Happiness, Forgiveness and Thankfulness

Yesterday was the third day of the Chinese New Year and traditionally not a day conducive to harmony, but as my priest Fr Robert Ng often said, as Christians we shouldn’t be obsessed with such matters. We slept late after a late party in a friend’s place at HKU and then prepared ourselves to visit Ko Ying. We normally went to his place on Lunar New Year Day, but for logistical reasons, had delayed it to yesterday. We ended up having whisky and red wine with some snacks. We were joined by Kenny who took us back to Mei Foo for more whisky and snacks.

Back to last Saturday which was the last day of the Year of the Tiger. I made a point of going for the morning Mass at Ricci Hall, for thanksgiving for an uneventful year. Fr Robert Ng referred to the scripture reading of the day, in which St Paul wrote to the Colossians about Christians being the elect of God, holy and beloved, should put on bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another. Robert also spoke of what St Paul always urged Christians to be always rejoiceful, always thankful and praying unceasingly. He also reminded the congregation that St Paul had written those words when he was in prison and therefore in circumstances not conducive to being joyful and thankful.

Still on the Happiness, a friend sent me some time ago a piece, in both English and Chinese, pertaining to the subject and ascribing the authorship to Pope Francis. I have no way of fact checking whether it was from the Pope, but it was a beautiful piece, so much so that I would like to share it with you as I had received it.

“You can have flaws, be anxious, and even be angry, but do not forget that your life is the greatest enterprise in the world. Only you can stop it from going bust. Many appreciate you, admire you and love you.

Remember that to be happy is not to have a sky without a storm, a road without accidents, work without fatigue, relationships without disappointments. To be happy is to find strength in forgiveness, hope in battles, security in the stage of fear, love in discord. It is not only to enjoy the smile, but also to reflect on the sadness. It is not only to celebrate the successes, but to learn lessons from the failures. It is not only to feel happy with the applause, but to be happy in anonymity. Being happy is not a fatality of destiny, but an achievement for those who can travel within themselves. To be happy is to stop feeling like a victim and become your destiny’s author.

It is to cross deserts, yet to be able to find an oasis in the depths of our soul. It is to thank God for every morning, for the miracle of life. Being happy is not being afraid of your own feelings. It’s to be able to talk about you. It is having the courage to hear a “no”. It is confidence in the face of criticism, even when unjustified. It is to kiss your children, pamper your parents, to live poetic moments with friends, even when they hurt us.

To be happy is to let live the creature that lives in each of us, free, joyful and simple. It is to have maturity to be able to say, “I made mistakes”.  It is to have the courage to say, “I am sorry”. It is to have the sensitivity to say, “I need you”. It is to have the ability to say, “I love you”.

May your life become a garden of opportunities for happiness …… That in spring may it be a lover of joy. In winter a lover of wisdom. And when you make a mistake, start all over again. For only then will you be in love with life. You will find that to be happy is not to have a perfect life. But use the tears to irrigate tolerance. Use your losses to train patience. Use your mistakes to sculptor serenity. Use pain to plaster pleasure. Use obstacles to open windows of intelligence. Never give up ……. Never give up on people who love you. Never give up on happiness, for life is an incredible show.”

I particularly like the last line, “Never give up on happiness, for life is an incredible Show”

Still on Fr Robert Ng, we went to Sunday Mass at Ricci Hall the next morning. It has been a while that the Lunar New Year Day fell on a Sunday, so that the Church has adopted different scripture readings; and in his homily, Robert used the Chinese character 福 to expound the readings, beginning with the traditional Chinese traditions based on the five cardinal blessings, namely longevity, opulence, healthiness, virtuousness, and a blissful end in life. It appears that both the Christian and traditional Chinese culture ascribe that blessings or blissfulness come from God.

Still on last Saturday, we went to Su’s parents’ place at Laguna City for a Year End dinner with her siblings and families. Her brother cooked and we brought wine, champagne and sweet dumplings. Dinner finished early; the siblings decided to make a trip to the flower market at Victoria Park; and we joined them, not having visited the place for a few years, and certainly not on CNY Eve. The Market was not crowded at all and we strolled along happily and with ease. Su suddenly got into her trader mood when she saw cut branches of peach blossom trees were selling at HK$60 a piece; and on the advice of her sister, she picked one and carried it on her shoulder all the way for the walk and later on MTR from Causeway Bay back to Mei Foo, reminding herself all the time that it was her first time buying peach blossom branches. Indeed, I can’t remember when I last bought one, which must be in the late Eighties or early Nineties when we used to stay in more spacious quarters. While walking with the branch on her shoulder, Su caught the attention of a film crew from Cable TV News and was interviewed, but the footage probably did not find favour with the editorial room, for Su was far too positive. But the important part of the story was that Su successfully installed the branch in a flask that had been lying on the shelf for 30 years if not longer, well before midnight on CNY Eve. And both of us were happy with the results. The stanzas from a famous poet of the Ming Dynasty Tang Yin (1470 – 1524) came to mind.


And that’s how we concluded the Year of the Tiger. Su learnt on the Second Day of the Year of the Rabbit that to keep the peach blossoms opening and alive, we needed to put wet cotton balls or swaps between the branches, which she did and has been doing that every day since. I would talk to you later on what we did on the First and Second Day of the Year of the Rabbit. Meanwhile, I wish you all a blissful and happy, and mindful and virtuous life.

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