“Did you find it?” whispered Ah Kow. “No, but I know it must here around here somewhere”, Ah Lek whispered back. “Why are you whispering?” Ah Lian’s voice boomed across the room, “What are you guys up to?”
“Shh!” Ah Kow hushed her, “This is a library. In a library you are supposed to keep quiet or the librarian will scold you.” Ah Lian looked at them incredulously. “Hey guys, the Sow-lin monastery have no librarian. What are you guys doing here anyway? I know that you don’t like to read scrolls except those with funny pictures on them.”
“We are looking for a lost scroll” begins Ah Lek.
“The Lost Scroll of Sow-lin!” squeaked Ah Lian as she squeezed her large frame onto the bench between her two fellow disciples causing Ah Lek to slide over the edge and onto the floor. Ah Kow too stood up and move onto another bench as the bench he was sharing with Ah Lian began to emit ominous sounds. “Does it exist? I thought it was just a myth,” rattled on Ah Lian loudly, oblivious to the gestures of her fellow disciples to her to lower her voice. “Everyone has been looking for it for years. It is supposed to contain all the lost art of Sow-lin spirituality. Anyone who masters it will become a spiritual master instantly.”
“Instantly!” muttered Ah Kow thinking of their daily routine of endless hours of Bible study, prayers, meditations and chores around the monastery, “Cool!” “Like instant noodles,” commented Ah Lek whose conversations always revolve around food.
“Instant noodle no good” said the cook Ah Tong who had walked into the library unnoticed. “Good noodles take time to make. Cannot be instant. Like Sow-lin spirituality, no instant spiritual master. Must practice everyday.”
“But Uncle,” Ah Kow protested, “Abba Tai Kong taught about a secret formula that can force God gives you anything you want. And Amma Normah said that there is a certain event which you only have to believe and you will become perfect instantly. How come we cannot become instant spiritual masters?”
“Because sifu Abba Ah Beng teaches that spiritually maturity takes time. Takes patience and suffering,” said Ah Tong who has been secretly hiding behind the door and listening while the disciples’ have their daily lessons. “No short cut to spiritual growth.”
There was a short silence as this sinks in.
“What do you know? You are only a cook,” shouted Ah Kow. “The Lost Scroll will prove you wrong. It will teach us to be instant spiritual masters! I am tired of all the training. I want to be a master now!”
Ah Lian’s bench snapped as the seat broke and Ah Lian landed on the floor with a thump. Instantly all the disciples, the cook and the cat (who was under the table the whole time) covered their ears in preparation for a Richter scale 9 scream from Ah Lian.
Everyone looked at Ah Lian. Ah Lian was looking stunned. Everyone looked underneath Ah Lian. She was sitting on a thick scroll which was hidden in the seat of her bench and has cushioned her fall.
“We found it!” shouted Ah Kow excitedly, pushing Ah Lian aside, “Yes! We found it.”
“How do you know?”
“Look! It said so on the cover. ‘The Lost Scroll of Sow-lin: I was Lost but Now am Found’.”
“It also say ‘Confidential: Do Not Open’,” Ah Lek said reading the cover over his shoulder, “Do you think we should open it?”
“It does not apply to us, disciples of Sow-lin,” Ah Kow said as he unrolled the cover to read the next inscription on the next page: “this means you, Ah Kow” “Uh-ah” swallowed Ah Kow, and quickly turned the scroll.
“Hey look, it’s a note-scroll,” said Ah Lian who has recovered and is peering near-sightedly at the handwriting, “This handwriting is so familiar, like chicken scratching. Do you think it is in code?” “Let me see.” Ah Lek snatched the scroll and his face drained of colour as realization dawned. “It’s Abba Ah Beng’s handwriting!”
“What are doing with my scroll?” a steely voice sounded behind the disciples, the cook and the cat. “I purposely hid it until the time comes when you are ready to read it. It contains all the milestones of my spiritual journey. Each scroll page marks an important stage,” said Abba Ah Beng wistfully, “Some stages very painful, some joyful. This is my spiritual discipline of journaling God’s goodness.”
“Ah Lian sat on it. The bench broke. The scroll fell out…”stammered Ah Kow.
Abba Ah Beng sighed.
“I suppose it is time for you to read what is written here. It will not give you instant spiritual maturity, yes, I heard that. Nothing can help you grow spiritually instantly.
It takes time as you live everyday, one day at a time, with God. However, you can learn from others who are further along the journey.
“Here is what I want you to do. Read one scroll page per day and only one. Meditate upon it, and pray about it. Ask God to use it to teach you. Be open to what the Holy Spirit. I am sure it will be an amazing experience. Do it slowly. There is no need to rush. There is no such thing as instant discipleship. Spiritual growth takes place slowly. It will take the rest of your life.”