There are moments in our journey when everything life offers just doesn't seem enough. Somehow, someone else always seems to be having it better, and we're stuck with the feeling that we've been given the raw end of the deal. We begin asking why.
It is generally the Lunar New Year for the oriental part of the world, although we name this festival differently according to our various nuanced cultures and languages. In Malaysia, it is known as the "Chinese New Year" because here it is the Chinese Malaysians who celebrate it.
I am a dragon according to the Chinese zodiac. It means at the mark of this new year, I have lived through three full cycles of the twelve zodiac animals and I am 36 years old. Of course, my family doesn't really believe in the superstitious dictates of the Chinese zodiac signs. But offspring of the dragon zodiac are generally perceived by the Chinese community to have very good standing in life, because the dragon is often seen to be tenacious, determined, hardworking, confident, intelligent, and therefore successful.
We're fast approaching the end of the year, and it often amazes me how time does fly unnoticed. At times, I feel like I'm just beginning to get the hang of the year that we call 2011, and then I'm reminded by my colourful diary that the year-end this way cometh.
I suppose it is natural that for many people sustained reflections often dwell on what they have achieved throughout the year, how much they have attained, how productive they have been. I know for a fact that I've been very productive this year and I've achieved - with the help of a number of others around me - significant milestones this year. Performance has seldom been my challenge in life. I know what I do well, and I do it well.
It is strange how people scramble around in search of significance, as if striving to fulfill an imperative of proving the legitimacy of one's reason for being. Some find significance in wealth, others in power, and yet others in charity. Yes, charity.
We seek to write our own life stories that will be told at our impending earthly departure. We desire it be said of us that a great legacy has been bequeathed to the world by virtue of our existence. We desire it be made mention that a legend has been lost. And so we strive for greatness. We strive to achieve great things so that the world will attest to our worth.
Several days ago, the 16th of June, marked my 35th birthday and also the first anniversary of my ordination as a Deacon of the Church. I should have mentioned something on that day itself, but it has taken me several days to articulate these thoughts with sufficient clarity in order to ensure that I say what I mean.
Whilst this has been the first anniversary of my ordination as a minister of the Church, it was by no means the first year of my involvement in fulltime Christian ministry. To be exact, I have served in ecclesial-related ministry in a fulltime capacity for over 12 years by now. In Chinese terms, 12 years is often considered a full chronological cycle.
Perhaps few people care to admit it, but beneath our superficial cravings and life ambitions is to be found a need for significance; the need to be known, to be loved and to be valued. This search for significance is expressed through our desiring to be given recognition (sometimes beyond proportion) and to engage in relationships with people whom we view as significant others.
It's been a really busy Sunday today. But there's still some energy left in me to recollect all that had happened throughout the day, and perhaps, offer it all up to the Lord.
Paradoxically, the highlight of my day was found this morning during a very silent moment. I was sitting at a chair just near the altar at the Sanctuary. It was a brief 45 minutes, and I was in between two Masses. I was seated there while awaiting the arrival of the godparents of a baby I was about to baptise. So I sat there silently whilst waiting.
Several months ago, just over three months after my son was born, the Malay makcik living across my house walked over to our gate and asked to see our baby. She carried him in her arms and started talking about how precious children were, and how we had to seize these seasons of their lives before they grew up. Seeing a Malay makcik carrying my baby warmed my heart. It made me believe in Malaysia all over again.