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Spirituality of Imperfection

28-01-2016, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. Malaysia

The Seminar on Spirituality of Imperfection was timely for this group of participants who were so open to explore their own spiritual journey. The one-day seminar was conducted by Pia Attard who is currently working on her PhD in Spirituality at the University of Malta with her thesis on the Inner Transformation in the life and writings of Henri Nouwen.

Pia is currently working as a Marketing Executive with a Language Centre in Malta and was recently in Seoul for a business trip. Since there is a direct flight from Seoul to Kota Kinabalu, we took the opportunity to invite her for this seminar.

Henri Nouwen (1932 – 1996), a pastoral psychologist, is considered as one of the most prominent spiritual writers in the contemporary Christian world. The seminar explored Nouwen’s major concepts known as the ‘Spirituality of Imperfection’ from the point of interconnection between God – Self – Others.

71 people participated in the one-day seminar held the Sacred Heart Parish Centre. Pia began by introducing the history and writings of Henri Nouwen who grew up with parents who love unconditionally as well as expect achievement in life. His life journey was of him searching for ways to “earn love”, to coming to a place of “being loved”. The participants responded positively and were able to engage well with the flow of the input given. All were actively involved in the group sharing, pointing out issues in their own lives in relation with what was shared. Everyone was given the opportunity to share what had struck them, which included the writings of Henri Nouwen, a DVD of a session by Henri Nouwen and Pia’s personal testimony in relation to her spiritual journey.

Some comments received from the participants include Pia’s openness in sharing her struggles, even as one who frequently takes the front line. Seldom do we hear a lay person sharing about spirituality in daily language that is practical and relates to family and working life.

Our human story becomes the divine story – the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, when we allow ourselves to be out of control and let God take control of our imperfections. In surrendering to the power of God, our imperfections do not need to be the theme of our lives but a victorious story of hope. Our imperfection can coexist with the integration of our journey towards God.

Participants share their 2 points they are bringing home from the seminar:

Robert Cheong 

1. The spirituality of imperfection may represent our thought of being incomplete and defective. In the video clip, Nouwen emphasised that we are created in the image of God and are given the ability to love and receive love. Despite our imperfection, all is not lost. Life itself, after all is not perfect. There is still chance for correction. Thus there is still hope in our life. 

2. Nouwen said that we ought to forgive and should forgive others even if we were not in the wrong. It is to lift the burden from our shoulders, so as to give all parties peace of heart and peace of mind, consequently leading to a closure which would enable all to move on with their lives. I am touched by the sharing of the speaker, Pia Attard Yeon.

 Esterynna Sylvester

1. God's absence and presence. When we feel God is far or away from us, we experience his absence. But it doesn't mean that He is not present. This experience will also strengthen us in our journey to know God more. She also explained how this also happens in our relationship. For me, especially will be my role in my family, where I always felt that I need to be present all the time. But being present to point of being indispensable is not good. To be absent will also let others step up.

2. Perfect healing happens only in heaven. What I am going through is a process of healing which will allow me to be stronger and be a gift to others as well.

Aubrey Bidi

1. Spiritual journey of perfection is a journey through imperfection. When I embrace my incompleteness, brokenness, past and name my fears, only then God can make His reverse stories possible. I've learnt deeper on how to not be paralysed by my wounds or fears. I'm learning and giving opportunities for God to use my brokenness through His creativity. When I live out my CHOSEN and BLESSED life, only then my brokenness can be a GIFT to others! Just like how Henri Nouwen said, "What is most personal is most universal."

2. "I am hidden in God, and I have to find myself in that relationship." Our spiritual life is a gradual process of coming home. HOME is indeed in God. Our hearts will always grow restless until we find it's home which is in God! The dynamic of spirituality mirrors this, in which by moving from one paradigm to the other, only then transformation can happen! When we step back, create a space and give room for God to dwell, then He will reveal our true identity! The true identity of a BELOVED!

Noreen Ooi

Our brokenness if shared often becomes a gift to those who need healing too. When you empty yourself and reach that stage of complete helplessness and cry out to God, then you feel His love and mercy. Pia's description of the stained glass was so beautiful! I wish I wrote down every word.

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