HOMECOMING TO SINGAPORE

Sr Grace Lee

The free schedule of waking, eating, interaction with relatives and friends, helped to release my pent-up tensions. I enjoyed each day as it came. Above all, I felt good to keep my lonely sister company. I played cards with her in the evenings which she enjoyed tremendously. But Magdeline has also developed her own itinerary of life, keeping assiduously her own prayer life and doing a lot of spiritual reading. Her daily life is definitely not empty and void.

As I came away from life in my sister’s environment, I feel myself missing all those free times of searching for nice parks to exercise, walking along the embankments and finding surprises here and there. Sometimes I longed for some productivity, but on reflection I know these work patterns have been ingrained into my soul. Now the Lord has another kind of productivity for me.

As I prayed in the chapel and earnestly asked the Lord to show me his way, I realized that my productivity lies in the spirit and soul. The Lord wants me to come closer to him. I recall the words in the Gospel:

The Merlion-mythic symbol of Singapore

The Cathedral of the Good Shepherd

Our bookshop in Toa Payoh

“… store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes …” (Matthew 6:20)

I had been working in Hong Kong for the last 13 years. Previous to that I also did a 11-year stint. Altogether I had spent 24 years in HK.

One day, I was seized with an intense nostalgia for my homeland in Singapore. I kept saying to myself: I must go home, I have to leave Hong Kong. There was no evident reason for this sudden outburst of emotion. Up to now, I enjoyed living and working in HK. I liked the people and our community of four sisters. My work was pleasant and fulfilling. I couldn’t explain myself.

I wrote to the Superior General in Rome trying to explain my feelings and my nostalgia and my request to return to my homeland. She was very understanding and felt that at my age of 85 I had the right to return to where I came from. Hurriedly arranging the logistics for departure especially helped by Lilan, a wonderful Singaporean friend living in Hong Kong, I found myself arriving in Singapore on 1st September.

Since I had requested a month-long vacation to restore my exhausted body and soul, I immediately went to the home of my younger sister Magdeline who lives alone with a well-meaning lady companion and friend. Since the Covid pandemic prohibits socializing, I spent the month between eating meals in the coffee-shop, going for some exercises in the nearby park and praying in the church during their restricted opening hours

But as St Paul says, I want to do the good things but my sinful body does the opposite.(Note 1) How wretched I am, who will rescue me from this mortal body?(Note 2) But St Paul tells us to persevere and the person who endures to the end will be saved.(Note 3)

Therefore, every day I wake up glorifying God, praising his name, thanking him for his loving kindness and mercy to me, offering him all my sorrows and sufferings, and eagerly trying to do his holy will, with the help of his grace.

When I came to Singapore, I did not know what to expect. Many things happened to me were not what I had expected. But I learnt to

accept them all as coming from the good Lord for my own good. So I live each day as it comes, the wonderful surprises and the unexpected setbacks and illnesses. Each day the Lord sends me purifications for my soul so that I may become more the person he wants me to be.

I had not expected so many occasions for purification, but maybe time is running short, so the Lord has to hurry up to give me my full quota. Yes, I do smile at the Lord as I go along his way, but with my hand firmly in his strong hand, I can safely walk with him wherever he leads me. With John Henry Newman I can say: LEAD KINDLY LIGHT, AMID THE ENCIRCLING GLOOM; THE NIGHT IS DARK, AND I AM FAR FROM HOME, ONE STEP ENOUGH FOR ME.(Note 4)



Note 1 “For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it.” Romans 7:19

Note 2 “Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” Romans 7:24

Note 3 “For you need endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.” Hebrews 10:36

Note 4 "Lead, Kindly Light" is a hymn written in 1833 by John Henry Newman as a poem titled "the Pillar and the Cloud".

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