Ever since I learned the meaning for the above kanji (which is back in senior high school), I have come to claim it as my “Japanese name” (*cough*weaboo*cough*), seeing as I prefer to be called by my nickname, Cielo (which is “sky” in Spanish and Italian). The kanji reads as sora (or kū), the common translation for “sky”.
I do enjoy being associated with the sky. I had period in my life when I was all about astrology, so imagine my amusement when I learned that Libra is an air sign. I enjoyed fantasy anime that made use of elemental themes, and I would immediately zero in on the character that relates to the sky or the wind.
I have since grown out of that, and fast forward to November 8, 2016. I was walking around Ohori Park in Fukuoka, Japan with my brother and tita Yuko, and I saw the sora kanji under a parking sign.
I couldn’t make the connection at first, so I pointed to it, and asked tita Yuko, “Isn’t that, sora? For ‘sky’?”
“Ah yes,” she said. “But here, it means ’empty’. Like the parking has empty slots.”
Admittedly, that disturbed me a bit. The sky — the heavens — is such a dynamic and colorful thing, a canvas to hold the sun, the stars, the moon, the clouds, and anything that takes flight. In fact, the word for “airport” in Japanese contains the kanji: 空港, kūkō.
But that feeling was short, and I felt comfort in my heart. My name not only means “sky:, it also means “empty” —
Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.
— 2 Timothy 2:21, ESV (emphasis mine)
Graduating from college in 2008 was a major turning point in my life — probably more significant than working for the first time in 2004, and supplanted the thrill of having graduated from high school seven years prior. It was something that I wanted so bad, and I can still remember the sustained adrenaline I had just to finish all my requirements just so I can proudly say I am a college graduate. And once I was there in the college and university ceremonies in my white dress and sablay, and once I held my diploma in my hands, it felt like, yes. I have arrived. My hard work paid off. I made it.
After that, I thought that I didn’t have a problem answering the question, “What now?” But I was actually pushing it aside. I found myself with potential fillers — but not answers — to the “what now?” Every day following my graduation was a search for what could give me the same feeling of satisfaction as that day, and I frankly did not even know what I was looking for.
It came to a point where anything that came my way was taken for granted: scholarships, the ability to quickly secure a job thanks to my unique skills, and even people. Any achievement and opportunity that came after my graduation only became shoddy pedestals upon which I built my sense of entitlement. I had developed a false sense of security that I can do whatever I want whenever I want.
But if you had asked me of my purpose, I wouldn’t have been able to answer you. Because I didn’t know. Because I didn’t have one.
Fast forward to this year, I have come to realizations and confirmation that God is indeed at work in my life, and He is working hard. 2016 feels like a flashback to the things I wished I had done differently in the past ten years: the things I took for granted, the battles I ran away from, and the times when I had let my pride and ego prevail instead of love and humility.
I know better now, and God is with me.
The duality of the meaning behind 空 made me see that where I am now in my journey: as the skies are empty and yielded to the celestial bodies and the elements, so is my life surrendered to God to make into His masterpiece. I will mess up, still; but each mistake is a stone for me to step as I walk the path He set out for me. I may not still be able to name my purpose for myself right now, but I can say that I have the joy and peace that no matter what it is, God’s presence is heaven enough for me.