@my best friend: the time for an old poet

leaf and life thought

The poet gazes afar as the two slowly walk,

Through a strait gate palm in palm they talk.

Now I am ninety-nine and you not younger dear,

Friend to friend, goodbye without fear.

Time to leave them all: sanctuary abode round the corner,

Old dreams of love and whimsy bliss that can not be

Reconciled with the ultimate Initiator and Sustainer of life

Artful tiled floors, Christmas tree, green attic, Jacuzzi in style, red waving palm, sunken secret garden, tinted glass canopies, white-washed walls, yellow brick steps and all.

Yes, we seem to have lived here all our lives,

Season to season, rain and draught, tears and laughter, colors and paleness, words and silence adrift as each decade drives.

I always liked to stay up all hours of the night,

Sitting alone by the green attic window star-gazing into the dim gentle light,

Crafting, designing, evaluating, fantasizing what mattered then,

A future of retreating retiring reviving resurrecting right.

Hearing perhaps a faint sobbing in your sleep,

Urging we must leave and sail across the vast blue deep.

Looking for a blue hope bird in springtime great beyond,

Never again shall we be contented with mere earthling’s song.

Hence in this poem I now give all to time,

To our new home the young country soon we come.

random thoughts, pictures and colors of friends

Friend is a word we often use to depict any kind of relationship. I decide to use a set of pictures from the coloring book to show what we can make of friendship. We start with plain colorless pages. The relationship adds colors, some messy, some quite beautiful. We can have entirely different tastes like the two houses in a picture or we can have exactly the same appearance and lifestyle like the two adjoining wooden doors. Yet we are still different. You cannot be me and I cannot be you. There is always a boundary between us no matter how buddy we are. We may be close enough to takeover a friend’s role sometimes if needed, like helping one another in crisis. When things resume normal we each return to doing our own stuff, staying at a distance. That is the unspoken realist’s rule of friendship. On the other hand there is a friendship that calls for more, and it borders the common ground of love. That is another story.

Travel review 2014-2016 (15 random points)

The sound mind man’s rather personal three years’ travel in review in fifteen random realms as follows:blue-snow-gold

1. weather experienced: extreme heat (over 40 degrees C to extreme cold (thick snow on the way) but blessed with moderate weather mostly.
2. ocean: Pacific from end to end.
3. work: two medium size books completed.
4. natural hair color: turned mysteriously from dark to medium and now light brown with specks of gold(?) (LOL).
5. eye sight: complete change of lens inside. now 20/20.
6. belief: Christian.
7. computers: one Dell crashed (physically) on arrival in backwater place; now e and q and caps lock on the left side of keyboard refuse to behave. purchased one Samsung as backup for USD100. Finally I received a gift of a 2016 MacBook Pro!
7. cell phone: received a gift of a good-as-new Samsung Note III (?).
8. geography: from drought and flood-prone land-locked flat land at sea level or below (?) to mountains of an altitude of 8000ft.
9. blogs: tried new ways and perspectives in different blogs. not enough time to do better. LOL. Just maintaining from time to time hopefully for various reader-interest groups.
10. photography: second to writing. some monotony sets in. Alas.
11. relationship: nothing to declare.
12. 2017 assignment: continues to be stuck to the computer(s) and various related technological tools now for at least another year doing translation.
13. hobbies: basically i like writing fictions and non-fictions (memoirs) and thinking about life (in different realms). interest in both art and science. a generalist. Multitasks practitioner.
14. travel class: only as appropriate. economy. But not as courageous as backpackers.
15. love: faithfulness and compassion. 

2017 resolution: Be the one who finds the gold. Be Resilient .

find-the-gold

photo credits:
the blue snow picture was taken by the other dear lone traveler using her cell phone.
the other picture was also sent to me by her (uncredited)

a tiny goodbye with two poems

tiny-flowers
He said goodbye to this Tiny garden that morning as he did the usual round of walking solo before he left for another country.

Walking is a passion but it cannot be done with joy without the existence of the teeming lives on the way. This cluster of tiny flowers livens up his walk. They are like friends who are so used to each  other that they hardly need to talk. A gentle tilting of the head and a shadow of a smile at the tip of the lips, a slight lighting up of the eyes, and a mutual recognition in the heart…are all that requires. For good friends it is not hard to say goodbye. They update travel schedule by forwarding the airline email. Sometimes they text the other when they are onboard waiting for others to settle and the waitresses to walk pass and remind them to turn off the mobiles.

In the olden era in an eastern country the traveler is usually accompanied by the friend and they walk outside the city gate to where the meandering highway touches the foot of a mountain. They pause and toast each other a farewell drink and then part. The same for the waterway. They part at the quay and wait till the boat sails off with the traveler. Many beautiful farewell poems are written and I quote below two poems in the translated versions I found at random on the internet.

Wang Wei (701-761): Farewell (1- Here in the hills, I bade you farewell)

1 Here in the hills, I bade you farewell;
2 And by dusk I closed my twiggen door.
3 O grass will again be green next spring!
4 Might you, my lord, be back once more?

Farewell to a Friend
by Li Bai
Green mountains bar the northern sky;
White water girds the eastern town.
Here is the place to say goodbye,
You’ll drift out, lonely thistledown.
Like floating cloud you’ll float away;
With parting clay I’ll part from you.
We wave and you start on your way,
Your horse still neighs: “Adieu! adieu!”

NO, they are not mine

Nostalgia for vintage cars of another era.
vintage16vintage15It is hard to describe how one feels about old cars. These are from the 1950s. A 1953 CHEVROLET Model: Corvette, made popular by John Wayne, and a 1954 Kaiser-Darrin. One thing that is striking about these two is the cream colored exaggerated bonnet. These were taken from the car museum and I was merely a traveler visitor using a Samsung mobile phone camera. I like the cream color. Somehow it reminds me of another much smaller car I used to own. Alas, I do not have a photo of it. Nostalgic memories often associate with a good time. Yes, I did enjoy driving the tiny machine. In fact I liked that car so much that I owned two of the same model at two different times. I finally grew out of it and set my heart on bigger vehicles. But over the years, having changed my favor many times I now park myself in the middle-range driving a medium foreign made with supposedly best performance, best re-sale value and reportedly most economical in terms of gas consumption and maintenance. How my taste and priority have changed.

his web blog frozen in a time and space

Cherry On Top2007 Fuji Mt n structureThe day was like any ordinary day. We were all set to go to a hot spring and this picture was taken from a coach. The guide said we would go near the mountain but not too near. At that time they were speculating that it might have some volcanic activities unsuitable for travelers. It had not erupted since the 18th century. But we were told to be cautious. Anyway we had a good ride to the place famous for its hot spring. The idea of a sleepy mountain suddenly woke up and erupting into an inferno was a bit unsettling for the travelers.

But the company was good and some sang songs to cheer up the rest.

We started early in the morning but arrived in the evening due to slow traffic and closure of certain stretches of the highway. There was no road rage even though traffic was crawling and we moved practically in terms of inches. I looked out of the window and saw other drivers and passengers unperturbed and calm sitting in their cars and waited to inch forward. As a mere traveler I could only look at the people superficially. The mountains looked beautiful from afar. And we were told not to go near. I did not visit the country again after December 2007. In 2011 it was struck with the most powerful earthquake ever recorded to have hit Japan, and the fourth most powerful earthquake in the world since modern record-keeping began in 1900.

I quote below passages from the wikipedia: “Japan has also been the site of some of the 10 worst natural disasters of the 21st century. The types of natural disasters in Japan include tsunamis, floods, typhoons, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions. The country has gone through many years of natural disasters, affecting its economy, development, and social life. The 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami were devastating.On 10 March 2015, a Japanese National Police Agency report confirmed 15,894 deaths,6,152 injured, and 2,562 people missing across twenty prefectures, as well as 228,863 people living away from their home in either temporary housing or due to permanent relocation. The tsunami caused nuclear accidents, primarily the level 7 meltdowns at three reactors in the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant complex, and the associated evacuation zones affecting hundreds of thousands of residents.”

An internet blogging Japanese friend who used to work and stay in Tokyo lost contact after the disaster. We used to share one common interest: We were both avid fans of Kazuo Ishiguro (who created remarkable stories of love, loss and hidden truths in The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go.) and we both liked the movie  Australia. His  website remained the same as many years ago and froze in a space and time. I gave up visiting his web blog eventually.

Meet the African penguins (ecology continues): a haiku

penguins

No cold snow at best

flying through ocean to nest

rocky shore for rest

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~I see these cute birds in the enclosure. They do not need ice. They are from a warm country. A big strong male stands as guard. Couples of smaller ones make their own individual homes in the rocky caves. There are babies too. what surprises me is they are from Africa and there is no ice required in their home. The name of penguin always makes me imagine an icy  cold place like the poles. How little I know about some birds and their Creator. Another thing that attracts me is that they seem to live in pairs. They are not alone.

An excerpts on the the African penguins:

Natural History

Not all penguins live in snow and ice—African penguins live in cold currents along the coast of South Africa. They’re agile and graceful under water. Using their wings as flippers and their feet as rudders, they “fly” through the water fast enough to chase down schools of cape anchovy and other small fishes.

To keep warm in the cold water, African penguins have a double layer of insulation: densely packed feathers over a soft layer of down. On land, they face the opposite problem; they can overheat in hot sun. To keep their cool, they pant and pump blood to parts of their bodies with less insulation—their wings, faces and feet—where excess heat can escape.

Conservation

Although all penguins are protected from hunting and egg collecting, many, including the African, face threats from oil pollution, habitat loss, introduced predators and overfishing.

Cool Facts

Penguins make good parents. They often keep the same mate for life, and both parents take turns incubating the eggs and feeding and protecting their chicks.

Wild penguins eat close to 14 percent of their body weight each day. For a 150-pound (68-kg) person, that would be like eating 21 pounds (9.5 kg) of food a day!

(2016 Monterey Bay Aquarium Foundation)

penguin2

16 “Search from the book of the Lord, and read:
Not one of these shall fail;
Not one shall lack her mate.
For My mouth has commanded it, and His Spirit has gathered them.

(Isaiah 34:16 New King James Version)

three love haikus

trees and dawn

he has walked so far

unaware of time and space

meeting sudden dawn

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

looking and not see

her lush hair flowing like silk

gently touching his

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

moving with coolness

wordless yet speaking volume

love is in the air

all our busy rushing ends in nothing

camels and other animals

not in a desert

he saw camels marching by

at a casual glance

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

More secrets unfold as one looks higher and further. Sometimes we need to linger for awhile and not be in a hurry to go away. Ironically, the speed of communication activities enhanced by modern digital gadgets has slowed down man’s organic and dynamic perceptive power.

We are merely moving shadows,
    and all our busy rushing ends in nothing.
We heap up wealth,
    not knowing who will spend it.” (King David, Psalm 39:6)

WHEN THE SKY WEEPS

20150520 morning light
Sometimes we take the sky for granted. We do not look up unless it looks like it’s going to rain. When it rains we pay more attention to the wetness of the water-soaked ground or the forgotten laundry in the backyard. We do not look at the sky or the rain. We look at things affected by the wetness. We also think about the inconvenience like the expected traffic jam on our way home after work or after school when all cars slow down due to the slippery roads or due to other more trivial reasons.
We look at our watches. We think about the possible lateness in appointment, the potential missed opportunity of pleasing someone dear or important to us, the probable mishap that might occur due to the delay, pros and cons of profits and losses in terms of resources spent or not-spent due to the delay in the traffic jam etc.
We think of loved ones waiting with disappointments and perhaps anxieties.
We think of the cold dishes we would have to force ourselves to eat when we eventually reach home. We think of the shower we badly need. We think of the bed…
It could be unpleasant to be caught in a traffic jam in heavy rain.
On the other hand there are a few who feel comforted by the rain. They look at the weeping sky. They see things that others do not see. They see an opening of the storehouses of water. Unseen hands unlocking and pouring. Unseen faces smeared with tears. Unseen eyes swollen with crying…with them as they cry in the cars or at the windows somewhere away from home or having none to return to.
There are also a few who like being in the rain. To them, walking in the rain is like taking a nice, cool, long shower. They enjoy the touch of the water droplets on their faces. They love the music of the wind and rain orchestra. They stroll leisurely and unhurriedly. They watch the others stuck in the cars, anxious and bored faces watching them in return. Sometimes they sing and dance along with the raindrops.
The sky is neutral. We put labels on it whenever it suits us. The sky weeps. The sky smiles. The sky is friendly. The sky is hostile. The sky is foreboding. The sky is welcoming…labels.
Today when you happen to be near the sky look up and see what you want to see.

today is a day for random sweet mochi from internet pictures

This traveler needs the sweetness of life sometimes. Today this post self explains itself with pictures of sweet tasty mochi. Interestingly I never got to eat them in japan. They are available everywhere else. Perhaps I overlooked while in Japan. Next time I shall make it a point to ask for them.

blueberry mochi butter mochi green tea mochi closeup green tea mochi Matcha Green Tea Mochi Cupcakes mochi 2 mochi ice cream mochi with red bean mochi mochi-hamentaschen-fruit-fillings mochi-yatsuhashi purple sweet potato mochi strawbrry cream cheese mochi

“A dictionary for navigators on spiritual rough waters” chapter 29: the meaning of “meaning”

Today we come to one word, “mean”, and learn to appreciate its depth and width. when we say “I mean” we are telling others to understand what we mean. The word ‘mean’ has no value of its own. The person who uses it can intend one of the following: he really means what he says; or he doesn’t really mean it and he is trying to deceive the audience; or he means it but it is not the truth and he is also under deception; or he just says it to fill the space without meaning to say anything and/or deceive anyone.

To be true, the word ‘mean’ must be used together with the word ‘know’. If you do not know you cannot say anything and mean what you say. The problem is often we just say without really knowing. But there is One who knows what He says and means what He says. Not only that, He wants us to be like Him and know before we say. Here are some examples of Jesus, who always means what He says:

Go and learn what this means: I desire mercy [that is, readiness to help those in trouble] and not sacrifice and sacrificial victims. For I came not to call and invite [to repentance] the righteous (those who are upright and in right standing with God), but sinners (the erring ones and all those not free from sin).

And if you had only known what this saying means, I desire mercy [readiness to help, to spare, to forgive] rather than sacrifice and sacrificial victims, you would not have condemned the guiltless.

Listen then to the [meaning of the] parable of the sower:

The field is the world, and the good seed means the children of the kingdom; the darnel is the children of the evil one,
 
On the other hand, here is an example of Peter who did not mean what he said on the occasion when faced with possible danger of his own life:
Matthew 26:69-71Amplified Bible (AMP)

69 Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard, and [a]one maid came up to him and said, You were also with Jesus the Galilean!

70 But he denied it [b]falsely before them all, saying, I do not know what you mean.

71 And when he had gone out to the porch, another maid saw him, and she said to the bystanders, This fellow was with Jesus the Nazarene!

It was sad and shameful for Peter whom other apostles looked to as their leader at that time. He did not know that he needed not to fear even when his physical world seemed crushing. However, he was transformed by the renewal of his mind after receiving the Holy Spirit who gave him the inner strength to tell the truth and mean what he said. He became the first apostle who witnessed for Jesus, preached openly and boldly after Jesus was raised to heaven and brought thousands to give their lives to Jesus. Peter eventually died for Jesus.peter denying Jesus

random thoughts on spiritual cost

The Cost of Discipleship (Quotes from Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

“When all is said and done, the life of faith is nothing if not an unending struggle of the spirit with every available weapon against the flesh.”

“Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: ‘Ye were bought at a price’, and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.”

“Not hero worship, but intimacy with Christ.”

“Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”

“It is only because He became like us that we can become like Him.”

“Fruit is always the miraculous, the created; it is never the result of willing, but always a growth. The fruit of the Spirit is a gift of God, and only He can produce it. They who bear it …know only the power of Him on whom their life depends”

“[Jesus] stands between us and God, and for that very reason he stands between us and all other men and things. He is the Mediator, not only between God and man, but between man and man, between man and reality. Since the whole world was created through him and unto him (John 1:3; 1st Cor. 8:6; Heb. 1:2), he is the sole Mediator in the world.”

“There is no way from one person to another. However loving and sympathetic we try to be…we cannot penetrate the incognito of the other man…Christ stands between us, and we can only get into touch with our neighbors through him. That is why intercession is the most promising way to reach our neighbors, and corporate prayer, offered in the name of Christ, the purest form of fellowship.”

“The messengers of Jesus will be hated to the end of time. They will be blamed for all the division which rend cities and homes. Jesus and his disciples will be condemned on all sides…The disciples will be sorely tempted to desert their Lord. But the end is also near, and they must hold on and persevere until it comes. Only he will be blessed who remains loyal to Jesus and his word until the end.”

“To be called to a life of extraordinary quality, to live up to it, and yet to be unconscious of it is indeed a narrow way. To confess and testify to the truth as it is in Jesus, and at the same time to love the enemies of that truth, his enemies and ours, and to love them with the infinite love of Jesus Christ, is indeed a narrow way. ..it is indeed an impossible way. But if we behold Jesus Christ going on before step by step, we shall not go astray.”

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.’ These men without possessions or power, these strangers on Earth, these sinners, these followers of Jesus, have in their life with him renounced their own dignity, for they are merciful.”

“So many people come to church with a genuine desire to hear what we have to say, yet they are always going back home with the uncomfortable feeling that we are making it too difficult for them to come to Jesus.”

“[God says] Discipleship is not limited to what you can comprehend.”

“True prayer is done in secret, but this does not rule out the fellowship of prayer altogether, ..True prayer does not depend either on the individual or the whole body of the faithful, but solely upon the knowledge that our Heavenly Father knows our needs.”

“The community of the saints is not an “ideal” community consisting of perfect and sinless men and women, ..No, it is a community which proves that it is worthy of the gospel of forgiveness by constantly and sincerely proclaiming God’s forgiveness…Sanctification means driving out the world from the Church as well as separating the Church from the world. But the purpose of such discipline is not to establish a community of the perfect, but a community consisting of men who really live under the forgiving mercy of You.”

“Anything I cannot thank God for the sake of Christ, I may not thank God for at all; to do so would be sin. … We cannot rightly acknowledge the gifts of God unless we acknowledge the Mediator for whose sake alone they are given to us.”

“The earthly form of Christ is the form that died on the cross. The image of God is the image of Christ crucified. It is to this image that the life of the disciples must be conformed; in other words, they must be conformed to his death (Phil 3.10, Rom 6.4) The Christian life is a life of crucifixion (Gal 2.19) In baptism the form of Christ’s death is impressed upon his own. They are dead to the flesh and to sin, they are dead to the world, and the world is dead to them (Gal 6.14). Anybody living in the strength of Christ’s baptism lives in the strength of Christ’s death.” ― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship Dietrich Bonhoeffer

words spoken by the wisest man

Ecclesiastes 6

There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, and it is common among men: A man to whom God has given riches and wealth and honor, so that he lacks nothing for himself of all he desires; yet God does not give him power to eat of it, but a foreigner consumes it. This is vanity, and it is an evil affliction.

If a man begets a hundred children and lives many years, so that the days of his years are many, but his soul is not satisfied with goodness, or indeed he has no burial, I say that a stillborn child is better than he— for it comes in vanity and departs in darkness, and its name is covered with darkness. Though it has not seen the sun or known anything, this has more rest than that man, even if he lives a thousand years twice—but has not seen goodness. Do not all go to one place?

All the labor of man is for his mouth,
And yet the soul is not satisfied.
For what more has the wise man than the fool?
What does the poor man have,
Who knows how to walk before the living?
Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of desire.
This also is vanity and grasping for the wind.

10 Whatever one is, he has been named already,
For it is known that he is man;
And he cannot contend with Him who is mightier than he.
11 Since there are many things that increase vanity,
How is man the better?

12 For who knows what is good for man in life, all the days of his vain life which he passes like a shadow? Who can tell a man what will happen after him under the sun?

sound familiar? many can identify with this poor rich man? yes, he was also the richest man in the world in history.

Heaven-And-Hell-Sign