“I feel myself so far from true feeling of that I speak, that I can naught else but cry mercy and desire after it as I may.”

– Walter Hilton, Scale of Perfection I.

Okay. A concerted effort to get back to this blog. A lot has changed, a lot of new thoughts. Pen to paper, fingers to keyboard – by the grace of God, I WILL make this happen.

Batter my heart, three-person’d God; for you
           As yet, but knock, breathe, shine, and see to mend
That I may rise and stand, overthrow me, and bend
           Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.

– John Donne, Holy Sonnets

For those of you living outside of the Bay, BART stands for “Bay Area Rapid Transit” and as a heavy rail, it serves as a major mode of public transportation for a little over 350,000 riders on a daily basis. Quite impressive in many different ways. And yes, serving that many people means it gets busy and crowded and crazy at times, and forces me to wake up bright and early at 6:30AM so that I can get a decent parking space at the station in the morning.

And despite all that, I love it.

I honestly think it’s one of those “make-it-or-break-it” things for me living in a metropolitan area as populated as the Bay Area. For example, I am totally excited to go visit places like NYC and Seattle and Taipei because of the sheer convenience of moving through the city and visiting different places. On the other hand, I have very little desire to ever set foot in LA. For all of its culture and food and people and star-studded Hollywood-iness, it would take a good friend acting as my personal chauffeur for me to be okay with navigating around the city. City of Angels it may be, but unless everybody living there begins sprouting wings and their perpetual traffic problems begin to dissipate, I will be staying away.

But that’s not the only reason I love BART. Over the past year and a half, I’ve had the pleasure of making use of the amenities of such a glorious example of public transportation. And during that time, you begin to realize what a great metaphor it serves for life as whole. I live in Fremont, the southernmost end of the line. We head north through Union City, South Hayward, Hayward, and so on and so forth, and different people get on and different people get off. Sometimes you’ll see a fellow rider that you share a car with every single day, like these three sisters that get on the train at around 7:15AM and head up to Berkeley for private school of some sort. Or sometimes you’ll never see that person again, like that adorable baby that kept making faces at me from San Leandro to Oakland.  However long they join you, you are privileged to share a brief moment of your life with them, and then like life, they walk out of it just as quickly. Different people board and take those recently vacated seats, and the train moves ever forward.

You’ll get moments in life when things just move too fast and you can’t see anything outside the window. All you know is that at one point or another, you’ll hit another stopping point when the community of riders presently surrounding you will shift yet again.  Other times, like between Union City and Fremont when you look over Quarry Lakes, time slows and you experience the sweet blessing of sheer serenity and peace…..right before the chaos all starts back up again.

And as you walk out of the station, however frazzled or composed you may be by the trip, you are comforted by the somewhat cathartic reality that everybody around you also shared in that same experience.


Living in the Bay Area for the last two or so years has been an enormous blessing to me. After all the sunshine and lack of rain in glorious San Diego, I confess that I was getting a little tired of the absence of seasonal change and no matter how wonderful things were down there over four years of undergrad, SoCal has never really felt like home.

So, for the last two or so years, I have found myself thoroughly enjoying the rainy drizzles and infuriatingly cold NorCal mornings. (Yes, despite my four-week-long cold, I really have been [inwardly DEEP DOWN] pleased with this ridiculous cold spell that has kept us in the low 30s.) In fact, going to school in Oakland has brought me even closer to the cultural “action” of the Bay with its rich history, culture, and people, for which I am very grateful.

And when you talk about people in the Bay Area, you can’t NOT talk about the pervasive “hipster” culture that exists here.  The thick-rimmed glasses. The “fixie”/fixed gear bicycles. The mason jars. The coffee culture. The indie/folk/indie-folk bands. The ridiculously expensive but well-made clothes. The organic/super-healthy food/farmers’ markets. You couldn’t escape it if you wanted to.

And for the past two days, the Lord has been gently nudging me to examine the reasons why I personally have felt attracted to this expansive cultural phenomenon, despite my living in the Fremont suburbs. Why does this lifestyle, despite its lack of practicality (don’t kill me for saying that, but if you live in Fremont, you know its true), appeal to my heart?

(Perhaps I should have questioned why the Lord was putting it on my heart at all, since it’s a weird question to begin with. In hindsight, I’m glad I didn’t.)

So, of course, the answer, as many of them do nowadays, comes to me when I am showering.

The reason it appeals to me – perhaps the same reason it appeals to many people – is that the hipster culture gives imbues such meaning to the life that we lead here on this earth. I know it sounds weird at first, but hear me out. You take, for example, coffee – something that many people are familiar with. We drink it every day. In the 1990s, my parents used to do something many other people did at the time: pop open a canister of Folger’s instant coffee crystals, spoon some into a cup, and pour hot water. Wala!  (Is that even how you spell that?) You get the best part of waking up: halfway decent coffee!

But where’s the connection? Where’s the meaning to it? Starbucks and the television series Friends, in many ways, have been instrumental in bringing coffeehouse culture back, but for all of their commercialized success, they have failed to provide the sense of connection and relationship that people so desperately yearn for. (Which is ironic, since the show was called “Friends”.)

So, where are we now? Why, at the forefront of a coffee revolution! In the Bay Area alone, we have Four Barrel, Ritual, Sightglass, Blue Bottle, Philz, Ecco, Barefoot, Verve  – the list goes on and on. Gone are the days of “Arabica” being the mark of premium coffee. These people are INVESTED in the coffee. They know the people who grow the beans, the people who transport the coffee beans, the people who roast the beans, the people who grind the beans, and the people who brew coffee and pull the shots. The type of cup, the type of equipment, the type of filter is exact. From the amount of coffee grounds to the temperature of the water, we have imbued MEANING…from a bean.

I’m not criticizing. Far from it. I am extremely partial to my Blue Bottle coffee and am a frequent patron of my local coffee house. My commentary is merely to say that that hipsters, like many of us, are seeking for meaning. Meaning that, without Christ’s sacrifice to restore our relationship with God the Father, often eludes us, bringing us to our knees in hopelessness and uncertainty. Should I have been as surprised as I was? Probably not. But I find myself relishing the journey towards greater revelations and hope at the foot of the Cross.

“All things are full of weariness; a man cannot utter it; the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing. What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 1:8-9 (ESV)

It’s been a long time, readers. Two hundred, thirty-six days to be exact. That’s a lot.

Suffice it to say, even though I’ve been keeping up with all of you through my Reeder app on my iPhone, there hasn’t been a lot of stuff coming through my side of the blogosphere.

Not that I haven’t been doing a lot with my time. My life has been busy. I’ve watched one of my best friends get married, and another three friends propose.  I’ve watched friends break-up and learn to deal with new realities. I’ve watched some friends gets new jobs, and other friends leave theirs. I’ve taken care of a gun-shot wound victim for three days in one of the nation’s worst hospitals. I’ve assisted in the birth of two babies, one a live birth and the other by C-section.  I helped a little girl who was having seizures re-learn how to use the right side of her body and get her to eat. I’ve worked in the emergency room, and watched the tears flow as parents cried over their sick children and doubt their ability to take care of their kids; as little old ladies struggle with being lonely in that big old house when all of their kids have moved away and forgotten to drop by; as the staff get yelled by frustrated patients and frustrated doctors. I watched old friends leave my church to pursue the Lord’s Kingdom, and watched as new ones come to my church for the same reasons. I struggled to find peace and reassurance as my girlfriend left to go to the Philippines for a summer missions trip, only to come back and tell me that she was going for six more months and that her plans for graduate school in NorCal were changing. I struggle now to find peace and reassurance as I pray for her missions work and wait for another 129 days for her safe return.

But I haven’t blogged about any of it.

And I think I know why. It wasn’t because they weren’t important things in my life; obviously they were, otherwise I wouldn’t remember them. But instead, I haven’t blogged because I have refused, time and time again, to face a new reality that with these important things in my life, I am no longer the same person I was two hundred and thirty-six days ago. That’s probably why I keep watching absurd amounts of trashy television. (A whole season of Nikita in three days via Netflix? A whole season of How I Met Your Mother in two? Disgusting.)  The Lord has given me new blessings, yet I still find myself clinging to the fragile remnants of my former self. I can repent and seek change all I want, but without understanding that I cannot be the same person any more, all the To-Do lists and inspirational Post-It notes and blog posts won’t do a thing for me.

So here’s my vow, readers. I won’t promise to blog more regularly, as I have in the past. But I will remain silent, for the purposes of reflecting and pondering, so that I might see how the Lord is moving in my life. So that I might declare and proclaim and blog His goodness to all of you in overly verbose worship.

Every day is a new reality. Would that I might live in it.

And all the assembly fell silent, and they listened to Barnabas and Paul as they related what signs and wonders God had down through them among the Gentiles.” ~Acts 15:12

As promised, here’s another post, dear readers. :]

It occurs to me as I reflect on yesterday’s lecture on death and dying, and my ongoing struggle to remember all the drugs for my Pharmacology exam, that I am puzzled by the positive outlook on life held by many of my friends. The hope they have for tomorrow, the desire to see things become BETTER.

And don’t get me wrong: if you know me AT ALL, you would know that I’musually the most happy-go-lucky guy around and will try to spin any difficult situation into a more positive one, even if it is often more to my detriment than my benefit.

But what hope can you really have in this wretched world of ours? I struggled to remain objective when, yesterday, my professors invited an Episcopal? Episcopalian? chaplain to speak to our class about counseling, how we need to meet the spiritual needs of these patients before their death, and what exactly these patients struggle with – thoughts of their legacy and their regrets, their fears and confusion, their feelings about what they’re leaving behind and what is ahead. She encouraged us to also challenge ourselves to seek answers to these questions.

But as I looked around, many of my classmates had dead-pan looks on their faces. Some nodded, but their brows furrrowed, deep in thought. And rightly so. A good friend spoke honestly: “I’m not sure what I would say to a person that was dying. What would you say?”

Because what hope can you give when there is no basis for your hope now? How can you tell a man at the end of his life to have no fear, when all his life, people have lied and cheated and stolen from him? How do you tell a woman to be comforted and have peace, when she is survived by two children who have no means to provide for themselves? How do you tell a child, who has barely lived his life at all, that there is a good reason why he’s dying from cancer? How do you tell yourself that, despite all of this, tomorrow or the next day or perhaps the day after will be okay, that for the next ten, twenty, thirty years of your career, things will be okay?

You can’t.

Hebrews 11:1 – Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

A poem found among the belongings of an elderly woman who died in a hospital geriatric ward. I’m copying it here as a reminder to myself.

And don’t worry, readers, I haven’t forgotten you! After a long and arduous hiatus…I’m back!


What do you see, nurses, what do you see?
Are you thinking, when you look at me —
A crabby old woman, not very wise,
Uncertain of habit, with far-away eyes,
Who dribbles her food and makes no reply,
When you say in a loud voice — “I do wish you’d try.”

Who seems not to notice the things that you do,
And forever is losing a stocking or shoe,
Who unresisting or not, lets you do as you will,
With bathing and feeding, the long day to fill.

Is that what you’re thinking, is that what you see?
Then open your eyes, nurse, you’re looking at ME…
I’ll tell you who I am, as I sit here so still;
As I rise at your bidding, as I eat at your will.

I’m a small child of ten with a father and mother,
Brothers and sisters, who love one another,
A young girl of sixteen with wings on her feet.
Dreaming that soon now a lover she’ll meet;
A bride soon at twenty — my heart gives a leap,
Remembering the vows that I promised to keep;
At twenty-five now I have young of my own,
Who need me to build a secure, happy home;
A woman of thirty, my young now grow fast,
Bound to each other with ties that should last;
At forty, my young sons have grown and are gone,
But my man’s beside me to see I don’t mourn;
At fifty once more babies play ’round my knee,
Again we know children, my loved one and me.

Dark days are upon me, my husband is dead,
I look at the future, I shudder with dread,
For my young are all rearing young of their own,
And I think of the years and the love that I’ve known;
I’m an old woman now and nature is cruel —
‘Tis her jest to make old age look like a fool.

The body is crumbled, grace and vigor depart,
There is now a stone where once I had a heart,
But inside this old carcass a young girl still dwells,
And now and again my battered heart swells.

I remember the joys, I remember the pain,
And I’m loving and living life over again,
I think of the years, all too few — gone too fast,
And accept the stark fact that nothing can last —
So I open your eyes, nurses, open and see,
Not a crabby old woman, look closer, nurses — see ME!