Alpe Caugis

I started out into the dark at approximately three in the morning. All I can remember from the initial stage of my journey was the empty look of the windows, staring at me, judging me for my decision. I had decided to walk the earth, remembering the great testimonies of Abraham and Moses. I turned off the main road towards the mountain. I knew God was speaking to me in the alps of Italy, telling me things that were incredible yet terrifying. He gave me a calling, a desire to be a musician and as much as I do not gain my value from being one, that was to be my identity. But I was afraid, for good reason. I come from a society of logic, conformity and progress. Being a musician defied all of that. But how could I deny myself of being who God created me to be? Even if the entire universe were to disagree, mock, or in some extreme cases, kill me, how can I blaspheme God with my entire being? But I was still afraid. So I told God, I will walk the earth and you will sustain me, and give me confirmation as you did to Gideon. On thursday night, I decided I would set out the first thing the following morning. I made that decision even though I felt in my bones that I may not return. That night, I allowed fear to settle so deep in my heart and I knew that if I waited for daylight, I would change my mind. Hence, I found myself plunging recklessly into the dark at three in the morning. After awhile, I found myself standing at the foot of a mountain I had never climbed before. I knew I had to enter. The reason why I say enter instead of climb, is because the darkness and the mist that shrouded this silent giant made it seem like I was walking into, rather than up a mountain. My flashlight was of no use due to the fog and my heart was pounding so hard that I was sure any evil, flesh or spirit, could hear me. I took a deep breath and began walking into the mountain anyway. I shall not bore you with the details of the hours I spent climbing the mountain in the dark, but I should mention that it was filled with audible and repetitive prayers about the Lord being my fortress and the spirit within me being stronger than that in the world. But something interesting did happen on the way up the mountain. As I pounded on, ignoring the phantom noises around me, I saw a light in the distance. It was light coming from a naked bulb, so it made it such that all you could see was its glare. My heart gave a leap of hope - there was civilization and I could find a safe place to stay till the day breaks. But as I brisk walked toward the source, a voice in my head kept saying “like a moth to the light”. When I reached the first structure, I found a sign that read “bed and breakfast”. With those words, a wave of comfort swept over me as I noted that the sign was in english and not italian - this was a very rare thing in such a small town in Italy. But as I walked into the hamlet (or borgetta), I found myself beneath the bare bulb, surrounded by derelict, empty houses, very much like those in a ghost town in the movies. I noticed for the first time during that early morning, how exhausted I was from the few hours of walking. So in spite of the eerie nature of the place, I sat down beneath the bulb and drank some water. It was only after my adventure when I found out from a close friend, that the borgetta was in fact not a ghost town, but inhabited by three strange people. I figured I was fortunate enough not to meet any of them during my short intrusion. Two hours after my visit to the ghost town, light came. Although it was natural and gradual, the space of time between dark and light was stunningly short. All of a sudden, I found myself standing in a place surrounded by snowcapped mountains, smiling down at me as if to bid me welcome. The sheer beauty of the place mixed with the relief of surviving the night was overwhelming and I found myself bursting into song. The solitude made all my internal dialogue external and audible - there was no reason to be quiet or ashamed of what I had to say. After a quiet breakfast, I found the temperature began to drop and that I was a little light headed because of the altitude. So I thought it prudent to start a fire (which was a little of a challenge - what with all the icy dew on the ground) and set up my tent. I got into warmer clothes, did my devotion and made a feeble attempt at sleeping before I packed up and carried on with my journey. It was not too long before I was in the snow cap region of the mountain, staring confidently at its peak, screaming foolishly that I was now a man and this mountain was nothing but a hill. There were three summer houses, two were completely wrecked and one was fully furnished and well kept. I knew it was vacant because it was still the winter and no one would be crazy enough to stay up in the alps over the winter. I also found a sign that told me I was more than two kilometers above sea level and that the mountain had a name - Alpe Caugis. I was in high spirits and was actually beginning to have fun that day when I remembered the story of Jacob and how he wrestled with God to gain His blessing. I realized this was what I came for - to wrestle with God, to confront Him in an act of involuntary intimacy. He wanted me to be a musician, I needed to know He could and would take care of me - I needed peace of mind. So with a very different disposition, I began my hike towards the peak, constantly pleading, demanding and crying out to God for His blessing. The peak turned out to be a lot further than I had originally thought, partly because the road kept winding east and west up the mountain. There were two peaks on Alpe Caugis, but I only found out about this when I came back down the mountain and looked back. I knew that the road I was on would eventually lead to the western peak but there was no road to the eastern one. About an hour or so of trudging in the increasingly deepening snow, I came to a cliff on the eastern face of the mountain. There I met God. The passage in the bible where Moses saw the glory and splendor of God from a mountain side came to mind. It was as if I had been brought to a place where all skepticism and doubt had never existed, where all things old were made new and all things dead in my heart were now risen as Jesus had. The sun was still low, slightly above the horizon, so it was at eye level just a few meters away from the cliff. I could stare straight at it because there was a strong wind hitting the face of the cliff, pushing clouds up, like waves against the rocks. I was at a place of eternal energy, where the clouds were always dancing against the sun. Then, God spoke for the first time that morning. “I will bless you at the peak of this mountain.” “Not a problem” I thought. But as I turned away and took my first step, I found the snow was significantly deeper and I felt the first cold wet patch on my sock as the snow penetrated the barrier of my shoe. This was not good, I had only one pair of shoes and I still had to last the night. But I knew I had to keep going in spite of the logic of turning back. To make things more dramatic, a large cloud at that moment concealed the sun and the wind grew that much colder, every step seemed heavier and I was afraid because as beautiful and gracious God is, I also knew He is a God of terrible power and unwavering righteousness. But while I was mulling over my own thoughts, the cloud split at such an angle that a road of light formed perpendicular to the road made by man. It was a path that would lead me off the main road and up the steep side of the mountain on to the eastern peak (although I did not know this till later). I knew I had to do this, in spite of every bit of me telling me not to. There was nothing to it but to leave my bag and tent on the road and get on all fours and clamber up the mountain. This was when I found that the snow was not the actual ground but a layer above the ground supported by shrubs and low bushes. This made the climb difficult and slippery and before long, my shoes were soaked and I was out of breath. But I kept on, silently cursing my choice to follow the light and secretly swearing at God for putting me in this predicament. Out loud, I said, “My blessing had better be that I find gold at the top of this mountain and all my future financial problems had better dissolve.” But I felt an impression in my heart that I had to wait for the view on the other side. When I finally reached the top, I found that the view was completely obscured by dark clouds hovering below me. I was bitter and jaded, I had nothing to say to God. Then He spoke, “I bless you. I bless you with the knowledge and confidence that when called, you will answer, regardless of how ridiculous and dangerous the task may be.” “Thank you. You know, if you asked me to jump down this mountain, I think I would.” “You can now claim my next blessing. I will never ask you to jump down a mountain. That is a promise.” I smiled. “I also bless you, that you will never go hungry if you pursue music for my Kingdom.” Turned out I did get my gold in the end. I stayed up on the mountain for another half an hour before sliding down the mountain on my leather jacket. When I got back to the road and found my things, I realized that all these promises were already given to us - to all God’s children. We just had to take what we knew from the bible and carry it from our heads to our hearts. Climbing a mountain is much easier than that journey. This was when I made the potentially fatal mistake of looking up to the western cliff and remembering the gloating I had done earlier about how the mountain was nothing but a hill. So instead of heading down to a dry spot (which was an hour away at least from where I was) to dry my shoes and set up camp, I decided to conquer the mountain fully, being a man and all. I also noticed a small house at the very peak, it seemed to entice me all the more. After walking for about an hour and a half, I found the distance to the peak was a lot further than I had expected. Further more, I was exhausted, having hiked from three in the morning till then (it was noon) and having not slept at all the previous night. None the less, my pride was at stake. So I once again dropped my baggage, but this time out of pride and not humility. I had not gone very much farther when I found a sight that reminded me how much of a boy I always will be next to any mountain - a freshly passed avalanche. I realized that the mountain held more dangers than I would ever know. So, I verbally admitted that I could not conquer the mountain and turned around. But God had another lesson for me - He did it by showing me that the mountain could conquer me. Because I was now going down hill, it was such that snow would rush into my shoes with every step I took. I had never felt such cold against my skin before and I began to panic because I knew the nearest safe place to get my feet warm was the summer house, but that was hours away. There was nothing for it but to run. This made it worse and the added weight of my bag, when I claimed it from the road, aggravated the situation severely. I had a new prayer that I repeated out loud, “Did you not call the feet of those who brought good news beautiful? Have I not been doing that? Please keep it beautiful O’ Lord!” Soon I came to a point where I could see the summer house but was separated from it by a field of snow. My feet were no longer in any pain. It felt like they were gone and I was running on the stubs of my ankles. I knew that frost bite was coming soon. I took to the field running, keeping my eyes fixed on the house, terrified that my feet were already being claimed by the cold. My feet were crashing through the false flooring created by the snow and vegetation, very much like one would when he places his foot down on a step that is not really there. I ventured a quick glance down at my feet and found to my horror that my shoes were no longer there. I had been smashing my bare feet on the sharp rocks beneath the snow with detrimental force. All that went through my mind was simply, “well… My feet are broken.” I took two seconds to regain composure and decided to take advantage of the fact that my feet could feel no pain to turn back and retrieve my shoes. I did so in a moment and before I knew it, I was breaking in to the sheltered porch of the summer house where the owners stored their fire wood. Anxiously, I pulled off my socks and shoes to find that, save a few cuts and bruises, my feet were not broken. It took a fair while before my feet were warm enough and after donning a pair of thick wooly socks, I decided to set up camp in the shelter. Even though it did not do much against the cold, it served alright in keeping me out of the wind. It was about two thirty in the afternoon when I decided to have my lunch and quiet time. I knew I must not sleep or I would have to brave being awake for the entire night. Evening came pretty swiftly and I sat outside to watch the sun set behind the alps, I knew it was time to bundle up. I had no sleeping bag and my tent was made out of a single layer of canvas and although I was safe from the raging mountain winds that night, it was very cold. I woke up at two hour intervals and made feeble attempts to keep warm by either moving or simply pulling the blanket I brought closer to my body. Eventually, the sun did rise. I ventured out into the cold to find that all the water that surrounded me had turned to hard ice. I had been sleeping in temperatures that turned roof water into icicles and puddles into brittle, dull mirrors. In my wet shoes, I took a brief walk to the eastern side of the mountain to watch the sunrise. It was breath taking. Beyond a few mountains, lay flat lands that stretched beyond any horizon I could imagine. It was only then when I realized what the view must be like from the eastern peak on a clear day. I watched the sun break through a blurred distant horizon, casting long streaks of gold that ran across rivers and cities to finally touch my face. I whispered prayers of thanks giving for sustaining me through the night before heading back to pack my things. Above all things, I have seen the unfailing grace and providence of God in all aspects of the journey. I know he has called each and everyone of us to adventure in any number of shapes. Although we will never know His will in full, because His will is unpredictable, we can find solace and peace in His unchanging nature - our God is the same yesterday, today and forever. Unfortunately, we as children of God have a tendency to oppose this holy disposition with our lives - Our nature is inconsistent but our actions are so predictable. Being in the centre of God’s will is a dangerous place to be, because we do not worship a safe God and there are only two things consistent in life - there will be challenges and God will be there. My challenge to anyone who reads this story is not to climb and camp in the alps alone over night with a disturbing lack of equipment, but to embrace the fact that life in the hands of God is often madness. That was the gold I carried in my heart as I made my way back to the real world. The walk down was rather uneventful, other than the fact that my toe was at an early stage of infection. Eventually, I made it back to the hostel. I turned back to look up at the place where I met God, only to realize how foolish I was to have to climb all the way up there to meet an omni-present God.

Day dreams.

So I’ve been doing fire watches and various works around the ship now… I’ve had a lot of time to day dream about the future. It’s amazing, because when you day dream, you can be anyone. But it seems all alternate realities seem dull and childish compared to the one God has set out for me.

Wrote, recorded and learnt how to play the harmonica in 1 day…

The album The tree beyond the Fire will be for sale on band camp in a week…. If you like me, BUY IT!!! If you don’t like me, I use the force to change your mind…

Lead me off the weathered path

Take me to the place where crowds begin to pass

I can hear the river rushing on its way

But I’m not going anywhere until you’re here

I’ve had a dream about this place

Where broken wood came alive, my soul will turn to face

the trees were walking like people

this broken life begins to sing in second part

And you’ve painted the inner walls of my heart (x2)

Into the woods

Where you broke the frozen castles of my heart

And when you found there’s nothing left in me but sorrow

you said child, my arms are bigger than your throne

and on my face, your hand is warm

Our broken hearts amidst the grass

Reflecting grace like the dawn that’s breaking across against the glass

We’ve got to turn towards the light

It’s a dangerous place inside when you’re alone

into the woods

Timm’s quartet… Intro to my new album…

Yes.. this is a cover… done for a bit of fun…

Ok.. So here’s a little taste of the projects I’m working on..

This was recorded in north italy near the french border in the top left corner room of a large yellow building. All tracks were recorded using a single condenser mic, a broken guitar, a broken ukelele and make shift instruments.

I’m living with a bunch of amazing artists and we’re beginning to develop a sense of what it is to be artists in a fallen world. I’m going to create another tumblr page to post all the collaborations i have done here in an attempt to release it into the world.. If you like what you hear, wait for it… and be a part of it.

Cheers.. I’m tired, off to bed…

Just because…

I’ve updated my blog like what… 8 months ago or something? Well. Just for the heck, here’s a post.. I’ll put something more interesting when I have the time to actually sit down… I’m sitting now in my attic room/studio in Bobbio Pellice, Italy. I’m watching the alps colour up for spring and my breath is stolen every day by the scenery bleeding through my one window. I’ve been on the ship Logos Hope for about 1 and a half years, sharing a tiny cabin with three other amazing people. The solitude I’ve found here is… What I’ve needed…

I’m trying to create an album, another one, with a better strategy for marketing this time. But I’m not sure. I just like creating. That’s all. Well.. we’ll see..

Cheers! Off to the woods..

Me…

Three Birds

My mother had once told me to acquire a proper skill - something to have as a means of survival in this world. Thus far, I can make a pretty good paper bird.

Bird one:

 

I started with Indie rock blasting in my ears, walking with my head bent over a piece of white paper. I was, as Dave Matthews so eloquently sang, lying in the hands of God, as I strolled down the dusty streets of India. Whether by luck, natural inclination or the Holy Spirit Himself, I found the set of my first story was to be in the armenian church of St. George.

Bare-foot and awkward, I sat in the third pew from the front to finish my paper bird. Then, God spoke

"Are you humble enough?"

"Of course I am."

"That wasn’t very humble."

"I’ll prove it to you."

"How?"

"You decide."

"Get on your knees and lift your hands."

So I did. I hated it. It was embarrassing and felt stupid - everything I loathed doing in my religion. Fine… I was arrogant. Then God said,

"Want to see a miracle?"

"Of course."

"That paper bird."

"Yea?"

"Turn around and give it to the first person you see and tell him I love him."

"Crap."

The guy didn’t even speak my language. After several awkward misunderstandings, he finally accepted the bird and I managed to pluck up enough courage to whisper a quick ‘Jesus loves you’ into his ear.

As I walked away, I said,

"That wasn’t a miracle."

"Sure it was. I actually got you to do all that."

~o~

Bird two:

 

As I left the church, I tore another square of paper and began moulding it into another featherless fowl. Once again, I was too preoccupied with my fingers and the indie rock blasting in my ears to see where I was headed. But about three folds into the paper, I founds myself standing outside the gate of a classic house with a red tiled roof. It was beautiful. Then, God spoke,

"Go in."

"It’s someone’s house!"

"So?"

"What if it’s a Hill-Billie with a shot gun and a banjo?"

"You’re afraid of banjos?"

"No"

So I entered and stood in the courtyard, awkward and mildly terrified. As I continued folding the bird, and elderly woman in a blue sari came to the door.

"Yes? Looking for someone?"

"You speak english?"

"A little."

"Your house is beautiful."

"It’s very old."

"I like old things."

"Where are you from?"

"Singapore. But I’m now sailing with a ship."

"Huh…"

"I want to give you something."

"No. I don’t want anything. Goodbye."

I was alone again - wondering why someone in a poor country wouldn’t accept a free gift. Then God said,

"She’s like you."

"Stupid?"

"… and arrogant."

"That wasn’t a miracle."

"Not all miracles you will see."

So my second bird sat at the old woman’s porch with a silent prayer. I whispered out loud though no one heard - ‘Jesus loves you.’

~o~

Bird three:

 

A little way down the road, I had the last square of paper shaping in my fingers. I knew I had to go in but I was afraid. God loved the weary man in the church and the foolish old woman in the beautiful house. Where was God’s place in a whole-sale store?

"Go in but only give the bird at the very end."

So I went in with my unfinished bird to be met by an eloquent lady who was in the business of dealing with antiques. Inside, I saw crosses - catholic and protestant, buddhist statues and hindu gods. My conversation with the lady was long and intriguing. Here is the gist of it.

"You have a beautiful shop. Did you inherit it?"

"No. We rent, and I deal with people from all over India."

"Impressive. I like antiques and old architecture."

"Then you should visit Jew street in Fort Kochi."

"I’ve been there. Too touristy."

"Ah I see… Where are you from?"

"Singapore. But I’m now sailing with a ship that sells books."

"I know it! Out of curiosity, what kind of ship is it?"

"It’s a… christian ship."

"Hmmm… Christianity. It’s a good religion. We have many christians in south India after we were colonized."

"I’m sorry my religion had to spread in such an intrusive way. Are you christian?"

"I’m hindu. No, it’s ok. At least you have good values. Christians naturally want to evangelize."

"Well, I’m personally not too proud of that. It’s great to see people come to Christ, but I believe it should be by divine appointment and not human agenda."

At that point, I wondered how I was to carry on. I would have contradicted myself by telling her that Jesus loved her. Although I came into the store not by human agenda, but by divine appointment, and although every fibre in my body screamed against it, I found myself there to evangelize. She let me look around the store, which I appreciated for it gave me time to think. Then God said,

"Time to leave."

So I walked back to the desk where she sat to say goodbye. She said,

"how old are you boy? I can never tell with the chinese."

"Don’t worry. Neither can we. I’m twenty two."

"hmmm. About my son’s age. Strange. What brought you here?"

"I like old things."

"Strange. I was very discouraged because I thought none of the younger generation liked old things. My son just wants brand new things. I’m very happy to have met you. What is your name?"

"Daniel. I’m very happy to have met you too. There is beauty in new things as well as old… Anyway, before I leave, I have something for you."

And so, the last bird sat on the accounting books of the woman who dealt with old things. Silently I said, ‘Jesus loves you.’

As I left, God said,

"Well done."

"Well done? I couldn’t even tell her about you out of fear and arrogance. The last bird stood for nothing."

"No. Like the first two birds, the last now stands for you. And you stood for me. not by the words you said, but by simple obedience."

~o~

As I left the antique shop, I realized I did not quite know my way back. Furthermore, I did not have anymore paper to keep my mind off the noise and worry surrounding my understandably confused mind. As i put one foot in front of the other by faith, God said,

"Look at the weary man in the church as the people in this world who are placed to mould and test you, pushing you out of your comfort zone. Don’t be discouraged. Step out."

"Was he saved?"

"His story is My concern, not yours. Then, look at the old lady in the house as the people in the world who don’t accept the gift you bring. Even though it’s delivered right to their door. Do not be discouraged, deliver to them anyway."

"Was she saved?"

"Her story is My concern, not yours. Finally, look at the eloquent lady as the people in this world who know about me but do not believe even though I had touched their hearts. Don’t be discouraged, touch anyway."

"Was she saved?"

"… You really are stupid."

~o~

Then God encouraged me in this way to stop making birds and start making songs to reach the people. Hence, I made this album.

The End

Freedom

So I’m now in a souk somewhere in Qatar and we’ll be headed back to Dubai before having a nice long sail to Sri Lanka… 

So far, I’ve found God taking me through a relatively interesting journey.. I use ‘interesting’ because it goes against what I’ve perceived all my life as a journey with God… I must admit I’ve always had a rather pessimistic and detrimental view on the subject, but my recent experiences have proven that walking with Him does not mean that life will be hard, or harder in comparison to what life would be not. Instead, it’s a life full of peace and satisfaction.

It’s not fun or free in the sense the world seems to put it. the definition of freedom is not the void of obstacle, rules or boundaries as darkness is the void of light or silence the void of sound. Freedom’s the presence of something.. I’d like to say God.. but i haven’t had a revelation further than this yet.. :) all i know is.. Life’s beautiful and you’d be a damn fool even with all the degrees in the world not to live it right.. I’ve found it’s all about the search…