Maria Holland

Songs That Comfort – and Songs That Challenge

In Uncategorized on May 14, 2010 at 12:22 am

Three classes today:

  • Oral: lunch with XuLei, where I told her about last night’s online happenings, asked her advice, and discussed our relationship histories.
  • Writing: XuLei and I editing a letter I wrote to Fr. Zhao in English and Chinese
  • Listening: actual class in a classroom – lame.  But I stayed awake really well and got almost everything right, so score!

This afternoon, I received some really exciting news!  The honeymoon couple from Wuyishan are pregnant (!!!!) – I’m going to an 阿姨!

Today is Ascension Thursday, the 40th day after Easter.  Crazily enough, in China this solemnity is actually celebrated on Thursday, the 40th day after Easter, instead of Sunday, the 43rd day!  I went over to church and found me a nice pew up front, but was dragged upstairs to the choir loft because they’re still singing the Misa de Angelis.  I know I said I wasn’t going to sing in the choir again, but I had no problems up there today.

In fact throughout Mass I felt an overwhelming sense of peace and contentment.  In addition to last night’s near-marriage proposal (haha), I’ve been struggling with some uncertainty about the future after next year and it was all kind of stressing me out.  But getting to go to the church – especially today, on a weekday – was just what I needed, I guess.  The Gospel was about Jesus ascending into heaven and promising to send us an advocate, the Holy Spirit.  That’s comforting, no?  After this year, seeing God’s presence in my life here in China, how can I doubt that He’ll be with me wherever I end up after this?

There’s been a song on my mind since I learned about this scholarship last spring, ‘Tis Good, Lord, To Be Here.  The last verse means so much to me:

‘Tis good, Lord, to be here!
Yet we may not remain;
But since you bid us leave the mount,
Come with us to the plain.

Goodbyes are hard; it was hard to leave America for a whole year and it’ll be hard to leave China when the year is up.  But I don’t know that the life I’m called to is very stationary – no matter how much I love a place, the time will come to leave it.  And no matter how hard it is to leave it, I won’t be going on my own. 

Bishop Cai said Mass.  Now that’s he’s the bishop of Xiamen, our Lundu church is his cathedral, which I think means he’s going to be our main celebrant.  This is another reason for me to be excited about his ordination as bishop!  I understood a good part of his homily, but need to seriously brush up on my knowledge of bishop-related things.  It appears there’s a special dismissal that they use, which I don’t know in English or Chinese (yet). 

I went to say hi to him after Mass and, in the usual way people look after me here, he inquired to make sure I had eaten.  I hadn’t, which resulted in me being invited to join them for “xifan”.  (I was hoping this meant 西饭, or “Western food”, but instead meant 洗饭, which means “soggy rice porridge”.  But still!)  While we were talking, I asked him about videos and photos of his ordination, after which I ended up in possession of a full uncut DVD of the ceremony.  Sweet! 

This evening since getting back from church has been a little bit crazy.  At one point I was chatting with 6 people in 2 languages using 3 different programs.  My weekend plans, including tomorrow because class was cancelled, filled up in a matter of minutes.  At least my would-be-fiance apologized for last night and said he was “just joking and didn’t think I would take it seriously”, and I pretended to believe him. 

There’s this guy at church, Bing, who doesn’t seem to like me and I can’t figure out why.  My entire experience would lead me to believe we would be besties – he’s a fellow Catholic (leader of the youth group, actually) and a fellow XiaDa student.  Basically, unlike most of the Chinese people who want to be my friend, we actually have things in common.  Plus, you know, I’m a foreigner, which usually means +1,000,000 bonus point.  But, while I know he knows who I am and knows a bit about me, he’s just not interested.  He’s polite, answers my questions, and tells me where I’m supposed to be when I’m not there, but nothing beyond that – no questions, no chatting, no relationship. 

I have theories, none of which are based on me being inherently unlikeable, although it occurs to me that maybe I should consider that as an option.  I think I’m just a really big hassle and he knows it and doesn’t want to mess with it.  It’s understandable, certainly more so than the many Chinese people who for some reason think I am worth the trouble.  But, yeah, it bothers me.  Even more so after tonight, when I learned he’s also a Mechanical Engineering student!  He must know my major but I can’t remember him ever saying that he was also ME, which seems like a striking omission to me. 

But before I get too bothered about this, another song comes to mind.

O Master, grant that I may never seek
So much to be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love with all my heart

Since coming to China as a nearly-helpless foreigner, I’ve gotten accustomed to being looked after.  Especially at church, where I’ve been exceptionally well taken care of, I’ve forgotten my call to take care of others.  I can think of two examples just today where I got indignant when others failed to console me, understand me, love me, or reach out to me – and two examples just today in which I neglected to console, understand, love, or reach out to others.  So that’s kind of sad, and apparently something I need to work on. 

  1. I agree…for starters, you need to be a LOT nicer to your dad!

  2. Maria, you have step one down so well: you contemplate your role in life so well and are willing to analyze it and work on it. Some of us never get there…………….. You are amazing and well on your way!

  3. You continue to be an inspiration to me….love,

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