Last weekend a nation mourns. I too mourn for LKY. But last weekend, I spent it in the hospital. A loved one was a patient there. My family and extended families were there too. We shared the time together and renewed our bonds. It was a touching moment and tears were shed.
The point of this post is not about what transpired last week in the hospital but what transpired in our hearts. The theme is nevertheless this: "Never waste a trial". Nobody wants to go through hard times. Nobody needs to be told that it is to be avoided at all costs. Between toiling in paradise and toiling in hell, we choose the former in a heartbeat.
Now, I can see celebration and victories as bonding time too where families come together and rejoice. That is all good for the soul and the heart. When everything goes swell, we count our blessings and are grateful. We are happy. But a life of smooth sailing is as illusory as a cloud that never rains or a man that never ages or a gale that never blows. I can thus expect good times and bad in this life. They are an inseparable pair like twins struggling for life through the birth canal. What good is one without the other right?
It is often thought that good times pass faster because we lose all sense of time when we are immersed in a celebration. But bad times drag its feet and leave an inconsolable trail behind. So, what good is one with the other then?
Here I am reminded of the loose platitude: "Trial grows you." This is of course true. Trial grows and strengthens you provided you are not overcome by it. But what about those going through it with a hope too thin to grasp on to or with a pain too deep to find relief? What is there for those who are suffering and for those who are suffering together with them? What is the message that this megaphone of pain is blasting about?
Never waste a trial. That's what I've learned this weekend. The national mourning and my personal sadness have been a gift both to the nation and to my soul. It has shown me the anatomy of a trial. And I have had a glimpse into the body of sorrows and the elements of pain. I realized that the growth in a trial is not just a platitudinous, feel-good sentiment but an enduring declaration of my faith in love, unity and hope. And these words ring so true during such times: "Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God." And I guess what makes Him God is the many things in this world that breaks His heart.
If good times make for a light heart, then bad times make for an open one. It opens you up in so many ways. It changes you from within. No doubt you are still you. But it is a you that you will take some time to get to know. And you shall know him for your own betterment, trust me.
More importantly, you will see things differently or different. I saw things different. This weekend, I saw the frailty of men and that made it more endearing to me and not less. I saw their vulnerability and strangely I could identify with it. Shedding away the superman complex, we become wounded souls in a trial, silently nursing ourselves to tempered recovery. This rekindled my faith in the scripture that says, "For when I am weak, then I am strong." For tested toughness is to me the true measure of the worth of a man (and woman). It is also the measure of what makes us human.
In the same breath, I saw more of what we have in common rather than what keeps us apart. The brokenness mended my soul because I caught an image of myself in it. And it revealed a side of humanity I will never get to experience deeply in a perpetual house of rejoicing. I guess nothing joins our hearts more than pain and sorrow. It is the social adhesive that not only bonds, it heals.
But the healing is not immediate. It is a journey. And this journey changes the partakers as much as it changes the victims. To me, the most important change is that of distilled vision. I am forced to see things more clearly. The fog of impermanence dances away to reveal the core of what each of us has to confront in order to make an enduring change in our life.
For some, it may be about letting go of a decade-old hatred. For others, it may be about coming clean with one's irreconcilable past. For still others, it may be about fulfilling a long-forsaken promise. For me, for this weekend, it is about keeping my heart and hands open, willing to learn and determined to take more out of this trial than it threatens to take from me and my loved ones. And the lesson it first seeks to impart is that where hearts are joined together in love and hope, a trial - however menacing it seems - is but a means to a united end. And this unity only makes us stronger, wiser and more resilient.
This is the gift of a trial and should you choose to unwrap it with courage and faith, you will find not a shovel but a ladder lying in your aid. So, never waste a trial.
Let me end the post this way. I recall a special moment in the hospital that Saturday morning. Before I left, I leaned over and embraced my loved one. I rested my lips quietly on the right shoulder and left a soft mark. It was a mark to remind me of our common humanity, our indivisible bond. And it is a humanity of shared pain and hope, of shared sorrow and joy, and of shared brokenness and unity. It is no doubt a mark to remind me of how vulnerable we are. Yet at the same time, it is also a mark to remind me of how much stronger we can be. Cheerz.