By now we must have heard this said and seen this written in one form or other more than a few times: This has been a difficult and troubling year. And so it was and must have been. As such, let it be another fitting reminder of the impermanence of life and that all things, good and pleasant, or bad and evil, will and must end.
Let me wish everyone out there, wherever you are, good health, good luck and great happiness, and most important of all, that you will all stay safe and remain cheerful and hopeful for better times to come.
For us Catholics, we have just celebrated the fourth Sunday of Advent and are about to celebrate Christmas which ought to be the most important time of the year for everyone. Advent marks the beginning of another liturgical year; and Catholics traditionally mark the four Sundays in celebratory spirits and in prayers with their families and friends. This year, however, the first Sunday in Advent also marked the revival of more stringent social distancing requirements so that we could no longer celebrate Mass in public; and for as long as I can remember, we won’t be able to have Mass during the Christmas season, implying that there won’t be Mass on Christmas Eve or on Christmas Day itself.
Nevertheless, the physical conditions may help us reflect on the much more difficult situations in which the chosen people had found themselves, as revealed to us in the Scriptures and on which we are encouraged to mediate throughout the last four weeks as a preparation for the Christmas season and for a new liturgical year. In such spirits, I hope you have shared the good news of the coming of Christ, have remained vigilant for His arrival, have rejoiced in such anticipation and are now fully ready to receive our Lord and Saviour. Such my friends is what our Christian Faith is founded and it is such Hope that the Lord would be with us that in turn would enable us to fulfil our mission to love our fellow brothers and sisters as ourselves that would in turn make the world a better place in which to live.
Back to our mortal existence in 2020, we have spent almost the entire year within Hong Kong, and indeed indoor in our flat in Mei Foo most of the time. Su and I were away in Whistler and Yellowknife for three weeks between February and March; and that was that. Meetings and social gatherings were first postponed and that cancelled and we have been meeting friends in virtual meetings all the time. There were no occasions to put on our fine clothes or jewelries; and sometimes it was not even possible to exercise the muscles in our favourite gyms. We are blessed though to have a park and gardens downstairs where we can continue to stretch the limbs and refill the lungs with fresh air, which turn out to be a luxury. Most of our trips were dedicated to shopping for food and daily necessities; and in better times, we were able to go to our weekly Mass and sometimes for daily Mass. We have not been able to attend any dance classes, regular or private, with our Latin dance instructor since January.
Su has continued to refine on her culinary skills and has gone on to sampling and stocking up on fortified table wines, bubblies and single malts. I am happy to report also that I have spent the lockdown or lockup periods going through my past life so far and turned them into words. By early November, I have completed my first memoire in ten chapters comprising 160,000 words, including forewords from five very good friends. I have literally just completed the proofreading of the blueprint which I would put out to print tomorrow, so that the physical copies would be in the hands of families and friends in three weeks. The book would come with about 570 pages; and is not meant to be a commercial project, though I hope to be able to make modest donations to some charities if I manage to recover the cost and market most of the printed copies. We would see.
We are also happy to report that we have been well all the time and were able to sample the good food and wine prepared and organized by Su, sometimes with a few very good friends at our home in Mei Foo. We believe this is vital and will continue such practices until we are able to resume meetings between friends in more traditional manners.
With the Year of the Ox round the corner, we hope the strong corporal and mental spirit of the Ox would give us renewed strength and energies to meet the new challenges ahead and take Hong Kong to greater heights. In the meantime, I wish of all you a happy and mindful Winter Solstice; and I hope to talk to you again, sooner rather than later.