Today Film Article

Published by TODAY, Singapore’s second most-read newspaper, on 28th July 2016. Here is the online version.

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This is 29-year-old, Kseniya Simonova, a Ukrainian sand artist or “Lady of the Sand” as she likes to be called.

This piece is beautiful.  She is clearly dedicated and has put in A LOT of hard work. I appreciate that in anyone, not just artists. In this clip, from the semi-finals of Ukraine’s Got Talent, she uses her art, music, setting, theatrics and her costume to good effect. It clearly moved the audience. Even without sand in their eyes, many were crying.

She eventually won Ukraine’s Got Talent.

This 8-minute piece is called “You are always nearby” and it is a story of a young couple who were separated by the war. “The young Lady and little Son were waiting for the Man to come from war, but he was killed. In the end he came to their window and watched them with a sight of love and hope.”

Not only is she talented and passionate, she dedicates her time to help children who need medical treatment and economic help. She also a champion for pregnant women who had considered abortion because of lack of resources but decided to have a child in spite of economic challenges.

I can also learn from her dedication. Together with the help of her husband, they spent months looking for the right sand to use (reminds me of Michelangelo looking for the ‘perfect’ slab of marble). Eventually they found the perfect sand – volcanic sand. The only place they could buy it from was from a group of geologists. However, it cost too much. Instead of giving up, her husband Igor, sold all his printing equipment from his little magazine business to buy 3kg of sand. When she started on sand art, she was a mother of a little boy – cooking, cleaning, changing diapers, playing with her son during the day.  She would start working on her craft from 10pm to 4am every day. It was so difficult that she felt like giving up in three days. But she persisted, and in her words, her discouragement “vanished into thin air.” The craft was physically demanding, requiring her to stand for hours on end but she kept going. I salute her passion, commitment, dedication and hard work.

She attributes her gifts and success to God.

Read more about Kseniya and her story here.

Source: https://www.facebook.com/georgehtakei

I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
Of my own mind; and in the midst of tears
I hid from Him, and under running laughter.
Up vistaed hopes I sped;
And shot, precipitated,
Adown Titanic glooms of chasmed fears,
From those strong Feet that followed, followed after.
But with unhurrying chase,
And unperturbèd pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
They beat—and a Voice beat
More instant than the Feet—
‘All things betray thee, who betrayest Me’.

I pleaded, outlaw-wise,
By many a hearted casement, curtained red,
Trellised with intertwining charities;
(For, though I knew His love Who followed,
Yet was I sore adread
Lest, having Him, I must have naught beside.)
But, if one little casement parted wide,
The gust of His approach would clash it to:
Fear wist not to evade, as Love wist to pursue.
Across the margent of the world I fled,
And troubled the gold gateway of the stars,
Smiting for shelter on their clanged bars;
Fretted to dulcet jars
And silvern chatter the pale ports o’ the moon.
I said to Dawn: Be sudden—to Eve: Be soon;
With thy young skiey blossom heap me over
From this tremendous Lover—
Float thy vague veil about me, lest He see!
I tempted all His servitors, but to find
My own betrayal in their constancy,
In faith to Him their fickleness to me,
Their traitorous trueness, and their loyal deceit.
To all swift things for swiftness did I sue;
Clung to the whistling mane of every wind.
But whether they swept, smoothly fleet,
The long savannahs of the blue;
Or, whether, Thunder-driven,
They clanged his chariot ‘thwart a heaven,
Plashy with flying lightnings round the spurn o’ their feet:—
Fear wist not to evade as Love wist to pursue.
Still with unhurrying chase,
And unperturbed pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
Came on the following Feet,
And a Voice above their beat—
‘Naught shelters thee, who wilt not shelter Me.’

I sought no more after that which I strayed
In face of man or maid;
But still within the little children’s eyes
Seems something, something that replies,
They at least are for me, surely for me!
I turned me to them very wistfully;
But just as their young eyes grew sudden fair
With dawning answers there,
Their angel plucked them from me by the hair.
Come then, ye other children, Nature’s—share
With me’ (said I) ‘your delicate fellowship;
Let me greet you lip to lip,
Let me twine with you caresses,
Wantoning
With our Lady-Mother’s vagrant tresses,
Banqueting
With her in her wind-walled palace,
Underneath her azured dais,
Quaffing, as your taintless way is,
From a chalice
Lucent-weeping out of the dayspring.’
So it was done:
I in their delicate fellowship was one—
Drew the bolt of Nature’s secrecies.
I knew all the swift importings
On the wilful face of skies;
I knew how the clouds arise
Spumèd of the wild sea-snortings;
All that’s born or dies
Rose and drooped with; made them shapers
Of mine own moods, or wailful divine;
With them joyed and was bereaven.
I was heavy with the even,
When she lit her glimmering tapers
Round the day’s dead sanctities.
I laughed in the morning’s eyes.
I triumphed and I saddened with all weather,
Heaven and I wept together,
And its sweet tears were salt with mortal mine:
Against the red throb of its sunset-heart
I laid my own to beat,
And share commingling heat;
But not by that, by that, was eased my human smart.
In vain my tears were wet on Heaven’s grey cheek.
For ah! we know not what each other says,
These things and I; in sound I speak—
Their sound is but their stir, they speak by silences.
Nature, poor stepdame, cannot slake my drouth;
Let her, if she would owe me,
Drop yon blue bosom-veil of sky, and show me
The breasts o’ her tenderness:
Never did any milk of hers once bless
My thirsting mouth.
Nigh and nigh draws the chase,
With unperturbed pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy;
And past those noisèd Feet
A voice comes yet more fleet
‘Lo! naught contents thee, who content’st not Me.’

Naked I wait Thy love’s uplifted stroke!
My harness piece by piece Thou has hewn from me,
And smitten me to my knee;
I am defenceless utterly.
I slept, methinks, and woke,
And, slowly gazing, find me stripped in sleep.
In the rash lustihead of my young powers,
I shook the pillaring hours
And pulled my life upon me; grimed with smears,
I stand amidst the dust o’ the mounded years
My mangled youth lies dead beneath the heap.
My days have crackled and gone up in smoke,
Have puffed and burst as sun-starts on a stream.
Yea, faileth now even dream
The dreamer, and the lute the lutanist;
Even the linked fantasies, in whose blossomy twist
I swung the earth a trinket at my wrist,
Are yielding; cords of all too weak account
For earth with heavy griefs so overplussed.
Ah! is Thy love indeed
A weed, albeit an amarinthine weed,
Suffering no flowers except its own to mount?
Ah! must
Designer infinite!
Ah! must Thou char the wood ere Thou canst limn with it?
My freshness spent its wavering shower i’ the dust;
And now my heart is as a broken fount,
Wherein tear-drippings stagnate, spilt down ever
From the dank thoughts that shiver
Upon the sighful branches of my mind.
Such is; what is to be?
The pulp so bitter, how shall taste the rind?
I dimly guess what Time in mists confounds;
Yet ever and anon a trumpet sounds
From the hid battlements of Eternity;
Those shaken mists a space unsettle, then
Round the half-glimpsed turrets slowly wash again.
But not ere him who summoneth
I first have seen, enwound
With glooming robes purpureal, cypress-crowned;
His name I know and what his trumpet saith.
Whether man’s heart or life it be which yields
Thee harvest, must Thy harvest-fields
Be dunged with rotten death?

Now of that long pursuit
Comes on at hand the bruit;
That Voice is round me like a bursting sea:
‘And is thy earth so marred,
Shattered in shard on shard?
Lo, all things fly thee, for thou fliest Me!

‘Strange, piteous, futile thing!
Wherefore should any set thee love apart?
Seeing none but I makes much of naught’ (He said),
‘And human love needs human meriting:
How hast thou merited
Of all man’s clotted clay the dingiest clot?
Alack, thou knowest not
How little worthy of any love thou art!
Whom wilt thou find to love ignoble thee,
Save Me, save only Me?
All which I took from thee I did but take,
Not for thy harms,
But just that thou might’st seek it in My arms.
All which thy child’s mistake
Fancies as lost, I have stored for thee at home:
Rise, clasp My hand, and come!’

Halts by me that footfall:
Is my gloom, after all,
Shade of His hand, outstretched caressingly?
‘Ah, fondest, blindest, weakest,
I am He Whom thou seekest!
Thou dravest love from thee, who dravest Me.’

 

Love this song. It’s happy and the lyrics are wonderful.

—————————

Little darlin’ don’t you see the sun is shining
just for you, only today
If you hurry you can get a ray on you, come with me, just to play
Like every humming bird and bumblebee
Every sunflower, cloud and every tree
I feel so much a part of this
Nature’s got me high and it’s beautiful
I’m with this deep eternal universe
From death until rebirth

This corner of the earth is like me in many ways
I can sit for hours here and watch the emerald feathers play
On the face of this I’m blessed
When the sunlight comes for free
I know this corner of the earth it smiles at me
So inspired of that there’s nothing left to do or say
Think I’ll dream, ’til the stars shine

The wind it whispers and the clouds don’t seem to care
And I know inside, that it’s all mine
It’s the chorus of the breakin’ dawn
The mist that comes before the sun is born
To a hazy afternoon in May
Nature’s got me high and it’s so beautiful
I’m with this deep eternal universe from death until rebirth

[chorus]
You know that this corner of the earth is like me in many ways
I can sit for hours here and watch the emerald feathers play
On the face of it I’m blessed
When the sunlight comes for free
I know this corner of the earth it smiles at me x5

This corner of the earth, is like me in many ways
I can sit for hours here and watch the emerald feathers play
When the sunlight comes for free
I know the corner of this earth it smiles at me

I re-read the scriptures in reference to Jesus’ final hours in preparation to write the Easter Production by my church. The accounts at the Garden of Gethsemane was hard. Very very hard. I saw things I had never seen before.

I’m not going to write an essay here. I’m just recording here the words, phrases and sentences that struck me enough from the scriptures to highlight them. So what you see below is simply the Words I highlighted and the associated underlines (bolded and underlined below).

These are all from the NASB version of the Bible and are not in context.

My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me.

Fell on His face and prayed.

Let the cup pass from Me.

He went away to second time and prayed.

Went away and prayed a third time.

Immediately Judas went to Jesus and said, “Hail Rabbi” and kissed Him.

Began to be very distressed and troubled.

Deeply grieved to the point of death.

Fell to the ground and began to pray.

Remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will.

Again, he went away and prayed, saying the same words.

Whomever I kiss, He is the one.

And they all left Him and fled.

He knelt down and began to pray.

Remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.

And being in agony He was praying very fervently.

His sweat became like drops of blood.

Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?

 

Now just taking the Words I double underlined, I’m left with:

Deeply grieved.

Fell on His face.

Second time.

Third time.

Distressed.

Troubled.

Deeply grieved.

To the point of death.

Fell to the ground.

Remove this cup.

Again.

Same Words.

They all left Him and fled.

He knelt down.

Remove this cup.

Agony.

He was praying very fervently.

His sweat became like drops of blood.

 

Amazing Grace. Crazy Love.

Like many Singaporeans, I was not at all pleased to read about the curry incident where a mainland Chinese family went to the Community Mediation Centre to ask that their Singaporean Indian neighbours stop cooking curry as they could not stand the smell. This was after the Indian family already bent over backwards agreed to cook curry with the windows and doors closed. When I cook curry, or anything for that matter, I leave my windows and even doors open as I live in a small space. I have a Singaporean Chinese neighbour (we often exchange food), Japanese, Indian Nationals and a Caucasian (I think Russian). No mainland Chinese neighbours though.

There has been an uprising on social media and as of Sunday afternoon (13th August) almost 30,000 people have agreed to a nationwide call to cook curry on 21st August. Thats great for showing our solidarity to our national identity of harmony, tolerance and mutual respect. I too am participating by cooking and attending a curry pot luck which I suggested to a group of friends.

However, what disturbs me is some of the sentiments against Chinese Nationals and Foreigners in general. One only has to look at “Cook a Pot of Curry” Page on Facebook and trawl through the comments. Many comments are negative and flame the Chinese National. Many of them call them to go back to their own country.

Now, I know for a fact not all Chinese Nationals in Singapore are like the infamous neighbours. So as a Singaporean, while I condemn this particular incident in terms of attitude and eventual decision by the Community Mediation Centre, I cannot judge all foreigners in Singapore, Chinese or otherwise.

I also look at the one condition the Indian family asked for when they were asked by Community Mediation Centre to cook curry only when their Chinese National neighbours were not at home. The Indian family’s one condition is that they wanted their neighbours at least give their curry a try.

So, in the spirit of this Singaporean Indian family, I say let’s use Curry to Unite and not divide. Let’s use curry to educate. Let’s go ahead full force next Sunday 21st August to “Cook a pot of curry” but let’s do so in a spirit of unity, inviting our Singaporean and non-Singaporean friends and neighbours to embrace our curries – Indian, Chinese, Malay or Eurasian and let’s use curry for positive change.

Food is one thing that unites us as Asians. Being invited to someone’s home is a big part of our Asian welcome.

If there are a few bad eggs, no problem. Just don’t use them in the curry 🙂

I’m looking forward to next Sunday. Yum.