Thursday, January 31, 2019

Before work

Before work

It is quiet at 4 am. I brew a cup of espresso, reheat the ensaymada given yesterday by a colon cancer patient now in remission (praise God!), and start my devotions. I turn my iPad on and scroll through the ESV app. Ephesians 2--that glorious chapter. That life-changing "but" that has given me, and so many others, hope and eternal security.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—

My heart cries out, "Thank you, Lord!" I have seen too much human suffering the day before. I need perspective, clarity, and hope. The secular world does not have these things, but Scripture does. This is where I should be looking.

The ensaymada is delicious, imbued with the perfect softness, layered with melted cheese that has begun to crunch. The coffee keeps my stomach warm. My pen glides with green ink on soft, unlined, Japanese paper in cream. My day has begun. I wish you safety and joy.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

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National Handwriting Day!


Written using Vintage Parker Duofold (ca. 1930s) in Sheaffer turquoise ink—among my life’s miscellaneous joys.

I found in vintage pens a marriage of my fascination for fountain pens and history. During the Christmas break, I discovered eBay, the online marketplace, repository of all things old and new. It has been recommended by Dr. Butch Dalisay, whose fountain pen collection is a continual source of admiration.

I tried my hands at the auctions—a relatively harmless pursuit, I supposed, something I considered similar to haggling, only with a computer and sans the chatter. It took me a while to learn the ropes. I lost many times. There was joy in that, too, because the process left me with the possibility that I could win—what if nobody else cared for that 1930 Parker Duofold or that rotting model of a Vacumatic? What if I could get the pens at a low price?

Part of the thrill was the existence of these what-ifs. Another was the possibility of holding in my hand, shipped from elsewhere, a piece of history, a metallic object with a 14K gold nib, bearing scratches and pigmentations from way before World War Two had even begun. I won.

More than three weeks later (because I picked the cheapest shipping option), our office secretary received notice that I had a parcel to retrieve from the Post Office. I braved the Metro Manila traffic, entered for the first time the old, decrepit Post Office Building, and got the vintage pen of my dreams.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Sunday, January 20, 2019

The pilgrimage

A great blessing in my Christian walk is the weekly fellowship I have with brothers from Pilgrim Cell. This quote from Stephen Charnock's The Doctrine of Regeneration, a massive piece of theological treatise and exposition (I'm only halfway through!), resonates with the fact that Christians who walk on this earth are on a pilgrimage.

Use the world as travellers an inn, to lodge, not to dwell in, to accommodate you in your journey to that Father of whom you were born. Let a heaven-born nature be attended with heavenly flights, longing for that happy state wherein nothing but the divine nature shall be seen in union, as nothing but fire is seen in melted gold.

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Taiwan, December 2017

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Friday, January 18, 2019

Genesis 1:11

January 2019

Scribbled using a J. Herbin Verte Ink with TWSBI Diamond 580 1.1 mm stub nib. Too bad the hospital doesn't allow other colors in the chart except blue and black.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

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My mother's little project

I've asked my mother, who refuses to engage in social media and warns me not to post indiscriminately about her, to take random photos every day. I installed a Flickr app on her phone and iPad, and configured them to automatically upload all photos taken when she is connected to the internet. She has retired from her private practice but occasionally sees old patients for some minor dental work. Otherwise, she refers her patients to Sean and spends time indoors, with her huge flat screen TV perpetually connected to Netflix. Our conversation revolves on the series she has watched; she calls them "season-season," having learned that some items there require more than one week to finish. She sometimes prefers watching films and has sampled all sorts of them, with languages as varied as the French, Spanish, Turkish (her favorite), and now, she tells me, Korean. She also does a lot of gardening, which involves her telling Auntie Nanic, her cousin who lives with her, to transfer her potted plants from one corner to another. She has finished all the books I've asked her to read. This she can do because she has all the time in the world. I warned her that her lifestyle is sedentary. Save for her daily walks in the neighborhood, her home visits to the sick and dying, and her Bible study classes in church, she is mostly at home.

I've asked her to begin a photo project, in the hopes of getting her out of her room and into the world. I don't have permission yet to post some photos she has taken, but I did not know she is taking our little hobby seriously. Here she is, taking a photo of "ferns attached to the coconut tree," marveling the serenity of the gardens of her long-time friends the Figueroas. Many thanks to Auntie Liza Dayot--who also owns a beautiful farm place in Banga, South Cotabato--for sharing this photo of Nanay.

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Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

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All our good is in God

Jonathan_Edwards

When midnight struck, I had a meal with my brothers, walked out to St. Paul Street to find some neighbors watching the fireworks, and returned to the bedroom with my Kindle at hand. The book was Selected Sermons of Jonathan Edwards, edited by H. Norman Gardiner. It was printed in 1904 by the MacMillan Company, but I downloaded mine from Project Gutenberg.

A theologian in New England and considered as America's foremost intellectual and spiritual thinker (a shame that we don't year a lot about him as often), he considered himself primarily a preacher. In the book's foreword is a description of his work.

Even in his most terrific sermons he never appeals to mere hope and fear, nor to mere authority; in them, as in his theological treatises, he is bent on demonstrating, within the limits prescribed by the underlying assumptions, the reasonableness of his doctrine, its agreement with the facts of life and the constitution of things, as well as with the inspired teachings of the Word.

I can only imagine hearing him preach. YouTube hadn't been discovered then. But his pupil, Hopkins, offers us a glimpse of the manner of Jonathan Edwards's preaching.

His appearance in the desk was with a good grace, and his delivery easy, natural and very solemn. He had not a strong voice, but appeared with such gravity and solemnity, and spake with such distinctness, clearness and precision, his words were so full of ideas, set in such a plain and striking light, that few speakers have been able to demand the attention of an audience as he . . . He made but little motion of his head or hands in the desk, but spake as to discover the motion of his own heart, which tended in the most natural and effectual manner to move and affect others. . . He carried his notes into the desk with him, and read the most that he wrote; yet he was not so confined to his notes, when he wrote at large, but that, if some thoughts were suggested, while he was speaking, which did not occur when writing, and appeared to him pertinent and striking, he would deliver them; and that with as great propriety, and oftener with greater pathos, and attended with a more sensible good effect on his hearers, than all he had wrote.

The first sermon, God Glorified in Man's Dependence (1731), moved me as Jonathan Edwards's sermons generally would.

How many times this year did I find myself at the end of my strength, and in such moments, how often did God carry me through?

I write this now, with the comforts of personal restropection, because 2018 was the hardest year of my life to date: my grandmother passed away in January, my uncle Papa Eddie in March, and my father in May. Jonathan Edwards, preaching from 1 Corinthians 1:29–31, said to his congregation, and is saying to me now, hundreds of years later, by way of a timeless reminder that only books are able to accomplish:

The redeemed have all their good in God. We not only have it of him, and through him, but it consists in him; he is all our good.
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