Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Cirque Du Soleil - From Obsession to Reality

I will never deny my acute appetite for Cirque du Soleil, a Canadian organization which reinvented the unappealing old circus and as a result gained world-wide recognition. But I have never imagined that I would be given the chance to imitate some of Cirque's acts to which I, unlike Cirque, received rounded mockery and humiliation from the unappreciative friends. It started out as a stupid prank during my 10-days road trip with five other friends, and we managed to keep the folly till the very end of the trip. Here are the collection of our bitter hard work and hopefully they will come out to you as a series of our serious endeavor to present the gist of Cirque du Soleil.

We call it: Cirque du Lamar. Now, allow me to present our cover picture.

We believe in the importance of a cover and we take it seriously!! This image represents the essence of Cirque du Lamar, we are all about the beast shown: powerful yet swift, sturdy yet acrobatic. At the same time, the image also reveals our value: we love animals! (and I believe the model's stern expression portrays that better than my words)

Now, without further ado, please enjoy the snippets of our acts!!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Living in a Fellowship - Ministry House

It was out of nonchalance that I decided to move in to the so-called Ministry House almost a year ago. Since then, I can confidently declare that the hasty decision is one of the life-changing decisions that I've ever made. It almost seems audacious to make such claim; that moving into a house of six could actually be such substantial, but here I am, sharing a tip of the iceberg of my experiences and elucidating why there is not even a hint of audacity on such claim but rather a very natural one.

Allow me to make a very circular argument by first stating that humans are not designed to be self-autonomous. In fact, we are hard-wired to be in a community, in a fellowship of self-giving and other-centeredness. To take a simple example, Christopher McCandless, an American adventurer, who has been living in solitude and an off-civilization life for three months, came to a realization of how unreal that kind of life was. On his last journal, he noted that "happiness is real only when shared".

That quote hit me hard. To some degree, I can identify with Christopher McCandless. I may not be fearless enough to go to live in Alaska, but once I dreamed of a secluded and solitary life for my retirement, far from the hustling and bustling of city life and friends or neighbors who constantly impose disturbances. Ministry house, in all its simplicity, debunks that belief; the virtue of independence that once I highly regard is now the object of of my derision.

Our God is a relational and communal God and since we are created in His image, we share those characteristics. Living with six brothers allows me to taste the sweetness of being in an other-centered fellowship and foretaste the beauty of heaven. Borrowing Tim Keller's image of divine love, in other centeredness love, "we enter into a dynamic orbit around him or her, we center on the interests and desires of the other". When six people revolve around one another with love, "that creates a dynamic, pulsating dance of joy and love." When I have been exposed to this higher standard, the idea of a solitary life seems too preposterous.

For example, when I was still doing my undergrad study, I voluntarily packed my schedule with back to back classes, sometimes even up to 9.30pm. Why? Because I draw my significance from the sense of accomplishment of achieving something beneficial that day, I bask in the glory of being effective and useful. However, the glory was short-lived. Once the satisfaction waned, I felt like there was something missing. The satisfaction could not fill a deeper void in my heart. My response, surprisingly, was incredulous; Instead of admitting that there's a problem to be fixed, I brushed it off and look forward to achieve something more tomorrow - more readings, more writings, more working out, etc.

Apparently, I was living out my individualistic lifestyle while striving forward to effectively achieve my goals and my sense of significance. On the outset, isn't this what all the business books adamantly preach - isn't this good - what's wrong with this picture? Ministry house helps me to see the answer, and it was found in each individual in the house. All of this while, I did not live up to my identity as a relational human being and voluntarily cut myself off from developing a close relationship with friends and brothers in the house.

However, living in the house where territory is undefined and all rooms are common areas, it is impossible to keep anyone at arm's length. People will come to my room to share and talk. I still remember several occasions where this happened; one or two people gathered together in the living room or anywhere, the conversation began to draw more people and it actually led to a very invigorating late-night conversation. The same thing goes to our weekly prayer meeting; I witness the fellowship of brothers in which people share their struggle, confess their sins, encourage one another - the conversation was just soaked with love.

Having experienced this, it is illogical to deny that a brotherly fellowship is much more satisfying and fulfilling. It helps me to have a closer and deeper relationships, it provides me with opportunities to practice God's love, and it gives me a fulfilling life. A life of love and being loved. Serve and being served. A life in which you can rest your head at night, and smile widely and gratefully just at the thought of how life can be so beautiful. A life with God.