The 21st Century Pilgrim

pil·grim/ ˈpilɡrəm/ noun
a person who journeys to a sacred place for religious reasons.
synonyms: worshiper, devotee, believer

Pilgrim. Ah that word. I know it's not the usual word that you can find in 21st century. The first time I stumbled over that word was when I accidentally found a writing from Susannah Spurgeon when she wrote about her journey and relationship with her husband, Charles Spurgeon - the famous preacher from the 19th century. Me, being curious as always, ended up googling and I found out that The Spurgeons read "The Pilgrim's Progress" and it was assumed that the word 'pilgrim' in Susannah's writing came from their love of the book. Not so long after that, I downloaded the e-book version from Desiring God. 

I was quite surprised to find that I love this kind of book. I smiled when I read the protagonist named "Christian". I smiled even wider to read the catchy names of the characters in that book. "Hypocrisy", "Talkative", "Atheist", "Help", that blatantly describe their characters; or how Bunyan wrote the names of the places like "Valley of the Shadow of the Death" or "The Wicket Gate" that sound so familiar especially if you grow up being Christian. Though the book was written almost 350 years ago.

Though I love the idea of it, and though the Desiring God's version is the revised and abridged version of the original text, I still find myself struggle to read it to finish. Even when I highlighted all the names, places, and quotes with different colors! I don't know if it was because I read the e-book version instead of the printed one. Or if it actually could use some improvisations

Then I thought to myself.... maybe few illustrations here and there will be interesting. Maybe the color coding for every place or character will suffice. Maybe emphasis on important quotes or songs will help me not to be too distracted. 

And that's how it started. 

The next thing I remember I started finding more about it. Then proposing it to one of my lecturers through random conversation just a few months before my pre-final project class. Then actually doing a presentation in front of the class. 

And then how it went. 

I was quite overwhelmed by the resources I have. This is quite a legendary book indeed, concluding by all the commentaries and versions that I found. And I ended up failing to write it systematically. To be honest the journey hasn't been all sunshine but a rocky road indeed. Though I passed my first thesis defense I wasn't satisfied with the whole result. 

And now how it's going....
Currently I have one thing that I didn't really have in the trimester of design student life: TIME. Now I have plenty. (well not that plenty if you consider the amount of works needed to bring this to realisation but quite enough than most of my friends); The ideas spread quickly. 

But in the end, 
I guess what I want is the pilgrimage itself. Not only the best final project I could ever achieve but also a pilgrimage to get closer to my Creator. I thought of this from the beginning, will it make me understand more of God? will it make others understand more of God? Will it glorify Him?  

So I don't know why it feels like a burden. It feels like the burden to bring faith-related topic as final project. It feels like a burden whenever I do something wrong to those around me while carrying this message. It feels like the burden to represent this to others. Maybe because I relied too much on myself. I know this book is not the bible though it is frequently said "second next to the bible". I know that I don't romanticize this book as the best book I have ever read. But the whole process also made me question and re-question everything I know. 

I find myself in Doubting Castle, the part of the book that felt relatable to me. I find myself got lost because of the advices of Mr.Worldly Wiseman. I had a fear that I might be the Talkative, one of the fake pilgrims in this story. 

But I ended up understanding that the pilgrimage is not meant to be perfect, it just simply meant to be walked on. 

As I have to walk through the next few months to the finish line. As I have to walk through unknown path that He has made after my university life. As I have to walk through this life with some of the companions I've made along the way, even with the ones who left the way Faithful did. As I have to walk the way that is set before me. 

Christian himself was an unconventional hero for he was not perfect. He was laughed by his family. He stayed off the narrow path. He once wanted to commit suicide. He was distracted by a lot of things. But he endured until the very end.

And that's how I want it to be. 

Endure. Persevere. Until the very end. 

Fighting the good fight.
Finishing the race. 
Keeping the faith. 

The Reason

I just took my very first pregnancy test yesterday.

I looked at the doctor with disbelief.
"Do I really have to do this? Because I can assur..".
"Yes. We have to be sure on the paper that you're not pregnant".

I see his scribbling on the paper that I had to take to the lab. "Amenorrhea". Great. Another disease which I can't pronounce easily..... It's only a month since I found a thick blood on my hand after a cough....... what I found out few days later as a bronchitis. I spent weeks wearing masks wherever I go. Now I have another disease?

As I took the urine sample I thought to myself .......
"Just when I thought it couldn't get any worse than this."
But to be honest, things actually could get worse.......

As the doctor didn't give me clear answer, it means I have to make another appointments with another doctor in bigger hospital .... all by myself. Since I can be sure for 100% I am not pregnant there must be something wrong in my body that causes it stopping its natural cycle. Maybe a cyst. Maybe something wrong in my hypothalamus. Maybe because of my obesity. Maybe an infertility. Maybe because I'm too stressed out and depressed. There will be another tests. There will be a lot of "I told you so"s and there will be a lot of time and energy wasted for this thing. Not only the causes are terrifying but the results too.....

And for once, I am sick and tired of being sick and tired. 

I don't know since when I made eating as my escape. Has it always been this way? I don't remember since when I am angry whenever mom brings up the topic, which usually makes me want to eat more. I don't remember since when ...... but it's getting worse and worse. My cousin shook her head and asked me, "If you know it's bad for you, why are you still doing it?"

I know right...... 

From every failed attempt and every yoyo result I ended up giving up a long time ago. From every night when I couldn't sleep I have to eat a comfort food to temporarily cure it. From every abusive words, I ate even more. From a stare that I can't forget when saying "Of course I don't like you". You. For years I craved for someone to "I like you just as you are". But I do not love me just as I am. Why do I keep expecting other people to do it?

I know things could actually get worse but ...... things could get better also.

As I tie my running shoes I keep convincing myself, "I don't have to like this. I just have to do it". And as I see people try to fit the bikini suit....... I'm doing this to stay alive. Fighting against flesh has never been this hard for me to be honest. And I still don't know how to do this because this is not only a physical matter but also my mental.

Someone once told me that we shouldn't test God for the health He has given us with. And another saying that says... everything, including physical is a way to worship God. Now, at my rock bottom in my relationship with everything, I ask myself, "Is it too late? Will I get through this? Will I survive to live years later?". I try.... and it's really hard not to rely on my own understanding for my own thoughts aren't my best friends right now.

I realize I can't do this alone......

I'm writing this not to get any attention but as a reminder everytime I want to give up. As a reminder maybe one day the reason to started it all.

Something 'bout tree. A quote.

"For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone. They are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche.

In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfil themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves. Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree.

When a tree is cut down and reveals its naked death-wound to the sun, one can read its whole history in the luminous, inscribed disk of its trunk: in the rings of its years, its scars, all the struggle, all the suffering, all the sickness, all the happiness and prosperity stand truly written, the narrow years and the luxurious years, the attacks withstood, the storms endured. And every young farm-boy knows that the hardest and noblest wood has the narrowest rings, that high on the mountains and in continuing danger the most indestructible, the strongest, the ideal trees grow.

Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.

A tree says: A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought, I am life from eternal life. The attempt and the risk that the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form and veins of my skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. I was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail.

A tree says: My strength is trust. I know nothing about my fathers, I know nothing about the thousand children that every year spring out of me. I live out the secret of my seed to the very end, and I care for nothing else. I trust that God is in me. I trust that my labor is holy. Out of this trust I live.

When we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer, then a tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult. Those are childish thoughts. Let God speak within you, and your thoughts will grow silent. You are anxious because your path leads away from mother and home. But every step and every day lead you back again to the mother. Home is neither here nor there. Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all.

A longing to wander tears my heart when I hear trees rustling in the wind at evening. If one listens to them silently for a long time, this longing reveals its kernel, its meaning. It is not so much a matter of escaping from one's suffering, though it may seem to be so. It is a longing for home, for a memory of the mother, for new metaphors for life. It leads home. Every path leads homeward, every step is birth, every step is death, every grave is mother.

So the tree rustles in the evening, when we stand uneasy before our own childish thoughts: Trees have long thoughts, long-breathing and restful, just as they have longer lives than ours. They are wiser than we are, as long as we do not listen to them. But when we have learned how to listen to trees, then the brevity and the quickness and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable joy. Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness.”

― Hermann Hesse, Bäume. Betrachtungen und Gedichte

Sorry doesn't simply fix things

I'm the kind of girl who says sorry too much or not at all. But for the friends, maybe the first one suits me better. I always say sorry. I don't know if I really mean it. I think I do. I hope I do. But for saying sorry that much, I guess, sometimes ... I don't. 

Maybe I hope that sorry is a magic word that can make things all rainbow and sunshine. I remember when I was 2nd grade in elementary school I faked a bit tear and I cried for having 40/100 for the math test. And I said sorry to my mom. And she forgave me. And to be fair, I wonder if all those who hurt me in the past lined up and said sorry. I know I would forgave them, too. 

And maybe I've never realized it but I took sorry for granted, sometimes. Even worse, sometimes I'd rather not to say it at all. Especially to my closest ones. I'd keep it and suck it, and hope that they'd forget it. But they didn't, did they. They'd remember. But maybe they treasured the relation too much so they chose to stay. 

Recently someone said sorry to me. But the sorry kept spreading to the next questions. What does the sorry stand for? Does it real? Is it for ... this... for is it for everything? Can't you see that it doesn't fix things? And I remember I said these words: 

A 'sorry' without the solution or the resolution to be better is just an empty word.

I know fairly it isn't. Sometimes it only takes a bit sorry to heal things. But in this case, I don't think it is. What difference a sorry can make? It's just a word. A word against thousands actions.

And now these words coming back to me like two-edged sword. I made an awful mistake to someone. Really. Awful. And he's actually being kind about it. He kept saying it's okay. But it's not. I kept saying sorry for countless times. I kept telling him that it bothers me also. I kept telling him that I'd seek it and find it.

But once again, sorry doesn't simply fix things. 

It doesn't. Life is not the computer with the Ctrl+Z. Life is anything but it. He still needs the solution for the mess I've made. I still need to fix it. I still need to be responsible to him. And I still have to think until it's found. And no matter how I say or convince him, or even writing this, it simply doesn't matter. It really doesn't.

It actually makes me frustrated. Seriously I know I've tried. And I'm tired. But I can't just face it and say sorry. But I seriously have no idea what to do. Duh.

So while here me trying to fix things. I pray hard, to see a bit miracle.


(Our) Coffee Shop

It once happened like that,
You brought me to the coffee shop near where you lived
We sat there for hours and hours til late and it was supposed to close
We walked outside, slowly, and my tummy felt weird
Not because of the caffeine that I consumed
But simply because of how you made me feel 

Then it used to be like that
We would sit there for hours, at the same corner
I would open my laptop and you would open yours
You would try to finish your task 
You would try your best not to be too distracted
As you couldn't resist not to talk with me 
But even if we sat in the silence, we both felt comfortable 
There was no gap to be filled, we respect each other's space
Back then we would talk about everything except that gap between us

Now it happens like this, 
I would sit on the same corner, I would order the same coffee
They never have to ask for my coffee nor my name again 
I will still open my laptop, and I will try my best not to be too distracted
As everytime I hear the barista spells a name like yours
I will sit straightly and I can feel my heart is pounding once again 
What a curse, as your name is a common name 
There must be thousands! 
But they weren't you. They aren't you. 
For you once left. And never come back again 
And I will sit here, once again, 
With a slight hope
How I hope to see you open that door again!

So here I am. 
5.26 am. It's just a work of fiction inspired by hours that I spent doing my deadline once on a coffee shop nearby.

The Unsent Letter

"The pain that you've been feeling, can't compare to the joy that's coming."
- Romans 8:18

To you, 
I try to wonder how the finish line will be like 
Right now, with the upcoming deadlines and all, 
It's harder than ever to imagine it that way
I imagine it will be a day with a light rain
You will attend on my graduation day 
I can finally say to you, "I've made it"

But now, it's hard to imagine it that way
As I called you in the middle of the night with shaky voice
Exhausted as I've been, sick as I am, being vulnerable and weak
Admitting silently that you're right. That you're always right. 
Too often I am too focused on my own track I forget about myself
Too often I am too focused and forget about you, too 

Sorry that my dreams may not align with yours
I'm not even ready to ask or to tell you that
I'm still trying to figure it all out
I know you'll always be annoyed with my choices
You never understand me the way they do 
You may never get it why I do what I do 
But in the end, when they all leave and forget me 
You'll always be the one who will stay
You'll always be the one who will pray
You'll always be the one whom I turn to

So I can't promise I can make you proud
But with all these tears and struggles, 
I simply want you to know.... in every step,
I'm doing this with thought of you
and I hope you know that


The Year of Wonderful Unknown

"Here we go, going in alone into the dark and wonderful unknown, let us go, let us go"
- Wonderful Unknown, Ingrid Michaelson

Every December for the last few years, I will start reflecting what God has been doing my life throughout the year and seeking for what He's going to do for the upcoming year. Last year made no difference. I had chickenpox at the end of November and I had extra 2 weeks to stay at home, doing nothing. That was the time when I got the chance to think and rethink everything.

I did not know why but somehow I got a blurry vision. For me at that time, 2016 seemed so blurry with every change I'd face and all. I couldn't explain it why. But all I knew, 2016 would be a leap of faith for me.

Then through the devotions and all. I was reminded over and over again of this sentence "I will be with you" from Isaiah 43. And somehow I got out of nowhere the Valley of Vision's prayer for new year:

"I launch my bark on the unknown waters of this year,
with Thee, O Father as my harbour,
Thee, O Son, at my helm,
Thee O Holy Spirit, filling my sails.
Guide me to heaven with my loins girt,
my lamp burning,
my ear open to Thy calls,
my heart full of love,
my soul free."
- part of Praying for A New Year - Puritan Prayers

then later I got this prayer from Sir Francis Drake that inspired me so much:

"Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too well pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we have dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wider seas
Where storms will show your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.

We ask You to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push into the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love."

Somehow, I got the vision and I used the words "Wonderful Unknown" based on Ingrid Michaelson's song title (the lyrics didn't mean a lot except a story about newly wed). I barely see anything for 2016.... all things seemed so unpredictable. But I know it will be wonderful. The only predictable thing is that I know my God is good.

I think God always has something interesting when it comes to sea. Whether to find disciples, walk on the water, part the sea, calm the storm, by faith to throw the mountains in the midst of it, put someone in the belly of the whale, cast our sins, or even to describe His love. It's just the wonder, the fascination, the mystery of it. As I'm facing the uncertainties and sailing to the unknown this year, I let Him be the captain.

So basically the vision is to embark and embrace the unknown journey with known God. So the emphasis will be TRUST, EXPLORE, and REVEAL all the way of this pilgrimage. So however it will end up, whether in the belly's whale, walk on the storm, calm the raging seas, cast our sins, or even part the sea.... I will be valiant enough to go on if I'm with Him.

And through these last 4 months, I can say it's more unpredictable than ever. So many experiences that have made me to trust God more than ever. My plan got mixed-up. I had to schedule and reschedule everything. I have to trust and surrender more than I thought it would be.

Then, for exploring.... I can say I have fun doing that wkwkwk. I start it from the simple things. This year, I start eating foods from places I've never been. Or reading the books from really different point of views. Or even watching movies genres I used to dislike. Try new experiences more than ever. Talk to people I've never talked before. And I start liking some people who were once strangers. For this point, maybe all I can say I'm grateful ;)

Frankly to say, there are so many uncertainties this year. I have classes without my usual classmates, which means I have to work with new team and to meet my juniors. I have to leave SFS and my organization life and start a new campus ministry I've never known before. I have to find internships much sooner just when I thought it would be in early 2017. I have to made myself clear about my Christian worldview in order to find new place to grow in new community. I also have these never-ending questions for God about whether should I stay, should I go. It became clear that I have this heart, whether it's for traditional one, or for youths, or for Christian media. At this point, I feel like I have to leave everything that I've known to sail to the unfamiliarity. It feels like going from Jakarta & high school to moved to university all over again. I have to adapt. And to be honest, leaving comfort zone is never easy. Fighting against flesh is also not easy for me. It's hard. It's uncertain. It's so much easier said than done.

Last year I had one-word-resolution, which was : "Love". And at first I thought this year would be all about Faith. But.... however, as this year unfolds, I also learn and re-learn about love. And hope. It's just never-ending process, I guess.

If you want to know more what this year is all about : Pinterest

Here's a playlist to accompany me throughout the year :

  1. Amanda Cook - Voyage
  2. Amanda Cook - Shepherd
  3. Josh Bates - Never give up on me
  4. Steffany Gretzinger - Steady heart
  5. Steffany Gretzinger - Getting there
  6. Delirious - History maker
  7. Hillsong worship - Here with you
  8. Hillsong United - Oceans
  9. Hillsong United - Captain
  10. Hillsong Y&F - Sinking deep 
  11. Jamie Grace - You lead
  12. Bethel Music - You make me brave 
  13. Bethel Music - God I look to You
  14. Bethel Music - It is well
  15. Bethel Music - In over my head
  16. JJ Heller - This year
  17. Casting Crowns - Follow me 
  18. Casting Crowns - Voice of truth
  19. Ginny Owens - No borders
  20. Ginny Owens - Deeper 
  21. Ginny Owens - I am Yours
  22. Selah - Be thou my vision
  23. MercyMe - You know better
  24. Moriah Peters - To leave it behind
  25. Jhene Aiko - Eternal Sunshine
  26. Joe Mendick & Kyle Selig - Sailing again 
  27. Yiruma - Lord, hold my hand
  28. For King & Country - Steady
  29. For King & Country - Shoulders
  30. Sidewalk Prophets - Homeless Heart
  31. Sidewalk Prophets - Help me find it
  32. William McDowell - I give myself away
  33. Ingrid Michaelson - Wonderful Unknown
  34. JPCC Worship - More than enough
  35. Sovereign Grace - Gladly would I leave behind me
  36. Aurora - Half the world away
  37. Ivan Handojo - Pada waktunya
  38. A Great Big World - You'll be okay
  39. Worshipmob - Dream again
  40. Hall & Oates - You make my dreams
So here's to the trust without borders, to the wonders of the adventure, to the stillness of soul through the storm, to the hope as the anchor, and grace that will sink me deeper. So here's to the steady voyage as a pilgrim.  So here we go. God has been faithful then. He will be faithful still.