Researching my trip, there is a repeated theme that Hong Kong is a mix of East and West, New and Old.
And so it is.
There wasn’t much sight-seeing on this trip, but what we saw offered this little picture. Tricia and I were walking around the fine arts center on the Kowloon side of Hong Kong where we walked past this galley style ship. As you can see, this is all about the experience of sailing on a traditional boat of ancestors long foretold. We stood on this part of the pier, people watching. Soon, we experienced this speedboat waltzing alongside the boat.
I couldn’t help notice the dynamic that is at the heart of Hong Kong. New and old, East and West. The new, nifty speedboat, the old, traditional transporter. Western efficiency and Eastern pensivity. All against the dark backdrop of a western-style metropolis in the shadow of the Chinese border.
Yet, somehow and mysteriously, for centuries, this region of the world has been mixing and mingling, more or less, in harmony. Forming strange cords of music that rings true to beauty.
It’s kind of mesmerizing, going into the stores, seeing Pocky and Doritos on the same shelf, as though nothing is wrong. And indeed, there isn’t.
The reason, I think, this effects me so is because (1) this is the Church and (2) this is me.
For one, the documents of the Second Vatican Council acknowledges again and again that, yes, the Catholic Church holds the Wholeness of Truth, Jesus Christ, who is named Truth. Yet, just because we have Truth, does not mean that we truly understand Truth. That Jesus is always surprising us, and challenging and encouraging us to get out of ourselves, destroy our pride, and see things in yet another light. Just because we hold Truth in our hands every time we go up to communion does not mean that we truly understand what we are holding. Thus, seeing East and West, New and Old mingle and mix is a wondrous sight to see—simply because we are challenging ourselves to see Christ in a new way.
Secondly, my parents immigrated from the Philippines back in in the seventies. Yet I was born in the United States. The only Tagalog I know is food products and cuss words (so basically, I’m fluent). When I was growing up in Central California, I had been surrounded by football, BBQ and the California cultural equivalent of Jim Crow Laws. Yet moving to another region of the US for Undergrad, I had encountered many other Asians doing the same thing as I: an eastern kid trying to do the western thing. Yet here is Hong Kong—doing the East-West mingle with grace, boldness and pretense. And succeeding. It’s inspiring, really.
And so it is with God. Yes, we are thigh-deep in tradition. We have our own calendar, we have our own way so doing things. Yet can our hearts be supple enough to accept the new and the strange, in order to discover a new face of our God?
Don’t know if I will return to Hong Kong. I hope I will, and I pray for the next opportunity. Yet the lessons learned from this trip is much more plentiful than these last few post. I thank you for your time and patience as I meditate upon these things.
And I thank you, Fr Mark, our provincial for permission to launch, as well as Fr. Steve our Prior and Fr. Michael our Pastor. To you, dear Tricia, thanks for allowing me to be your awkward sidekick. I’ll be your Huckleberry any day, thrice on Thursday. Perhaps another year of good behavior might–just might–credit me to another week in such a beautiful place. And to you, the many, many benefactors that make this sojourn happen.
God bless you, gentle reader.
Holy Father Dominic, pray for us!