The Little Lady Who Could

(Day 21 – Something that you’re proud of)

It was either bindies or gravel. She could have chosen to make do with the tiny thorns on the lawn which latched onto her jacket and pants when she fell, but her hardheadedness compelled her to suffer through the biting pebbles littered throughout their flat’s spacious driveway instead. She got up, rolled her woolen sweater’s sleeves to her elbows, and checked on her cut.

The wound wasn’t that bad. It was just a scrape really. There was some blood, there were some tiny stones that somehow made their way through her woolen armour, but, on the whole, her elbow was still okay. She rolled her jeans up to check on her knees. Not too bad, either. She’d have to tell her mum to get her a new pair of pants soon though.

Her bicycle – just a few ungraceful paces away from her – was mercifully still in good condition. She made her way towards it and forced the blasted apparatus up. I can do this.

“You can do it, Pangging!” Her dad’s voice came from the other end of the driveway.

I can do this.

* * *

“Stop. Go. Stop. Go. Okay, your engine died again.”

This was getting frustrating. She couldn’t figure out why she couldn’t get the clutch-accelerator mix right. She turned the ignition key on for the n-th time, revving the car back to life. Her left foot pushed the clutch, her left hand shifted the gear stick to primera, and her right foot tapped the accelerator ever so lightly. Please don’t die, please don’t die, please don’t die. Slowly, she released the pressure that her left foot had on the clutch. The car started to move.

“Okay – stop. Go. Stop. Go. You can do this, Mari.”

You bet I can. I can do this.

* * *

“Okay guys, let’s all race each other to the other end of the park!”

“You’re on! Ready, set, go!”

She was speeding through Burnham Park, her friends several feet, several inches away from her, and she felt the wind wave about her jacket, ruffle through her hair. She allowed one hand to let go of the handlebar and she raised it up just to enjoy the cool Baguio June air.

This was fun. Her friends’ joyful laughter rang throughout the park and she found herself laughing along. She pedalled quickly, knowing that, this time, she wasn’t likely to even fall.

I can do this.

* * *

What was up with today? Traffic was worse than usual. Did everyone suddenly decide to leave the office at the same time? She shifted the car’s gear to neutral and pulled the handbrake up. Jesusculture’s heavenly sounds echoed throughout Caleb’s interior.

The car in front of her finally started to move. Clutch down, primera in, accelerator down, clutch up. Clutch down, segunda in, clutch up again. Accelerate. We are moving! Clutch down, tricera in, clutch up, accelerator down – okay just a bit more – clutch down – and we are now in gear four! She let out a sigh of relief as the stream of traffic started moving steadily again.

In twenty minutes, she’d be home. Traffic was nothing compared to the two-hour waiting time she once had to endure at the Bandar Tasik Selatan KTM station. Oh sure, there’d be another parade of cars she’d have to brave through once she’d get to the Sri Petaling junction, but she was already very much used to that. It was really just as easy as pie.

She hummed along to the song being played in Caleb’s radio and sped through the Maju Expressway.

You see? I really can do this.

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A Return to the Lake

(Day 20 – Something you wonder “What if…?” about)

I was at the Lake of Imagination again the other day. For some reason, the water’s pull was stronger and, when I got there, I found that I was all alone. Alone was good. Solitude had been hard to come by lately – I needed time to just be with myself.

I made my way to my usual spot – the large mossy rock by the east bank – slipped of my shoes, and inched my feet into the refreshing pool. Crystal ripples swirled around my ankles as distant thoughts and memories swiveled their way around my head.

Thoughts. Memories. They were funny things. I looked at my fragmented reflection, pondering about the woman who was pondering back at me. It was amazing what three years and a few months had done to her. She had grown so much in that short amount of time.

I closed my eyes and wondered. What if I hadn’t left? What if I had stuck to my original plan, submitted my papers to my old university’s graduate school, and stayed? Would the woman staring back at me be just as mature, just as adventurous, just as flexible, and just as strangely melancholy?

Well. She might’ve met Rick Pino. She might’ve rushed into or out of love – or perhaps she might not have found it at all. She might have…

She might’ve what? Or rather – I might’ve what?

It was strange. There were times I found myself wanting the life I lived back then. But as I opened my eyes and gazed at the fragmented image, I realized that the truth was that I honestly didn’t because I was right where I needed to be in that very season of my life.

I was at the center of His heart and that’s what mattered. I was smack in the middle of His will and that was enough to dispel every single “what if”.

I lifted my feet out of the water and bent over to take a closer look at the woman who also wanted to take a good look at me. Little by little, the ripples subsided – the image became more distinct, more defined. It was fragmented no more.

And so I left the lake, perhaps to return to it still – another day.

Artisan

Darkness. Complete and total darkness. Brokenness. Painful, heart-rending brokenness. She stares at the world before her, seeing empty nothingness. She hugs her feet to her shoulders, shielding herself from the dagger-like assault of the cutting, shard-like air.

“Is there hope?” She asks. “Is there hope for this fallen world?”

“There is.” She hears a Still Small Voice. “There’s hope for this fallen world.”

The Voice – almost inaudible – startles her and she stands – terrified, tentative, yet feeling a tiny ember of hope light up in her heart.

“There is?” As she speaks, a paintbrush manifests in her left hand, a feather pen in her right.

“Paint the invisible into this dark and empty canvas. Write words of hope into this hopeless, despairing world.”

Slowly, she lifts her instruments up. The brush leaves a trail of bright, luminescent colors as she weaves it carefully about. The feather pen cautiously forms words like “joy”, “gladness”, “perseverance”, and “faith”. As she discovers her power to create she begins to use her instruments more confidently. The colors from her paintbrush become more vibrant; the words from her pen become more daring and life altering.

She gapes at the world before here, looks at it in awe, and is amazed by the world of color, the world of striking vividness. She spreads her arms open, savors the freedom brought by this new world of wholeness, and hears that Still Small Voice speak once again.

“See. There is hope.”

Create.