Making Light of Things

August 2014 Archives

Walking Alone in the Rain

Photostory posted on Exposure: Walking Alone in the Rain.

Dark clouds over Chinese Gardens

The skies looked like they were about to unleash the fury of Zeus’ full bladder. But photography has always been this tug of war between the vision in my head (sunshine piercing through clouds, lighting up the pagodas beneath) and what I’ve been given (flat light, low contrast, little colour).

I would try to make the best of what I had - I did not want to waste the trip this morning.

Pagoda in the Chinese GardensAs the drops fell it became a game of cat and mouse. I walked out when the rain was a light drizzle and ducked under the shelter of pavilions and pagodas whenever the rain threatened to pelt me silly.

I met an elderly man sitting behind one of the pagodas. For the past few decades, he has been on the waters, clearing the lake of discarded plastic bags and bottles. He recounted how these gardens used to be filled with newlyweds going about their phototaking. These days, the newly married would rather go to the spanking new Gardens by the Bay, he said.

I wondered if Singapore treated its elderly the same way. We’ve built a city for the young and driven.

There were at least half a dozen signs at the gates to the gardens stating what was prohibited: no food and drinks; no smoking; no fishing; and skateboarding. That included my little kickscooter.

Great Heron, Japanese Gardens

Purple Heron and Milky Stork, Japanese Gardens

I spent a good hour and a half photographing these leggy supermodels. The rain meant that I had pretty much the whole gardens to myself. The birds were quite comfortable as I inched towards them for a closer shot. They were the real residents of these gardens, and I was privileged to be their guest.

Guess the rain wasn’t such a bad thing after all.

Remembering Sacrifice

For the intended experience of this post, visit Remembering Sacrifice on Exposure.

Kranji War Memorial, Singapore

They were fathers, sons, mothers and daughters. Many of them younger than I was. They began life so differently: they were Australian, British, Indian, Malay, Chinese; and yet all of them came together at this point in history and made the ultimate sacrifice.

Unknown soldier, Kranji War Memorial, SingaporeEvery few tombstones, you’d find one that bears no name, only the acknowledgement that someone lies here, whose life was extinguished too early for his or her time.

Away from the noise and the frenetic pace of the city, I could feel the slowing down of my pulse, and I could almost feel the uncertainty and fear that must have been in the hearts of these young men and women as they were thrust into the ravages of war. What made them fight for this land that wasn’t their own?

We could debate endlessly on whether we needlessly romanticise their deaths, but there is no debate as to whether we should honour their sacrifice with humility and gratitude.

Kranji War Memorial, Singapore

Comes to a close

Cleared out desk

I cleared out my desk last Friday.

There are so many things I will miss about working in the government, but I will miss the people most of all. Regardless of what you read on social media, my time in the public service has been defined by the admirable quality of people I have worked with. There is a certain grit that runs through most of them - the tenacity to soldier on to serve the people of Singapore come hell or high water.

I am blessed to have known so many, and I only hope my own quality upheld what it means to be a public officer.

Help Meet

And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” Genesis 2:18

As Faith cleared out the old mail, she looked at her old tax receipts, and a certain sadness came upon her. It has been almost a year since she stopped work to be with the children.

“Are you sad that you’re not working?” I asked.

“You know, if we had my old income, we wouldn’t have to worry so much about our finances, or we could feel less reluctant to go on overseas holidays, that sorta thing. And I feel bad that you have to work hard to support us all.”

We talk, and we both agree that the additional income would have come at great cost: the time spent with the children in their formative years and the opportunities to build lifelong bonds with them. We thank God that we have enough. Not so little that we live in constant frustration that we might murmur against Him, or so much that we would lose sight of the Giver.

My dearest Faith, I do not mind working hard for you or for the family. Not one bit. As I remember how it was when we first started out: how you married me, broke and unemployed; how you supported us while I tried to build — and failed — my little web design studio; how you came home from work each day, encouraged me, and believed in me, that I was working my tail off even though our bank account had nothing to show for it.

It is for these, and a million other reasons — each one a beautiful fragment of our lives as together — that make me want to work hard for you. It is because of how you love me that I choose to jump out of bed to tend to all our children, if only to buy you a good night’s sleep. I am reminded that I am truly blessed, that I may devote this earthly life to come into full realisation of the love of Christ for His church in our union.

It is my blessing to serve God alongside you.

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