Sunday, December 28, 2008
What a way to clinch this year - a year-end retreat in Santa Barbara with my old and newfound friends! I must say that the whole time I was there, my feelings were fluctuating and seemed to be swinging back and forth - between joy and sadness. For the most part I was really overwhelmed with grateful rejoicing ... thankful to God for wonderful friends that my wife and I are privileged to have. As I looked around me during the retreat, I couldn't help but feel blessed by the presence of very supportive friends, true spiritual companions on the journey. Yet at the same time, I couldn't deny the tinge of sadness realizing that many of these friends would no longer be a regular part of our circle because we are leaving our church community very soon. I realize that they'll still be around and we'll still be around ourselves but things are definitely going to be different. I have to learn to live with that "difference." I savored every moment of our conversations together. They were so rich and rewarding. My heart was so warmed by their kind words of support and encouragement even as my wife and I embark on this new road ahead of us. Truly, our time consisted of "holy conversations" - the kind that could only happen when hearts willingly and openly "companion" each other in a sacred sort of way. I am a blessed person! I eagerly anticipate a more blessed new year with an even more expansive community that I believe God would open up for us! I just know!
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Suddenly I woke up! After tossing back and forth for a while, I decided to get up. Looked at my watch and it's exactly 3 am! Oh no ... one of those 3 am wake-up calls? Must've been the prime rib steak I ate during our church Xmas party! But I know better than that. I went straight to my study room and briefly prayed. Now I'm blogging about my thoughts. It's slowly hitting me. After the farewell blessings at the church service yesterday and the staff Christmas party last night, I'm now becoming more conscious of the fact that I'm really leaving the church. I watched all the familiar faces last night and I know after Jan. 15, things are no longer going to be the same. I'm going to miss a lot of people, a lot of friends. Thank God for the gifts of friendship, for the gift of community! I am a grateful person indeed! Even as I acknowledged the wave of sadness I felt, I remember Henri Nouwen's insights about turning my loneliness into solitude. I also thought about his idea of moving from solitude to community. It dawned on me: God will soon usher me into a new community and there's reason to be expectant. I am starting to look back now (already) but I'm also beginning to look forward to something new and beautiful!
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Whether functioning as a spiritual friend, guide, mentor, or director, Henri Nouwen engaged in the integrative work of soul care. His ministry of integration flowed from his, albeit "imperfect," spirituality. Henri Nouwen and Soul Care: A Ministry of Integration makes a fitting companion to my earlier work Henri Nouwen: A Spirituality of Imperfection.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
It's almost four in the afternoon and my day here in Orange County is about to come to an end. I drove up here early this morning with Juliet who attends a monthly spiritual direction session hosted by the Center for Spiritual Development. To maximize the time, I set up a couple of appointments and brought stuff I can work on while here including my computer. One appointment fell through but as it turned out I had good lunch fellowship with some of the students undergoing the training at the Center. I spent much of the morning grading the final papers of my Fuller students and checking my Facebook once in a while. At 2 pm, I met up with a potential directee and it was a rich conversation. Looks like we're going to be journeying together starting the new year! At this moment while I'm writing my thoughts, I'm literally freezing (I feel like I'm a "frozen delight" in fact!). It's a quiet afternoon, perfect for a time of reflection. I've been thinking a lot about the future and the new opportunities right before me and I truly sense a different kind of excitement in the air. My work on Henri Nouwen is definitely paying off. I never thought I'd be so immersed into everything Nouwen but I'm loving it. To date, last I checked Facebook, there are over 65 avid Nouwen fans who have signed up to be a part of the Nouwen Legacy Associates (a web page I recently created to connect together folks who read Nouwen). I feel like my circle is ever-widening and that's so thrilling! My borders are getting enlarged as I embarked more and more in this work on Nouwen. I end this day with gratitude in my heart and deep assurance that I'm headed towards the right direction even though there are a lot of things yet unseen. I feel cold but my heart is anything but cold right now. God is warming up my heart as I brace myself for the future. If I may invoke the famous words of Julian of Norwich - "All is well,and all manner of things shall be well." And as the equally famous hymn goes... it is indeed "well with my soul."
Saturday, December 06, 2008
Yes, I'm back at LAX! This time I'm waiting to board my flight to Dallas, TX. I'm attending an old friend's memorial service. I feel so tired physically. I just finished an 8-hour retreat yesterday at Malibu. It was so rewarding an experience but I can feel the exhaustion because I'm sleep deprived. Today was another early wake-up time for me as I had to go to Loyola to teach a one-day class on Nouwen. Again, the whole thing turned out to be a super blessed time but I get this feeling that I'm almost about to fold up. Makes me seriously wonder whether I can hack another day without adequate sleep. But I needed to make this trip. My friend who died suddenly was someone I shared Christ with and mentored some 30 years ago. I felt real bad that I did not even get the chance to speak to him before he went into coma. Willy (yes, my namesake!) died peacefully last Wednesday. I wished I could've visited him before he passed away. I learned about his death just as I landed at LAX from my recent trip to Orlando. I barely have gotten over my jetlag and here am I making another trip again---and right after two consecutive Nouwen events. I'm grateful that God carried me through both events despite my weariness. Hopefully, I can recover from this seemingly crazy schedule next week. God's grace is sufficient and I'm claiming that. The joy of the Lord is my strength! Oh how I need to experience that at this very moment. I know I will!
Sunday, November 30, 2008
I'm here at LAX and it's about 9pm, an hour before I board my flight to Orlando. A month and a half from now, my life is about to take a different turn. Effective Jan. 15, I'm resigned from my position as Director of Community Formation at Evergreen Baptist Church, our home church for the past five years. It's a mixture of sadness and anticipation - that's how I've been feeling lately when I think about saying goodbye to the church, and most especially to our close friends. I made this hardnosed decision convinced that God is indeed redirecting me in terms of ministry focus. I'm leaving a job that has provided me with some steady income for a new direction that still has a lot of unknowns surrounding it. But I can see a foretaste of what is to come gauging from the many open doors I am slowly witnessing. I have this deepening conviction that God has called me to really invest much of my time and energy promoting the spiritual legacy of Henri Nouwen through continued writing, conducting classes, spiritual direction,retreats,workshops, seminars, etc. There's this indescribable feeling of fulfillment each time I find myself doing this kind of work; it's as though I'm called to do just that! For the most part I do experience peace of mind and heart that I'm treading the right path but I'd lie if I didn't admit that I had my moments of doubts too, especially where the issue of stability, financial stability crops up. But, I'm already burning my bridges, so to speak, and there's really no turning back anymore. God's not brought me this far to let me down. I'm making the choice to trust God all the way!
Saturday, November 29, 2008
I fly to Orlando tomorrow night and stay there for a few days. I'm gonna be working with Joel Dasalla, my friend in Orlando, who was responsible for designing the beautiful covers for my two books. We will be designing some promo ads for my latest book Henri Nouwen and Soul Care: A Ministry of Integration.