Contemplata aliis Tradere

A meagre contribution to the mission and work of the Order of Preachers: my reflections, thoughts, ideas and the occasional rant on matters mainly theological, philosophical and ecclesiastical, drawn primarily from my reading and experience of life and the world. Striving to be always Catholic, firmly Christian and essentially Dominican, flavoured with dashes of Von Balthasar.

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Location: Oxford, United Kingdom

A son of the English Province of the Order of Friars Preachers (Dominicans); born in Malaysia but have lived in the USA, Singapore, the UK & the Philippines for varying durations. A pilgrim and way-farer, a searcher for Truth on the journey of Life... "Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine, There’s always laughter and good red wine. At least I’ve always found it so. Benedicamus Domino!" - Hilaire Belloc

Saturday, July 23, 2005

A Tale of Two Rivers

The Singapore river is a hub of commercial activity and trendy bars, pubs and restaurants now line the riverbanks, occupying the premises of revamped warehouses. The riverbank is now shored up by granite and tourist tug-boats ply up and down between Boat Quay and Robinson Quay. It is quite typical of most re-vitalised water fronts in major cities; an efficient place for business and leisure.

If one were to cruise down the river, the sculpture shown at left may catch one's eye. It shows children jumping into the river. Although the Singapore river is not too polluted, such a scene is pure nostalgia, from a by-gone era. No one jumps into the river to cool off and play now, and even if one would wish too, I suspect it's illegal! It is a scene that contrasts starkly with the reality of the Singapore river today. The Central Business District which fronts the river is a world away from the idyll of that sculpture. One speaks of childhood innocence and play; the other of stress, work and hard-nosed business.

Something about that sculpture really appeals to me: it seems to harken to a more care-free time, when children had simple pleasures and delighted in play. It was a time where iPods, PSP2s and such paraphernalia were not necessary; fun was to be had in just playing with and in water... and the nearest river was the best place to do this. When I was a child, I remember going fishing for catfish in a river, playing with cousins and friends. I recall my school excursion to a national reserve park and our daily trips to the river there to play and splash around. It was idyllic and possessed a simple, rural charm. In a hot tropical country, there can be no better way to cool off than to jump into a body of water!

Here in the Philippines, children still delight in such simple pleasures. Only yesterday morning, I observed many children playing in the flood waters and jumping into the Navotas river (photo below). It is certainly polluted but the children have an amazing immunity! With abandon, they splash about and play, frolicking in the waters. And the sight brought me much joy - it reminded me of my care-free childhood, showed me that life still offers us simple pleasures that no amount of technological wizardry or money can match. For many, the floods here are an inconvenience and even a hazard but for these street children, it is a chance for play and fun. While the practical side in me wondered about their safety, I could not help but admire their abandon. Without a care in the world, they played in the river and the flood water for hours! Given the hard life many of these children have, it was wonderful for me to see that they were so happy and had this simple pleasure, at least. And it reminded me, that I should take the time to find joy in simple things too...


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