Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Smashed Clay

One of my greatest joy in marriage is to have a husband who does not mind my weirdness (too much). When we were dating, I refused to call him my "boyfriend" because I did not want to sound like I was in high school. Calling him my "partner" did not sound right either, due to contextual associations. So, he suffered being called my "gentleman-friend" for the two-years we were dating.

The things he had to put up with!

The year we got engaged, I took a class on the woman writers of ancient China. We were required to study many of the works by writers who were concubines, courtesans, as well as wives who had to share their husband or lover with other women.

Now, I am a reasonable person. I have no fear that Hans would do anything of that sort, like taking more than one wife, but I took great pleasure in warning him that I will not tolerate such behavior. I am all the woman he can handle, after all. And I read this story to him:

(the first copy of this is dated around the 1600s, though legend has it that this was first written much earlier)

One day, Zhao Mengfu said this to his wife Lady Guan:

I am a Secretary,
You are a lady.
You must have heard that
Secretary Tao has his Peach Leaf and Peach Root,
Secretary Su had his Morning Cloud and Evening Cloud,
Now if I could obtain a few
Maidens of Wu and beauties of Yue, it would befit my position.
you are already over forty years of age,
Yet in this jade hall you still want to monopolize Spring!

Lady Guan replied with the following poem:

You and I
Share an ardent passion.
When passion is ardent,
It burns like fire.
Take one lump of clay
Knead one you,
Sculpt one me.
Smash them both into pieces,
Mix them with water,
Knead another you,
Sculpt another me:
In my clay there is you,
In your clay there is me.
In life you and I share a single coverlet,
In death a single grave!

I still read this to him once in a while. And I take great pleasure in emphasizing the fire, the smashing, death, and the grave. The things he has to put up with!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

While I watch him sleep

One of my favorite things about night time is Emeth's sleeping face. Those cheeks regularly inspire Hans to tip his entire body over the crib like a seesaw. With his feet high in the air, he kisses his son.

Before Emeth invaded our lives, I used to think the phrase "forgive and forget" was a little, um,... optimistic? Even now, when I ask for forgiveness for certain repeated sins, my heart wavers. Cold doubts about the sincerity of my own repentance, not to mention God's ability to accept this feeble apology, oppress me as I know I am likely to fall again.

Since his coming, I discovered a strange and wonderful grace. While I watch my child sleep, I have a hard time recalling the difficulties of the day. How many times I reprimanded him and why, and the messes he created -- they seem so far away I can barely hold them in my thought. The fact is, I don't want to remember. He has repented, kissed me, and said sorry. Each morning brings such sweet reunion as I am reminded of how much I love his smile.

If the Lord grants human parents this capacity to forgive, how much more should we trust in his promise cleanse us from our filth. He removes our sins far, far away -- as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:8-14). He is faithful to forgive.

It is our foolish hearts that continue to hold on to these sins, or as my professor says, keep them as pets. Once in a while, we take them out of our pockets and admire them, caress them, feed them. One day, we shall find monsters, capable to consume and kill.

Flee, O heart, from evil affections! Your Lord and Father, the Merciful and Compassionate, has removed your sins from you. Believe this and live, far away from all unrighteousness.

Friday, January 1, 2010


It has been too long. I haven't seen the ocean since our honeymoon back in June 2006. On this New Year's Eve, its waves and vastness is what my heart longs for.

In an Edwardsian manner, I hereby declare a strange resolution:

Resolved, to have a heart like the ocean. By the grace and mercy of Christ, knowing I cannot do anything apart from him, I resolve to be like the ocean. Lord, do expand this puddle-like heart of mine.

This is, unsurprisingly, a Hans-inspired metaphor. If one's heart has the depth and width of a puddle, it would not take much to disturb one’s peace. A little ripple, however, can hardly affect deep waters.

This is true for many things I am (painfully) learning.

When Emeth is not behaving even after a full-day of discipline, may my love enclose him as I sing to him before tucking him in.
When things are not going as planned, may I keep my composure for a few coming waves.
When storms of doubt and anger roll by, may the depth of my soul remain quiet and tranquil.
When dishing are piling, homework undone, may hope remain steadfast.
When people change, irritate, and offend, may my soul be still, trusting in the unchanging kindness of my God.

The peace of heart lies ultimately in Christ, the one who holds the ocean in the fold of his garment (Proverbs 30:4).