Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sign Language

“Sign Language”

Lent 2010 – Day 10a; Sunday, February 28.

Deshi Ramadhani, SJ

I have a very beautiful cousin who is so special, and was recently married to a man who is also special. Due to their conditions, they communicate a lot in sign language. What strikes me is the fact that his younger brother has learned very well the sign language. He did it out of love: this is the best way to communicate to his brother!

That gesture of love is really inspiring. It reminds me of how God has always been trying to communicate with me in a language that I’m capable of. God always finds the right way to get me. God is not the problem, but I am. I’m so slow in letting God talk to me. I’m too stubborn to recognize how God has purposely learned my language.

Sometimes I ask myself: why does God choose me? I have a hint. God may find that learning my language is so fascinating. That’s why God never gives up!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Not Too Clean, Please

“Not Too Clean, Please”

Lent 2010 – Day 10; Saturday, February 27.

Deshi Ramadhani, SJ

Do you believe that if you clean your ear or nose too well, you might create an infection right there? I’ve had both, nose infection, and some years later, ear infection. Do you know what the doctor said? “Clean it, but not too clean!” Well, fair enough. My ear or nose needs that greasy, disgusting, yellowish substance to protect itself.

Loving my enemies, forgiving them, even praying for them don’t always come easy. Many times I’ve asked God to help me to forgive them. Yet, I know they are still there. What if those painful experiences actually need to be there to make me function well? Could they be like that greasy substance in my ear or nose?

Dreaming of a clean new life is understandable. But, I’m afraid, that I might want it too clean, that I unintentionally create a spiritual infection harder to heal?

Friday, February 26, 2010

Craving for Sin

“Craving for Sin”

Lent 2010 – Day 9; Friday, February 26.

Deshi Ramadhani, SJ

I decided to give up coffee for Lent. The first days were really hard. I realize more than ever, that I’ve really become a coffee lover. Something is really missing. Even worse! I develop some high level of cravings for coffee. It feels like there is a big hole in my daily schedule. It feels awkward to start a new day without coffee.

Like you, I’ve been wrestling with sins. I realize that somehow the pattern of sin has become a basic ingredient in my daily regiment. You can imagine how it feels when I really want to give up sin. Yes! Now I even have some cravings for sin. I become groggy if I live a day without sin. How horrible!

Another reason why we haven’t made any significant progress in our spiritual life can be this: we actually still crave for sins!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Take a Number

“Take a Number”

Lent 2010 – Day 8; Thursday, February 25.

Deshi Ramadhani, SJ

Remember the last time you were in a line? Take a number and wait for your turn. Soon you begin to count every second. Still ten numbers before you. Then you give up, trash the number slip, and walk away. You don’t realize that all the ten persons before you did just the same earlier. So you miss your chance to be the very next person to be served.

Many times that has been my attitude in prayer. Waiting for God to answer my prayer really takes a courage and generosity. So I need to learn to simply enjoy the waiting. The answer will come in an unexpected time, even in a surprising way. Indeed, many times it is the waiting itself that really count and transform me.

If I see the waiting as part of God’s answer, when God does finally answer my prayer, I can really celebrate it. To do this, I need to stop from counting every second.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010



Lent 2010 – Day 7; Wednesday, February 24.

Deshi Ramadhani, SJ

Ever been to a dentist for tooth extraction? Well, to make your life less miserable, today’s doctor is generous enough with anesthesia. You won’t feel any pain, and you trust your dentist to proceed. If he or she wants to fool you, he or she can extract any tooth. You simply trust him or her, as long as you don’t feel the pain.

I’m afraid that I might have been so used to self-anesthesia in regard to my sins. Year after year, I’ve been able to convince myself that everything is just fine. Heaven knows, how many times I have asked God to hit me hard so that I can repent from my sins. God has indeed hit me hard many times, yet I haven’t felt any pain. So why bother?

Too much confidence in God’s mercy and forgiveness can indeed make me numb. Problem is, how much time do I still have before my time is up?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

By Law!

“By Law!”

Lent 2010 – Day 6; Tuesday, February 23.

Deshi Ramadhani, SJ

I was boarding a flight in Singapore when I noticed a sign which looked scary. Well, it was just a “no smoking” sign, but right below it were two monosyllabic words: “BY LAW.” Somehow I felt threatened. Behind those two words there was a tremendous power. And sure enough, breaking that law was the last thing I wanted to come close to.

Lent is a time to get in touch again with a tremendous power. It doesn’t depend on the quantity of words I say in my prayer, since less means more. When I hold my tongue, I make a decision to go deeper in my heart. Once I touched again that power in the innermost recess of my heart, it will flow into my entire being.

It’s time to touch again my desire to be a better person, and to say with a renewed conviction, “Yes, I really want it.”

Monday, February 22, 2010

Love Decision

“Love Decision”

Lent 2010 – Day 5; Monday, February 22; Feast of St. Peter’s Chair

Deshi Ramadhani, SJ

Love is a decision. After the highs of the “in-love” stage is over, the time will come when one should make a decision to love. It’s the moment when one is invited to go beyond theoretical knowledge. While it isn’t feeling anymore, it isn’t simply about logics either. Love is not simply mathematical calculation. It’s a decision of the heart.

In terms of making and changing decision, we humans are expert compared to God. Yes. I don’t think that God has ever changed the decision to love me no matter what. We humans take time. In some cases, it seems to take a lifetime to decide to love God back. No wonder we need Lent every year, and we are just the same messy people.

Here is a paradox. When I finally decide to totally love God, it’s actually a decision to let myself be loved totally by God. Being loved so much is a lot scarier than loving itself.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Gentleman on the Stairs

“Gentleman on the Stairs”

Lent 2010 – Day 4a; Sunday, February 21.

Deshi Ramadhani, SJ

If you go with a woman, and needs to take the stairs, be a gentleman. If you go up, you let her go first, and you stay right behind her. But if you go down, you should go first and stay right in front of her. Why? Should she trips and falls, you’ll be right there to catch her. You also make her feel secure since she knows you are her protector.

Sadly, I’m not always willing to let God be my protector. Who knows? I might sub-consciously feel that this is too feminine. I am the man, I am the protector. So, I let myself fall into temptations. I bet, this applies to woman too. Letting God be the protector is letting God to act manly. For some women with past hurt from men, this is too much.

God wants to protect us. When we don’t let it happen, we might violently emasculate God. I wonder if this is what saddens Him the most.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Desirable Sickness

“Desirable Sickness”

Lent 2010 – Day 4; Saturday, February 20.

Deshi Ramadhani, SJ

When I was a young teenager I once got very sick. I was literally confined to bed for a whole month. Along the way I learned how to let others help me. I even began to enjoy being sick, since everybody paid attention to me. It was suddenly over when the doctor allowed me to get up and walk. I was healed, and I lost all the special treatments.

Being sick can be so desirable, especially when it is the best way to get attentions. I wonder if the same thing applies to sin. I know I have to get rid of certain repeated sins, yet I also know that staying with this sin will attract God’s attention to me. And that certainly feels good. I’m addicted to the notion of fighting against sin with God.

God wants to heal me, to change my life. Yet I’m afraid to let God do it, since I’m afraid that if I become a better person, I will lose God’s special attention to me.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Hallmark Card

“Hallmark Card”

Lent 2010 – Day 3; Friday, February 19.

Deshi Ramadhani, SJ

I tell you one of my secrets. When I was a lot younger, I used to collect beautiful Hallmark cards. Every now and then I would stop by at a Hallmark store, browsed them, and read thoughtfully the beautiful words on them, and bought one I considered the best. I usually didn’t have any particular person in mind. Now, imagine that eventually I sent one among the best cards to someone, only to hear her say: “You shouldn’t waste your money for this.”

Here is the crucial thing. For her, that card is just “something,” while I put a great deal of myself into it that I feel like me being present in it. I wish that the card would be accepted as “someone.” The same thing happens during Lent. After all these years, I now believe that fasting or penance is not about something, but about someone. It is not about “excluding something” for Lent (coffee for example, in my case), but it is about “embracing someone.”

If I can say no to coffee, but can’t say yes to love God and my neighbors, I’m not really doing the real penance.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Deadly Diet

“Deadly Diet”

Lent 2010 – Day 2; Thursday, February 18.

Deshi Ramadhani, SJ

Just look around. You will see some who are struggling with high cholesterol level. Look how they eat. Are your shocked? Listen to what they say: “It’s OK. Just a little bite… and if things get worse, I’ve got my pills.” Don’t forget to notice the victorious smile on their faces. And guess what? The next morning you will hear them complain: “I’ve a terrible headache.” Duh…?

Choosing is part of life. Yet, making the right choice is not always in the picture. Sometimes we even play with life or death choice. If this is what happens with choosing between holiness and sinfulness, I feel so embarrassed. When I choose sin, I choose death. The more I respect my life, the more I want to choose holiness. My repeated fallings and negligence may simply be signs of my lack of respect toward life.

Want to know the worst part of the story? It’s when you say a split second before committing a sin: “It’s OK. Just a little bite…”

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Scary U-Turn

“Scary U-Turn”

Lent 2010 – Day 1 (Ash Wednesday); February 17.

Deshi Ramadhani, SJ

I hate making a U-Turn at certain spots in my neighborhood. Why? It always feels like fighting a battle. Rarely will the vehicles from the opposite direction stop or slow down. On the contrary, they seem to speed up nastily when they see I need to get in. Things can get worse during the rush hour. If I can avoid making U-Turn, I will certainly opt for it.

Here I am, another year, another Ash Wednesday, another Lent. If conversion is like going back by making a U-Turn, I know why it is sometimes hard. It requires patience and the right moves. Making an abrupt and reckless U-Turn can cause a collision. Yet, making a very slow move can also cause a collision. I guess that’s my prayer: “God, grant me patience and teach me the right moves during this time of conversion.”

If conversion is indeed a battle, it is no doubt a battle worth fighting for. Hesitation to go through it will only reveal my true self as a coward.