What Personal Vocation Looks Like: In Memory of Tay Lai Hock, Soul Sculptor, Who Bloomed Where He Was Planted.
These past few months have been filled with many spirit filled encounters and inspiring literature. Beginning with a friend Ann Yeong who shared a series of talks in our parish community about discovering one’s personal vocation, and the recommendation on the literature, Unrepeatable: Cultivating the Unique Calling of Every Person by Luke Burgis and his mentor Joshua Miller PhD. (Much similar to the relationship of Laina and I, when we wrote our book: Sustainable Impact: How Women Are Key To Ending Poverty, not forgetting our Co-author too Lizzy!)
Luke Burgis, an entrepreneur who thought he had a calling to the Priesthood but after being in the seminary, decided that God was not calling him to a life of priestly vocation. In fact, he recounts his journey in discovering his personal vocation as a laity, and the journey of life allows him the same path to holiness. His video series here introducing his book and his lessons learnt, is nothing short of inspiring, I highly recommend.
It brings to mind Brother Lai Hock, Founder of Ground up Initiative (GUI), who lived so fully. “I may not be a Millionaire, but I am a Billionaire in my heart.” It speaks volume about the person that he is, and the many lives he touched while he was fulfilling his personal mission on earth. His persistence to keep true the vision of the Kampung for Singaporeans to be rooted to the land, to have a space set in nature for soul sculpting and being, was really an embodiment of his personal vocation. The number of lives he’s touched, in small, big, profound and significant ways reminds me of how he was always so present, generous, and ready to listen. As the big brother he is to Gerald and I, we always felt his love when we were in his presence. Hundreds showed up in celebration of his life at the memorial and many recounted their memorable times they had with him.
The 5Gs: Gracious, Green, Giving, Grounded and Grateful, are the values that Lai Hock practised daily. They form the foundation for GUI’s 21st Century Kampung Culture. GUI stands for something much different, set apart for seekers who are keen on cultivating a happier, liveable and sustainable future.
Gerald and me were very fortunate to have Lai Hock present at our wedding back in 2016. And to have the privilege of having the veggies and roselle from the GUI farm to complete our luncheon for our guests.
As I scrolled through medium and was about to write this reflection post, I found this very video saved since 2015. After watching the video and being reminded of this hearty conversation with him, it brings much joy. PlayMoolah hosted the dialogue together with the National Youth Council at the Future of us, a dialogue around what sustainable living could look like in our individual choices in a busy city like Singapore.
Knowing that the lunch we were meaning to have this week will not happen anymore, I can only reminisce the conversations we had. It’s a sobering reminder to treasure each moment with those around us. The unknown time or hour that death will pass us by, may just mean it might be the very last time we see that friend or loved one.
At the same time, this beautiful song embodies the path ahead for us when we seek and embark on the journey of freedom, in search for our personal vocations, purpose, resonance, or calling as some might say.
And for me, the words that Lai Hock left me with at our last lunch together, is something I’m still pondering. He asked what type of impact I wanted to create in the world, small or big impact? It’s something I’m still sitting with.
An amazing thing I found, a big part of Lai Hock’s inspiration around GUI came from his 7 month stay in New Zealand. What synchronicity and at the same time, it’s funny how our worlds collide.
Blessed birthday brother Lai Hock.