manner few things seldom ever do; and every spare minute I had was also spent preparing for the big finisher - PHARMACOLOGY.

For one measly (failed) test to demand so much time from me, in terms of studying again was too much to bear. (I was sure the teachers would set an even harder test to avenge our mischief....at least I would if I were in their place!!!)

For better or worse, I was just gonna sit out the test!
I'd tried the "diplomatic" thing with the people-in-charge, but that failed, so I felt like I had no other choice. Other students said they felt the same way, and so it seemed like people were just gonna sit out the re-take exam.

But this played itself out just like the situation with getting signatures for the petition - too many conflicting interests, too many confused people, some people suggested radical things which were sure to spiral out of control; and the clincher was that some people claimed they would only sit out the test if EVERYONE ELSE sat out the test (...as if I was meant to guarantee such a condition!)

Anyway, the day to retake the exam came, and we had decided we'd show up for the test, voice our disapproval at the way things were handled, and then just sit-it-out.

Ideally that's how things should have worked out!
At exam time, most of the student group - almost 130 - were camped outside one set of classrooms waiting to speak to someone with even an ounce of decent authority. But some students just sat down and took the test, which of course set off a chain-reaction whereby other students felt that they also had to take the test or suffer consequences.

Meanwhile, a shouting match of sorts ensued among the group of students who were still sticking to their guns. "Mob Mentality" had set in, and I thank God nothing drastic happened (I'm not exactly in a place where this kind of dissent is tolerated). But at that point all was futile! I just tried to calm things down a tad, 'cause I was wasting time - I needed to be studying. I said what I had to and left.

In the end, only 49 of us sat-out that test. At that point it was merely a numbers game. This was an embarrassing situation for our school in particular, and I didn't know how they wanted to address it.
If the number of dissenters was very low, hard punishments could easily have been meted out. Another thing was the character of the dissenters, and that made the difference between the incident being viewed as a 'tantrum' or a 'valid complaint'.

Our names are labels, plainly printed on the essence of our past behaviour

It did help that we had a list of scholarship recipients among our ranks, and I know it spoke in our favour. So luckily a few things went in our favour

1. I was not expelled
2. I didn't lose the scholarship from the school
3. I got to retake the test - devoid of any ill effect - last week

Some things didn't go so well though.

1. This amorphous group of students was brought together in a semblance of unity not previously seen before, but the fall out from the whole incident means that type of unity probably won't be seen again.

2. The embarrassment to the school breaks my heart. "Their glory is my glory" and I wish things could have worked out better.

3. Some people turned on me. It was bad enough to find yourself standing without support in the midst of all the goings-on, but it was even worse to turn around and hear that students accused me of forcing them to sign the petition and Lord knows what else.

That last bit hurt. Almost made it seem like there's never any good reason for standing up for something

(Really long post...I'll round it up in the next one....)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

In the fullness of His time

I feel really blessed lately.

Things seem to be coming together for a lot of people that I love. Kinda hard to go through life feeling that you're not living up to your full potential...and God knows this is a really thankless world already...but having to live through it as one disconfirmed really makes it that much worse.

That's why it feels really good when things take a turn for the better for people whom you feel really deserve good from this world.

God has put eternity in the hearts of men, but we cannot tell what He has done from beginning to end! The wisdom of Solomon indeed.

In the fullness of His time all things come to pass as He wills them, and I'm sure glad He has a handle on things in this ever changing world. More than that, I'd like to thank Him for putting up with all the whining, procrastination, excuses and sheer disappointment that undoubtedly comes from placing His trust within our hands time and time again.

A mark of recognition also goes out to those who look ahead and pray blessings into our lives. Mothers, Fathers, family, friends who pray into the life of something so new, with such infinite potential that the road ahead cannot be fathomed; in all things putting decent humble prayer, and despite the chance that they may not see the fruits of that prayer realized, forsaking comfort and being able to trust in One so Faithful, so Loving, who hears every word and brings those prayers borne of humility to fruition.

Never did I feel so happy in this life as when fate and the bustle of life rendered me powerless...powerless enough to just teach me to reach out and embrace Him the way I was always supposed to: as His docile child. Powerless in His hands I was initially created, and yet again powerless my soul will eventually return to Him.

With what time I have left - each precious moment - I dedicate to Him and His purpose. And to this world, His world, I will freely render my gifts just as they were freely given unto me. And when I think of someone in need, if there's nothing more within my power that I can do, I will at least intercede for you, as countless others have interceded for me and were never put to shame.

In the fullness of His time He makes all this right.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

I Love my Catholic Tradition

I just attended Catholic Mass today!

Ideally, that seems like a mere paltry event, but considering that I live in Wenzhou, (South East) China, which is relatively unknown to most foreigners, it is nothing short of amazing.

Not long ago I had mentioned my adventure with regards to tracking down the Catholic Church within my city. Well, since late last year, a number of like-minded Catholics have also tracked the Church down, and we now have a fledgling "English-Speaking" fellowship - which gets to have an English Mass on the 3rd Saturday of every month.

I love Catholic tradition, particularly its solemn tones; I always loved being able to sit back in Church and marvel at the work it took to put together a service, particularly the music section. I fondly remember Ms. Kioko from Our Lady Queen Church [based in Karen, Nairobi] - our Organist.
The time she devoted to the church and her meticulous understanding of her art form always impressed me, and examples like these urge me to share my gifts (musical or otherwise) with the rest of this world

I really love tradition, and I miss the Latin Mass. Haven't attended one in quite some time. I especially loved "The Missa de Angelis" - Latin Mass VIII.
We (international students) get to perform all the musical pieces during the Mass, and gladly, in a blessed happenstance,I got to perform a duet of "Sanctus".

It blesses my heart to be able to praise the Saviour in a manner that my predecessors initiated. And in all that time since, I can share in the richness of those traditions. The continuity is astounding, and it binds me more closely to a 2000 year old mystery (with all its antecedents) and everyone who played a special part in it.

And, as we sang it, I was delighted to hear the Chinese celebrants (most of whom barely spoke English) join in with their Mandarin version of the lyrics.
This universal loves binds us all. It reminds me that within Christ, we are one body - many parts, but one body nonetheless.

God Bless

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Advice for A Fledgling Parent.

Happy New Year!
Old habits really die hard, but I'm hoping to start this year by making more regular entries to the blog.

This past Sunday I was privileged to attend the naming ceremony of Baby Joshua Terry Allan Kommey, my classmate's son. Born in the glorious month of October, exactly one week after my birthday (mine - 11th, his - 18th), he's a welcome addition to the family.

Friends of the Kommey family contributed towards making it a special occasion with songs from our choir, a christening performed by Terry Sills, and lighthearted anecdotes. And then Emcee put us on the spot, asking us to give advice to the new parents.

To tell the truth I didn't exactly feel I was the one meant to impart wisdom to the parents. Being a lastborn (of sorts), I've never had to raise any of my siblings or younger cousins. And currently, being as single (content nonetheless) as I am right now, I didn't mean to make light of the obvious feats faced by my friends and their little bundle of Joy.

I just had to wax philosophical.
In learning about temperament recently - seeing it as the blessing that it is whether in the Brooding Melancholic, Controlling Choleric, Boisterous Sanguine or the Peaceable Phlegmatic - I can only imagine what parents have to deal with.

Each child is unique! Each is a gift that shows up without a manual (...and unfortunately the gift can't be returned!) And despite it all, the parents are expected to do a good job.
I think it would probably be easier on every parent if they had a Sanguine for a child, one with such outward expression of joy (and occasional mischief) such that the parents would be sure their child was FINE

Imagine having to deal with the quiet, overly shy child! I'm sure introversion from children sometimes causes parents to contemplate that their child might have some emotional deficits, or more likely be a candidate for Schizophrenia or social separation.

But with each child, their temperament is just as much a part of their destiny as any other integral part of them; a God-given eccentricity that enables them to perceive a unique set of colours in the vast palette with which God painted this world.

DESTINY! What it always comes down to! Terry reminded us that Children are basically 'on loan' from God to their parents.

When they're young they rely on their parents; when they grow older, they seek out INDEPENDENCE; when they grow even older, they learn to rely on their parents' wisdom once again and their community - INTERDEPENDENCE; finally, when we grow even older, our knowledge comes full circle and we learn to trust in God more fully as "the little children" that we'll always be to Him - MATURITY

I tend to think of the role of a parent in a rather crude way:
"A Parent's job is to train you well enough so that they can kick you outta the house!"

OK let's soften that punch. This is not meant to portray any insinuations of animosity between parent and child. A parent is only meant to train you to find God and to believe in yourself and your abilities.
The beauty of being 'Predestined' is that you can be assured that in as much as you have a plethora of talent that you may be clueless about, there is a SPECIFIC God-given use that it serves. As long as you're following God, author of your destiny, you can't go wrong.

So my advice to a new parent is short -
1. teach your child to seek after God, and the child will slowly inch his/her way towards that destiny [...the opposite path would be the for parent to decide the child's destiny - a massive mistake by all counts].

2. learn your child's temperament, and nurture its strengths and mildly embrace and smooth out its weaknesses

May God grant parents everywhere hearts full of abundant Love, Patience, and the Joy of achieving the impossible in a crazy world: raising us to be Loving, Responsible and God-fearing.

God Bless