The Deserts of Dunhuang


The Gansu/Xinjiang border is the edge of the world.

Figuratively, of course. But when you’re there it feels plausible. Like when the sand and soil ends, the world ends too. Walk off and you’ll likely fall into infinity.

Although, the friendly owners of Dunhuang’s local guesthouse seem unfazed by the fact that they live so close to boundless space. They have kids and a dog and offered us dried red dates and coal-furnace hospitality in the middle of winter.

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Observations of a Sprinkler in The Sun


The colors ripple through droplets
Sending sparks of light through the air
Steam rose like linens blowing in the wind
A rainbow out of crystal.
Beauty came from nothing.
Alone the water nourished the grass,
But the light proved there is more.
We are not just vessels.
Let light shine through you, and others will see your beauty.

Shanghai’s Jade Buddha Temple


Housed in its own worship chamber and sitting in pristine silence is the Jade Buddha statue after which this temple is named. Enormous and impressive, you’ll have to experience it in all its transience: photos aren’t allowed. However, they are allowed in the temple’s spectacular inner courtyard and grounds.

Here are a few I took while visiting this colorful place:

You can find out about the Jade Buddha, the temple’s century-long history, and more here and here (Chinese).

You’ve Never Seen a Buddhist Temple like This


A Heart Sutra in the heart of Shanghai.

Shanghai can be a bit rough around the edges sometimes. I fully acknowledge this. Most locals would say the same when asked about the traffic, crowds, air quality, and surprisingly cold winter. The Shanghainese themselves can sometimes also be a bit rough around the edges (in a lovable sort of way) to faint-hearted Westerners. Get between a Shangher and their food and they will assuredly cut you in line, order, and pay before you even notice.

But really, the city and its people have a soft side. Which happens to be the same side that loves glittering gilded gold pagodas, towering ornate statues of Buddha, high-vaulted worship halls, impressive and expensive art exhibits, intricately carved wooden screen doors, and, of course, an ever-present assortment of merchandise.

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Essay, Vitae, Resume


Life isn’t your resume.

Floating around in the gray matter beneath my skull are 750+ shape-shifting Chinese characters, 350 lingering GRE words, a dozen grad school application statements and essays, two timezones, assorted emotions, mixed feelings, and a baffled sense of being.

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Gambling on an Experience


When I found the position with the ELCA as a global missionary I almost lost my breath in disbelief that such a job would exist.

The description was exactly what I had studied as an undergrad at CLU. The job was in one of my favorite countries I visited when I studied abroad with SAS. The organization was through a church that I am proud to be a part of. It was a dream job.

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The Unexpected Worth of the GRE


Being wrong is the sweetest stab in the back.

Just like the GRE, you’re right or you’re wrong. It’s no less tricky out here either — you never stop getting fooled. The only difference is that every moment is a new question. Every second is no second chance. Every step is another rectangular “Continue” button reminiscent of 90’s internet in the top right corner.

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