“Do not be desirous of having things done quickly. Do not look at small advantages. Desire to have things done quickly prevents their being done thoroughly. Looking at small advantages prevents great affairs from being accomplished.” Confucius.
At the close of the sixth month in this new mission of Taiwan, these noble words of Confucius resound in our ears and hearts as true words of wisdom and inspiration. He lived between 551–479 BC, indeed many years ago, and yet many of his teachings and thoughts about life issues still have lots of relevance today.
Inspired by the above quote, I feel so encouraged to forge ahead in this new, interesting, attractive and yet challenging, confusing and unclear mission. Just as Confucius rightly states in his quote: “Do not be desirous of having things done quickly. Do not look at small advantages…” so are we learning to be patient and appreciative of daily experiences as they come, even though the fruits (the small advantages) are apparently not anywhere close to ripping.
In these six months we have actually learnt to appreciate the slow nature of a tortoise! We have learnt to simply listen and observe and leave the talking for “tomorrow”; we have come to appreciate Socrates’ noble expression “…the higher you go in academic ladder, the more you discover how stupid you are”; we have learnt to appreciate the difference and not to judge; we now agree with the famous African adage, “Hurry hurry has no blessings” and in the same vein conforming to the Confucian “Do not be desirous of having things done quickly. Do not look at small advantages…”
We want to thank the Lord for having been so good to us during this half a year in this new mission; for having availed to us very wonderful people. It’s actually so amazing how good these Taiwanese are! In our own evaluation, we do concur in the feeling that we really have a lot to learn from them: their kindness, politeness, industriousness, spirit of welcome, and their religiosity among others. Besides, the fact that we are in school for the Mandarin language, we are also in the wider school for the lessons of life with all these people around being indeed our teachers.
During these past sixth months there have been two main events worth mentioning:
1. ALLAMANO FEAST
As Consolata Missionaries, one of our most significant family feasts is the annual FOUNDER’S DAY (Blessed Joseph Allamano), celebrated in commemoration of the day of his death. (refer to my previous article on Bl. J. Allamano); that is, on the 16th February 1926. As a family, therefore, we traditionally celebrate this feast on a yearly basis with all the confreres working in every given region (country) getting together to mark this occasion in a family spirit.
Being new in this country and mission, this was going to be the very first time we were to celebrate this remarkable event. Big occasion as it may sound, the problem was that we had just arrived and so nobody really knew quite well who the Consolata Missionaries are and worse still, who our founder is. We wanted to break the ice with this celebration, at least to make ourselves known a little more than just our physical appearance. But how, To who and in which language…? I am sure you get the point.
God is good all the time! With the collaboration of our very understanding Bishop Lee, he accepted to preside over the Mass in honour of our Founder Bl. Joseph Allamano even if we were to be just him and us. Then we had the idea of making a public invitation to whoever would have wished to come for the Mass (in English – imagine!). The shocking thing is that this historical Founder’s Feast became so blessed with two bishops, four priests, one nun and a good number of Christians (especially the workers at the diocesan offices and from the parish community). We had such a lovely Eucharistic celebration and at the end, concluded by an invitation to a wonderful dinner by one of the Christians. Honestly speaking, God works in mysterious ways!
2. CHINESE NEW YEAR
Like I indicated earlier, we have really found ourselves in a school of life. Each day that passes we experience new things, some of which are no doubt strange, different and challenging while at the same time so interesting and enriching. I never imagined before of some parts of the world where people would have two NEW YEAR celebrations. It’s one thing to read it in written articles (which at times would sound just like a fairy story) and quite another to have to be part of the same socio-cultural dynamic.
Having enjoyed the New Year 2015 on the 1st January, I thought we were done and so back to business, although at the back of my mind I knew about the famous Chinese New Year, but thought it would be just a little celebration and then call it a day. Gosh! I was really wrong on this because the reality turned out to be the exact opposite. To be honest I really enjoyed this Chinese New Year celebration.
a) What is “Chinese New Year” also called “Chinese Spring Festival”?
The Chinese New Year also known as the Spring Festival has a history of more than 4,000 years. It is understood to have originated from a belief in deities that had to be sacrificed to every year. When the solar terms changed, dictating farming activities, especially at the end of a year, people would sacrifice to the deities and pray for a good harvest.
Chinese New Year celebrations traditionally run from Chinese New Year’s Eve, the last day of the last month of the Chinese calendar, to the Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the first month, making the festival the longest in the Chinese calendar. The first day of the New Year falls between January 21 and February 20.
The Chinese lunar calendar is associated with the Chinese zodiac, which has 12 animals signs: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, Rooster, dog, and pig. Legend has it that in ancient times, Buddha asked all the animals to meet him on Chinese New Year. Twelve came, and Buddha named a year after each one. He announced that the people born in each animal’s year would have some of that animal’s personality. Each animal represents a year in a 12-year cycle, beginning on Chinese New Year’s Day.
Chinese New Year is a time for families to be together. Wherever they are, people come home to celebrate the festival with their families. The New Year’s Eve dinner is called Reunion Dinner, and is believed to be the most important meal of the year. Big families – families of several generations sit around round tables and enjoy the food and time together.
b) Year of goat/sheep 2015
2015 is the Year of the Goat (Sheep) according to Chinese zodiac. The Year of the Goat starts from Feb. 19, 2015 (the Lunar New Year / Spring Festival of China) and lasts to Feb. 7, 2016.
Chinese: 羊 yang – (goat, or ram) is among the animals that people like most. It is gentle and calm. Since ancient times, people have learned to use its fleece to make writing brushes and skin to keep warm. The white cute creature often reminds people of beautiful things.
Now, if that does not “sound Greek” to you then you are definitely familiar with the Chinese worldview. We really got lost in the midst of all these new terminologies and symbolisms that at the end of the whole festival, we all remained amazed and tongue-tied. Every bit of it had meaning traceable from their very cultural and religious backgrounds that a foreigner would not easily understand unless you give yourself time to learn. This is where we go back to the Confucian expression: “Do not be desirous of having things done quickly…”
Once again we thank God for this little journey of six months in the new mission and ask for your continued support and prayer to keep moving ahead with this work of the Lord among these wonderful people of Taiwan!