People Don’t Like People

Public transit. Public transit everyday.

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After taking it daily for the past few years, I’ve come to notice a peculiar trend among people who use the system. This has led to the terrible conclusion that people don’t like people.

When I come onto the bus, the first thing I look for is a free spot. This is normal. In the case where there is a spot beside someone, I naturally go sit there.

What I noticed is that, when there is someone seated beside another person, as soon as someone sees that a set of two seats are free, he/she automatically moves away from whomever they were sitting beside, and takes a seat where there is no one.

I could be wrong, but I find it to be rude, as though the person I am seated next to has something wrong with them – enough that I should move away. What is wrong with simply sitting beside someone? What kind of statement, if any, are we trying to make?

If Christ were to walk into an OC Transpo bus (or your local public transit bus), I think He would intentionally sit beside someone rather than looking for the spot furthest away from a human. I think that even if there was only one person on that bus, He would probably go and sit with that person, even if no dialogue was made.

Let’s try to change the way we use public transit, and really treat each other as brothers and sisters.

A Litany of Catholic Families

At the end of September 2013, I began working at the St. Patrick’s Basilica Giftshop and Bookstore. (For those who have never heard of it, it is Ottawa’s Catholic bookstore.)

There are several beautiful things I could tell you about working there, but I will choose one of those which have been moving my heart. Every Sunday I work there from 8:30-1:30pm. The Basilica has four Sunday morning Masses and one evening Mass. Though it is the busier day of the week, it’s is probably the most joyful one. I get the opportunity to witness so many beautiful Catholic families.

It’s so encouraging to see how parents make the domestic church a priority in their lives.

It’s so encouraging to see large Catholic families.

It’s so encouraging to see children looking through children novels on the lives of the saints, and begging their parents to buy it for them.

It’s so encouraging to hear a child recall the biography of a saint whom I don’t know much about (or whom I have never heard about!).

It’s so encouraging to have a child ask whether we have a statue of a particular saint.

It’s so encouraging to have a child pay for a religious article (a crucifix, or medal), from his/her little wallet filled with change.

It’s so encouraging to have a mother ask for blessed oil so that she can continue to bless her child before going to bed.

It’s so encouraging to see a scapular around a child’s neck.

This litany could go on forever. Catholic families are beautiful. It is here, where, among the brokenness of each member, life can be lived to the full. It is here where the Lord can be born, be made known and loved in this “country in shadow dark as death” (Isaiah 9:1).

It is here where the glorious Church, in all her splendour, has her roots.

On this splendid feast of the Baptism of the Lord, I give thanks to the Lord for my own family, especially my parents. I thank the Lord that they made it a priority that our family pray the Rosary, Litany of the Virgin Mary, and a Novena every night since infancy before going to bed (regardless of how tired every one was). I thank the Lord for my grandma who blesses each one of us before leaving the home. I thank the Lord for my mom and dad who also blesses us with the sign of the Cross on our foreheads when I say kiss them good morning and goodnight.

What a great feast to be grateful for the commitments our parents/godparents made for us at our baptism so that we would live according to the Lord’s precepts!

Thrift shop Refurbish #1

Once at a music practice, someone found a “broken” music stand. I walked over and took the stand and figured out the reason the stand was non-functional. I explained it to leader, only to find that she was more astonished at the fact that I was able to diagnose the problem than the fact that an expensive music equipment was broken. Later that week, she mentioned it to my mom. I chuckle every time I remember that story because most people are surprised that I know a few ‘handy’ tricks, or when they find out that I often help my dad fixing/building things around the home.

August 2013, my younger sister Joan and I, wanted to surprise our parents by refurbishing an old piece of furniture on our own. We began by shopping around thrift stores for a piece composed of solid wood. Our budget was under $20.
We visited three different stores, until we found our recipient at the local Good Will store. We paid $10 for this pale pink small bookshelf.pre

We then paid a visit to Rona and bought some walnut stain. That afternoon we spent a few hours sanding the whole shelf down. The following day we started the stain. I found a can of pecan stain, so I decided to combine the two. We let it dry, and when we came back, to our great dismay, we found that the stain dried to look extremely ugly. The walnut stain looked as though we painted the beautiful cedar with black stain. Joan and I were so upset. Joan came up with the the most intelligent solution (i.e. intelligent accident). She found a thin piece of metal, which used to belong to a hole punch. She began to scrape the wood. As I began observing, unknowingly, she created a masterpiece. Somehow, the stain, was reinforced into the small hairline cracks in the wood, creating beautiful texture. We were amazed! (Well, we both prayed throughout the whole project, so it shouldn’t be a surprise).

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Encouraged, we used the pecan stain and went over the whole shelf once over, and let it dry overnight.

When we moved into our home about 9-10 years ago, the previous owner, being a renowned engineer (he actually built our home, and was part of the Montreal Expo), left a lot of building materials. Amid the collection was a bunch of old rugged solid hardwood. We decided to nail a few of them on the top. We did sand it, and used the pecan stain. We were quite proud of our achievement.

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Oh, we also nailed a few shorter and thinner pieces of wood to the back of the shelf as you can see in the picture.

In the end, our parents loved it and were very touched. It meant a lot to our father because it was from him that we learned all of which we accomplished. It now rests in our living room.

Learning Comfort

Over the Christmas Break, I attended Catholic Christian Outreach’s (CCO) Annual National conference Riseup. It was held in my hometown Ottawa. (If you are curious, here’s a little glimpse: http://youtu.be/HBBQC-f-oeA). The conference was great. In this post, I wish to share a particular experience, where I was reminded of the beauty in being there with a friend.

I needed some time to myself after the last session one of the days so I found a spot to sit in the hotel far from the big crowds. I thought I would feel better if I just sat alone to recharge. The Lord knew my heart, however, and knew what I actually needed. After sometime of sitting alone, looking through/scribbling in my journal, a dear friend of mine, whom I rarely get the chance to speak to one on one, just happened to be walking by. He sat next to me and asked with sincerity how I was doing. I knew I couldn’t give him a vague answer, so I shared truthfully, in complete honesty. I was astounded at how patient he was with me. For those who do know me, speaking is so difficult for me, so it meant so much to me, that my friend didn’t rush me, and that he simply looked at me, waiting with compassion. He didn’t speak much, but simply listened to what I was trying so hard to vocalize. Speaking with this friend was as though it was Christ who came to comfort me.

He left after a short while. Though I wished I could have talked or just have been with this friend for a while longer, the Lord enabled me to remember that he has blessed me with precious friendships like this one. This circumstance turned out to be an encouragement too, because a lot of my friends and acquaintances have told me how much they appreciate when I listen to them, or how comforting it is when I simply sit with them. I had not ever experienced this form of comfort myself so it was hard, in a sense, to know whether I was fulfilling my role as a good friend, through my “inaction”. Now I understand how important it is for certain friends, at least, that I simply take time to be with them, even if I don’t speak. I was reminded to be more intentional.

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Friends and Companions

A dear friend, Jeremy, published a great blog post titled ” Life without a Best Friend” (which you can find here: http://triathletewithacollar.wordpress.com/2012/12/12/398/ ).

This post helped me realize I was at a similar stage in my journey. It is often lonely without a “best friend”. This, however many disadvantages there may have been, has been shown to be an even greater grace in my life.

Growing up, I did not have many friends, so it was something I always wished I “had more” of. When I started university, I met my few dearest friends (either through mutual friends, or my parish St. Mary’s). I learned to treasure these gems; they were so dear to me.

As time went on and as the Lord began drawing me closer to His Sacred Heart, I began realizing that my friends could not satisfy me  the way Christ crucified could. The Lord shed light onto the ways, perhaps unconsciously, I relied on friends rather than the Lord Himself. The Lord has, since, granted me the grace to see my beautiful friends as companions – my brothers and sisters – on this adventure,  this spiritual adventure on this narrow road to the Father’s House. They are the precious souls whom I will travel with, whom I will carry my cross with, whom I will and want to spend eternity with, beholding the Beauty of the Lord of Hosts with all the saints and angels.