Psalm 92

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We sing a song patterned after Psalm 92 in church. With the flute, keyboard, and the excellent singing of our church’s worship team; I can’t help but be overwhelmed. It is a beautiful song. It is a beautiful psalm, full of gratefulness and joy.

The Psalmist exclaims, “How great are your works, O Lord! Your thoughts are very deep!” (Psalm 92:5). It comforts the Psalmist that although he doesn’t understand everything that’s going on, he knows that the God he worships does great work and is great! He is so full of awe that he wants to “declare [God’s]steadfast love in the morning and [His]steadfast love by night” (verse 2).

That the righteous are rewarded by the Lord in the end also brings comfort to the Psalmist. The righteous “flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon” (verse 12). “They still bear fruit in old age; they are every full of sap and green” (verse 14).

I often wonder what will become of me when I grow old, if the Lord allows it. But I surely hope I’ll become fruitful, my lips forever praising my God, my heart bursting with thanksgiving and joy.

Getting old by the day

MY FATHER complained he wasn't feeling too well. Days ago, he let himself be dragged by my two other brothers to a bowling match. Of course I didn't care to join; I was sleepy, having just left the hospital after a 24-hour shift. My brothers thought I just didn't want to end up the lowest pointer. They were all insistent that I join. My father even volunteered to be on the same team with me. Tatay's first shot was a strike. When we got home, he complained of back pains.

"Your Tatay is getting old," confessed my mother. "I shouldn't overwork him."

"Yes, Nay. You make all sorts of demands," we said.

My mother smiled.

The fact is that my parents now carry their senior citizen card, a badge of distinction for them, an excuse to buy that extra dessert or watch that new movie. They're getting older by the day.

How do I encourage them, as well as the rest of the old people I work with?

R. Paul Stevens writes:

Aging people experience progressive losses: parents, friends, colleagues, career, driver’s license, and perfect health. Then life-threatening health challenges are encountered, usually heart disease or cancer. And finally, there is the certainty of death.

In these realities, though, there are implicit spiritual incentives to grow. Here are three ways to encourage and exhort the aging.
It's summarized in three points:
Experience intensification
Embrace simplification
Cultivate (practical) heavenly-mindedness
Read the rest of the article here.

Ash turned to diamond



The quiet was disturbed by the sound of chisels striking stone. The gravediggers removed a metal plaque, then a cement wall, and, finally, a brick façade. More than an hour later, they hit what they were looking for: an oxidized copper urn, filled with the ashes of Luis Barragán, one of Mexico’s greatest architects, who died in 1988. They removed the urn from the cavity, brushing off dust and ants. Then they opened the vessel and presented it to Magid, who scooped out half a kilo of what looked like dirt and transferred it to a plastic bag, which she then put into a box. The next day, with the box in her carry-on, she flew home to New York.
The famous architect, Luis Barragán, was turned into a diamond. This created a lot of talk regarding morality, ethics, and such. The plan was to exchange the diamond for the precious archives of the architect's work, now heavily guarded by a private entity based in Switzerland. This is an excellent piece by Alice Gregory in The New Yorker.

Social media fast, and you miss nothing much

One of my web heroes, Jason Kottke, writes about his social media fast.

"Last week (approx. May 7-14), I stopped using social media for an entire week. I logged out of all the sites and deleted the apps from my phone. I didn’t so much as peek at Instagram, which is, with Twitter and old-school Flickr, probably my favorite online service of all time. I used Twitter as minimally as I could, for work only. I didn’t check in anywhere on Swarm. No Facebook. As much as I could, I didn’t use my phone. I left it at home when I went to the grocery store. I didn’t play any games on it. I left it across the room when I went to bed and when I worked."
He continues, as a footnote:
"Still one of my favorite tweets is from Scott Simpson: “My new standard of cool: when I’m hanging out with you, I never see your phone ever ever ever.”"
He concludes:
"After the week was up, I greedily checked in on Instagram and Facebook to see what I had missed. Nothing much, of course. Since then, I’ve been checking them a bit less. When I am on, I’ve been faving and commenting more in an attempt to be a little more active in connecting."

On memory

Memory is a mutable element, fickle in its suggestibility. It can be tricked to expand far beyond its true bounds, and yet, if overburdened, is liable to shut down altogether.—Alexandra Schwartz, "The Unforgotten: Patrick Modiano's Mysteries"

I'm reading Honeymoon by Patrick Modiano. I'm almost halfway through the book. The sentences are clear; it's quite an easy read. Jean B. tricks his wife and colleagues into thinking he's going to Brazil; but he stays put and hides in Paris, planning to uncover the mysteries of a woman named Ingrid, who, years before, had committed suicide in a hotel in Milan.



I was reading about Patrick Modiano and found the quote about how memory is mutable and trick-able. Who was it who said that pen and paper is better than sharpest memory? That's the reason why I blog and write on journals, too. The same reason that God ordered the Israelites to make memorial stones, lest His people forget Him.

Why so many blogs are awful


I've been blogging since 2004, and Tim Challies' article, "Nobody Respects A Blogger," is a beautiful reminder of why I do the things I do.

So why do people blog? In many cases, it’s to build a platform, to gather a following that can then earn the right to graduate to one of the more honorable media. Many people consider blogging a means to an end, not a worthwhile end in itself. Blogging is a kind of minor leagues, a proving ground, and those who prove themselves as bloggers may then advance to the big leagues—book deals, plumb conference spots, columns in magazines. The blog is the necessary evil, the rising platform that eventually elevates them from obscurity to respectability. 

And this is exactly why so many blogs are so awful.
Read more here.

Offensive

To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things.—1 Corinthians 4:11–13

Who was this man Paul—perhaps one of the smartest, wisest men who ever walked the earth—and why did he write these things? Whenever I read his letters, I wonder how he must have been like in real life. I imagine Paul to be very intellectual and academic, perhaps a bit intimidating, a no-nonsense man who was well-connected and famous in the most elite of circles. He was, at one point, feared because he led the prosecution of the early Christians; so I imagine Paul as a very serious man, who got quite scary when he was proving a point.

He had everything the world could offer, and he threw these all away, when the Lord Jesus Christ revealed Himself to him. He would leave everything behind to follow, live for, and even die for Jesus; and his epistles would form much of the New Testament, and offer direction and guidance to the establishment of the church.

Despite his accomplishments in the faith, Paul knew that the world would think him foolish. He didn’t mind being called a fool. The present reality is similar in that Christianity—biblical, orthodox Christianity—is folly to the world, standing in opposition to the current tides of thinking and way of life.

Smart kid

If, theoretically, you had a gifted child—someone who could solve problems mentally, without pen and paper; who already knew calculus before her classmates could even read or write—would you hide her under the radar or let the entire world know about her? Would you send her to a normal school or enroll her to prestigious institutions, where she can be mentored by the world’s best?

I’m asking these questions because I had just watched Gifted. Nothing is spectacular about it, story-wise—it was as predictable as Maalala Mo Kaya episodes in ABS–CBN—except that I really, thoroughly enjoyed it.

To see a kid get bored by one-plus-one drills in class; standing up for a bullied classmate by smashing the nose of the bully; keeping quiet in moments when her intellect is called for, just because her uncle had advised her to keep her mouth shut lest she look like a smartass—that was fun. She is an adult trapped in a kid's body, but a kid, nevertheless. Who is this toothless kid? I love her. (I searched: her name is McKenna Grace).

On call

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THE NIGHT before her flight, Nanay tells me she has low back pain.

“Is it just my posture?” she asks at 11 PM. “It aches when I sleep with my back flat.”

I tell her I’ll have a look. “That’s nothing,” I say. I see a faint redness near her lower spine that’s painful when pressed for a long time. The lesion can be musculoskeletal, or probably a consequence of her prolonged steroid use, which is notorious for making her bones weak. She’s been taking dexamethasone for months now.

But Nanay has a healthy doubt for all the things I tell her, always interpreting everything I say with a grain of salt. This, after med school and residency training. The thought comforts me, like the fact that she still revises everything—speeches, notes, letters—she makes me write for her.

She and Tatay land safely in General Santos. Sean, my younger brother, meets them at the airport and drives them back to Marbel. While at the ICU, I hear my phone vibrate—my mother, calling in the afternoon, a highly unusual occurrence, because she knows I’m busy.

“It looks like shingles,” Nanay says. “It’s painful.”

Sweltering heat

THE website was down for a few days. My domain host failed to receive any notices from me that my renewal fee had been paid a day before deadline. But now it’s up and running, and my blog is 13 years old, give or take two months. Thanks for being here. It still amazes me to know that this space here is older than many kids I see in church. They were still being contemplated, while I was already posting selfies, and “selfie” wasn’t a thing yet.

My traffic has markedly gone down after I’ve decided to quit posting links from Facebook, a platform that I’ve long felt to be antithetical to my dreams of living a quiet and peaceful life, what with the many, many things being posted there—namely, people eating in restaurants, political view points I can only disagree with, and a few useful ones, which are the exception rather than the rule. I’ve logged on occasionally to communicate with old friends or to honor my mother’s wishes of checking out the latest about her batch mates from high school.

It is so hot in Manila that I need to hydrate myself once in a while. It’s a good thing I’m at the ICU now, where temperatures are friendlier, and the air-conditioning hasn’t bogged down—not yet. Please, not ever; not in this heat.

Still, we have plenty of reasons to be joyful, like this fun-looking, friendly man I saw inside a café's bathroom.

Such a fun-looking man. Anyone knows who he is?