dweller by the river

sojourner of earth attempting to understand the journey home

And so I will keep trying.


Here I am… to Worship

In the past months I realised something that was both distressing and worrying – I could not for the life of me seem to recall any of the songs of praise and worship that I’d spent more than 75% of my life singing. I would suddenly look up from something else I’d been doing, think, “Wow, it’s been a long time since I sang anything,” and try to think of a line, a title, a melody… and nothing would come to mind.

For many years I had a reputation for being a walking song directory – anybody anytime could randomly hum me a tune, throw me a title or a phrase of half-remembered lyrics, and I’d immediately pull the entire song out from the prodigious reservoir in my head. I could even provide the alto harmony line for about half of them. So you can see why I have been feeling quite disturbed by my recent inability to bring anything up from the deep!

Mostly I could drag up the same old few tunes: Jesus Loves Me (This I Know), As The Deer, Here I Am To Worship. That being all I had, I just sheepishly mumbled them to my nursing toddler and stopped within a few minutes.

I had some theories about this “selective amnesia”. None were good. My memory was failing prematurely. My memory had been permanently crippled somehow by some freak hormonal imbalance following Z’s birth. I had some sort of debilitating disease. I had so displeased God that He had wiped my source of pride from me as a punishment. God was so disgusted with me that He no longer wanted me to sing. Not like I’d been doing it anyway. Could I even sing any more? Should I? Was it that I no longer believed, and so my subconscious had purged my mental records? What did that mean or entail, and was it even true? …did I still believe? What did I now believe?

I half-heartedly went through my computer archive in search of tracks I’d recorded. As if hearing myself sing would trigger some sort of recovery. It didn’t. I just felt like a fraud, somehow, listening to myself… so I stopped. I felt like I had lost my faith and my God… that He had abandoned me in disgust. I had no church, no community, nothing. I was outcast.

Then, about two months ago, a few more songs came back to mind: There Is None Like You, I Stand In Awe, Here In My Life. I sang them quietly to myself, in the bath, in the kitchen, while walking or riding the bus/train… but always only for a few minutes, and sheepishly, half reluctant, afraid that somehow I had lost the right to sing such things. But then, of all things, Disney’s God Help The Outcasts (from The Hunchback of Notre Dame) suddenly came to me and wouldn’t get out of my head for an entire week. The lines that really got me?

I don’t know if You can hear me
Or if You’re even there
I don’t know if You would listen
To a gypsy’s prayer
Yes I know I’m just an outcast
I shouldn’t speak to You
Still I see Your face and wonder
Were You once an outcast too?

And I wept because I knew, I know, that He was. It gave me hope somehow that if even Disney songwriters could get it right, there must still be hope for me. But I didn’t push, didn’t really try any harder than I had been… I just couldn’t find the motivation.

But over the past week I’ve felt small stirrings within. The urge to look up at the sunset and smile, or whisper praise. A sudden desire to sing again. And a few days ago I had two of my old favourites pop back into my head on the way home from work – You Are My World and Overwhelmed.

Do I feel like I’m worthy once more? No. But it’s returning to my awareness that it really isn’t about my being worthy or unworthy, but about having a sacrifice that avails for me. And that, I do have.

So while I can’t mean every word of You Are My World, not yet, I’ll still sing, because I have reason to. And someday the understanding and conviction will come. Back.

I sing this praise for You alone
And once again I worship at Your throne
I lift You up, You cover me
Safe and sound, sheltered by Your wings

I gaze upon Your glory now
Redeeming love satisfies my soul
You summon angels all around
This joy of salvation I have found

I exalt You, I will come
With shouts of joy into Your presence
Faithful God, my heart is overwhelmed by You
In spirit and in truth I stand
To worship You with all I am
I’m Yours, Lord; I am Yours, Lord
Jesus, my heart is overwhelmed

Crochet Therapy

I’ve wondered why I love browsing complicated crochet projects, designs and patterns online, but don’t really feel motivated to try them. Instead, I am attracted to making blankets, throws, shawls and shrugs. It isn’t really that I dislike complicated work, or that I can’t keep count. I am, after all, quite adept at embroidery and have been since I was five (my Peranakan grandmother taught me nonya-style needlework).

I think it’s the meditative nature of a large work done in basic stitches that I find really therapeutic. There’s no need to keep track of a lot of things, and the repetitive movements and visibly growing product are satisfying and calming. Heh.

So anyway, here are my latest completed projects – a mobile phone pouch made with eyelash yarn, and a striped blanket made with budget acrylic yarn. Haha.

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Back with a Vengeance

Two and a half years ago I was in despair because I had only just picked up crochet, had bought a stash of bargain yarn to start myself off, and had a whole list of projects lined up mainly shrugs and baby blankets – but had to put everything away into storage because I’d inexplicably developed an exceedingly odd pregnancy-related aversion. I couldn’t stand the sight of yarn or knitwear. I even had to get my husband to hide all my knitwear (cardigans, sweaters, etc.) because the sight of them made me want to puke.

And then I forgot all about crochet for a while.

A few weeks ago, though, I suddenly had this urge to pick it up again. I broke out my stash, spent two nights speed reading my collection of guides and tutorials, and decided that I would make Kumu Lei a pale (pronounced pah-leh) for her ipu heke classroom drills. Then I went down to Spotlight and bought two balls of natural jute twine for the project.

I can tell you now that there are very good reasons why beginners are usually started on wool or acrylic, and why twine isn’t usually used for crochet. And I’ve gotten enough tiny jute splinters in my fingers to put me off the material at least for a few months. But it’s done, and it’s flying off to Kaua’i in March when Alaka’i Namiko leaves for her next trip. My first completed crochet project, and it’s quite pretty if I do say so myself.

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State of My Mind

In late 2014, around the time I got pregnant with L, I stopped having nightmares. Or at least, I stopped having any nightmares that I could recall. Certainly none, if they occurred, were bad enough to affect my sleep-wake cycle or leave me at all affected (as far as I can tell, on a conscious level).

A few vivid and incredibly bizarre dreams happened during the first and second trimesters, but they tended towards odd or funny, and once L was born, my subconscious seemed to be taking a break from movie making.

Two weeks ago, though, I had my first nightmare in yonks. The details were fuzzy when I woke, but I vaguely recall that the cast was a mix of my relatives and characters from a couple of local movies that E had been playing on repeat at home. I have no recollection of the plot or any events in it, but I know I woke up with a start, panting slightly and feeling a bit out of sorts and disturbed.

Then, two nights ago, I had my next memorable nightmare. And this one’s still with me, a little. I have no recollection of the cast (there was a vague impression when I woke, but that’s faded now) or the plot, but one scene – the one I woke from – has left me with rather gruesome images and a faint gnawing dread.

I am crouching, with L beside me, and we’re looking at something on the ground. I point at it and she laughs and babbles, flapping her arms. Then suddenly I feel it – that unmistakable sensation of a foetal limb pressing hard against my insides as the unborn infant, which has to be at least six months grown to have such an effect, stretches. I’m surprised, because as far as I know,  I’m not pregnant. In surprise and curiosity I look down at my belly, yanking my T-shirt up, and see to my shock the shape of a tiny fist, distending the skin of my abdomen quite grotesquely, sweeping across from right to left and stretching the skin further and further outward as it does, causing intense pressure to build up really quickly. A moment later, there’s a huge pop and my abdomen bursts open, a la the chestburster scene in Ridley Scott’s Alien, and I stare in horror – strangely I feel nothing, perhaps because I’m in shock? – as my skin falls in ragged folds to expose a gory, slimy something not unlike what the Nostromo’s crew found inside the alien eggs and the innards of the alien face hugger. It gapes below my exposed ribs, and I look up, bewildered, unsure if it’s actually happening or just a part of my imagination – I must be going insane, I’m hallucinating big time – and realise I don’t know what’s happened to L, who was supposedly right next to me. And then I’m screaming… 

And then I’m awake.

What this sort of thing is supposed to mean, I have no idea. My subconscious seems to be a very scary place. Either that, or I’m a really disturbed individual.