Archive for the ‘ ruminations ’ Category


Ever since I could remember, I was always filled with a deep yearning to be understood. I suppose this became clear, whether by clever photos imbued with meaning, or by spilling words out in a clumsy attempt that if you, or anyone, were to read them, they would somehow see me.

When I look in the mirror, I don’t know if the same person staring back at me is real.

It certainly doesn’t feel like he is.

We have the same eyes, the same round face, with the same slight crook across the bridge of our nose; but every single time we exchange glances I feel as if there is someone else out there, in the world, walking around with my body, wearing my stolen features, whispering things with my voice, touching someone else with my hands.

Today, or every day, I am learning again, afresh, how to be real. How to inhabit this body, this face, the new lines around my eyes. I look at myself and I know I am growing older, with each passing minute, while the world spins on its axis and money is earned and love is made and smiles traded across a crowd.

But somehow, in some inexplicable way, it is as if I am trapped in null gravity, unsure, filled with uncertainty, caught adrift on a foreign wind.

And yet, as true as tired cliches, life must go on. We must learn to believe again, to throw out the anchors and find again our bearings. Discover what it will truly mean to walk in the waking world not as a stranger in my own skin.

Everyone, I believe, desires on some level to be understood. Perhaps that is because we fear that our own true selves, without guile or armour, will turn away even the people whom we believe love us the most.

The truth is that I am tired, of trying to smile or appear genial at very least, in order to not come across as gruff or mean to the people around me. And yet the sad fact is that I cannot cease to do so.

For a very long time I have not wrote, because it felt like I had forgotten how, and now, as you can tell, I fumble and prattle about ultimately inconsequential things. I used to think that by writing, I could show you the “real” me, to lay bare the very things that I cannot reveal with my stranger’s face and my labyrinthine body.

But I still harbour a boy’s hopes and dreams, that I will be understood, in a true fashion, and that strangeness, in every way, will be regarded beautiful.


They’re All Just Words

Sometimes it’s not enough.

Do Nothing, Be Everything

Sometimes all you really need to do is have fun, and not care about being the most creative, the most avant-garde, or the next new flavour on the block. It’s not even about being better than the next photographer who drops names like Annie Leibovitz, Richard Avedon or Mario Testino.

It’s not even about getting better at it.

And it’s okay even if you don’t know what you’re doing. Take the big leap. Take that first step. Take that tiny gasp into the unknown. You never know when you’ll stumble into something wonderful or extraordinary, like a special laugh, or a perfect moment, or a facet of yourself you hadn’t realised before.

Just never lose that joy of discovery, of being able to laugh at yourself, that inner knowing that the next day will be better, and brighter. When you let go of the unnecessary things, like one-upping, or comparison, or self-criticism, of needing to perform to some imaginary standard, you start to breathe easy. Live light.

Because when you learn to see through His eyes, and nothing will ever look old or ordinary. It is always beautiful.

So these are things I want to remind myself of every day.

by Yosh

*    *    *

“The dogmas of the quiet past are  inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion… As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves and then we shall save our country.”

The Single Word

There is a word in the Old Testament that is very dear to me. If anything, it is that single word that makes being a writer of any sense at all to me. Not even my heroes, Murakami or Ennis, or any other literary greats who have moved me in ways too deeply to expound now, like Kundera, Cunningham, Gaiman, and countless more, could persuade me to ever style myself a writer.

One word.

It is that one word that becomes my anchor. A silver hook that tethers my entire being to where I am now, writing this, stealing words as quickly as they come to me. One word pegs down my soul and holds captive my dreams.

One word.

It  is almost ridiculous to suggest the inherent power of a single word. But there it is. Words are powerful. Words give shape to ideas, to pictures, to a thousand possibilities.  The world itself came to being with a single word.

As I spent quiet time just earlier, it dawned on me how poetic to me were some of my favourite books in the Old Testament. There was a majesty to it, an intricacy contained in those verses that only men of skill can weave. And then I realised that these anointed men, these messianic prophets, wrote like that because they were given the vision of the Saviour to come. They had no way of tasting that goodness, that pure joy; so they, in their Spirit-inspired moments, could only write them out, in psalms and verse, so enamoured of the One that they had no way of knowing their very words would last forever.

“My heart is overflowing with a good theme;
I recite my composition concerning the King;
My tongue is the pen of a ready writer. “

Psalms 45:1

A Song For Our Fathers

This is a post I’ve been afraid to write for three years.

Maybe this is as good a time as any. Maybe not. Do I have anything different to say, three years later? I don’t know. But even with all this time passed, it hasn’t got any easier.

It’s never easy, trying to remember things best left as long-buried memories.  Forget what people tell you. Forget what you know. Forget your walls and your defenses, forget your resolutions and remonstrances. Forget everything.

And then remember.

Reach in and rummage through the soft detritus of your heart, the frail and stubborn sting of regrets, the foolish escapades of youth, the smiles of long-gone former lovers; find that place, that place that belongs to you and God alone: it’s a place inside of you that cannot be written into words, nor spun into song, not even shared with fellow sufferers. I know some of you have lost a father, or a mother, but I cannot know the same pain as you do.

This place — it’s a place where there will be no future memories. It’s a place where my children will never know their grandfather. It’s a place where I will look at that empty seat at the tea ceremony, the glaring absence in the customary family photograph, and the surge of anguish will strike my heart when I least expect it.

Words, eventually, become useless. But I want to remember, even if words are the only things left in me that can somehow allow my memory of him to live on, to continue.

My father never enjoyed the limelight. There’s this oft-repeated line of his that he once said, when asked why he never sought to get published: “I write not because I want to make a name for myself, but because I have something to say.”

I am the same in that respect, I imagine, preferring to remain in the background, behind the camera, behind a wall of words. I like to think that of all my siblings, I am the one most like him: heavily-built, loving everything to do with words, fascinated by the camera, reticient. To me, he was a towering figure, a mountain of a man, hewn out of solid oak. To see him wasted away by cancer was one of the most painful things I had to witness. He was featherlight, with chapped skin over protuding bones, when I lifted him from his bed, it was a shock that reverberated throughout my entire being.

It’s a sobering thing.

Now that it’s been three years since I last wrote, what is it that I can tell you? What’s different? What’s changed? Would you be proud of the man I am today, of the man I am going to be? The choices I have made, the things I have done?

I have no answers tonight. Not even my words, that fail me so terribly now, drifting into empty spaces.

A few days ago, I had a conversation with a friend about the musical:

“The leads are the stars, and the stage is their sky.” I said. “So that’s where they belong.”

“Then what about the directors, the songwriters, the crew that makes everything happen? Are they not above the stars when they paint the sky?”

“No. They can be above the stars if they like,” I replied. “But I’ll be the earth, the ground the people can walk or lie on, to watch the skies, gaze at the stars.”

Maybe that is why I can call myself my father’s son.

There Is Only One Way Out

do not go to raven high

Wow, three months already? It seems I am writing in quarterly spans of time. Not exactly a good thing. And with it being so long since I last wrote, the words are strangely silent and elusive.

It’s time to get back to reading again.

But back to my point: this Friday, eight in the evening, begins the end of a journey that started back in October last year. Numerous evenings spent in the basement foodcourt of Cineleisure, as we came up with story idea after story idea. Samson? Period drama? Pillars? Cries of vengeance? Exotic, alluring women? And everything just funnelled into something terribly simple: a school. Gangs. Drugs. And of course, love. Love enough.

I started this with nothing. I kept telling myself, I’m a prose writer, durn it! Not a script writer. I just like watching movies. That doesn’t make me an authority of any degree possible on scriptwriting! And a MUSICAL, no less.

But God takes you, as I learnt today, out of your comfort zones, out of your carefully fabricated sense of safety, when He takes over. But he brings people to walk this journey with you; people He similarly raises up, with perfected strength in our weakness, fellow children of God, kings and queens all — and He shows us, beyond the shadow of doubt, why He is also the Creative God.

One night, during one of our prayer sessions, He said to me: Tell them that I am a God of Wonder.

Wonder. Amazement. Awe. Stealing gasps from gaping mouths. Sharp intakes of breath. Reeling minds. Scaling past our imaginations.

I believe, with all of my heart, I will see a God of Wonder this coming Friday and Saturday. And I know that the first and only words that will come out of my mouth, even if they only palely evoke the depth and richness of all that I feel when I experience the fierce gentleness of His presence, will be ‘Thank You’.

I never imagined myself to shoot film, or even photography, for that matter. All my life, I only ever wanted to write, a passion that has stuck by me ever since childhood.
A whole rush of emotions flooded in and through me as I watched the trailer play on screen, in that crimson-hued semi-darkness; what was it, I thought,  was it pride? Jitters, sadness, fear, relief? Joy?

Yosh said she noticed that I would always wonder what people thought when I created something, be it art, photography, film, writing; I don’t deny it. But I don’t think it’s a search for self-affirmation as if I’m collecting plaudits to put on my imaginary shelf of achievements and accomplishments. It’s a yearning to know what you, if you did, feel after reading, watching or looking at it. It’s because what you say matters to me. What you feel matters to me. And my heart, always, if it were possible, would be to always listen. Always.
So with this trailer comes a huge sense of relief, and inevitably the question, What’s next?

The Future is Rend Collective Experiment

Rend Collective Experiment (RCE) is the future. I’ve noticed that I’ve been saying that a lot lately — be it about the iPhone or iPad or the ebbs and flows of social media — but RCE here is the real deal.

Imagine this: the Rend Collective is a bolt of blue, a breath of fresh air, a streak of light across a night sky. Throwing out what we understand about modern worship out of the window, right with the baby and bathwater. Completely redefining what we consitute about the ‘sound’ of worship, infusing a whole new sense of what it should be like, and presenting with such honesty, realness and verve. Oh, I could wax lyrical about their music the whole day long if I had to. But more than that, more than the bright-eyed, whimsical musings of star-struck wonder, more than just plain good music, you can touch, feel, experience the joy of the Lord reverberating through their notes and melody.

What truly sets RCE apart is the sense of freedom that propels their music, best expressed in ‘Movements’ — in which the video perfectly illustrates their sound — it’s the liberation, the elevated joy, that we possess because of Jesus. No longer prisoners of sin but of hope. What would your reaction be if you, a slave born to a life of servitude, wretchedness and death, were told that, ‘You are set free from your slavery, your bonds are undone; you are now a king, a beloved son, and all that is in the kingdom is now yours’? Would you not shout, dance and sing? Would you not give praise to the One who broke the chains, bought you liberty?

What RCE does is reveal that freedom and that joy. And it is all too evident in their music. Like in ‘You Bled‘, it’s a song of praise, of exultant worship, contemplative but without the sombre weight that accompanies most of the music we hear from Christian bands nowadays. It’s a celebration. One that frees you to be who you are, whoever you may be, but also welcomes you with open arms; it’s not a commission or an exhortation, but an invitation! Worship in the Father’s house is always one that includes and never excludes. We are brothers and sisters all, each different and every one unique, all belonging.

And there is always dancing, that expression of pure joy, that spreads and suffuses every inch of your being, that you can’t help but sing and smile and move; united together with the sharing of that same rich exhiliration that can only come with the revelation of the price and purpose of Jesus’ sacrifice of love. It’s faith and hope and love, wrapped into one person, expressed in this music. Community.

Rend Collective Experiment shows us a whole new way of expressing worship. ‘Radical’ is not the word. Nor is ‘transcendent’. But it is real. And inclusive. And maybe that’s what we need to know most about God.

P.S There is so much to be said about the individual videos as well. iPhone worship is one example of their boundary-breaking efforts. I love their use of brass instruments, the collective scenes of fun and celebration (in ‘Movements’ and in the end of ‘You Bled’), and the mash-ups of old hymns in ‘You Bled’ (How wonderful/how marvellous and Yes, Jesus loves me) and the narrative of children. How it alludes to how we must approach the things of God like a child, and how God is best seen through their eyes of simple faith and open hearts.