Sunday, August 29, 2004

My Place Under the Sun

This week I finally watched “Under the Tuscan Sun” and it came at a perfect time. Although it is more Tippy’s life story than mine, I picked up many pearls of wisdom along the movie and they have made me view my life from a much broader perspective. I got to watch it because I was on sick leave. I had to take another day off because I had a minor accident in our slippery bathroom, and had to take the doctor’s advice to rest my foot and to have it X-rayed. My boss did not take my absence well. She called me up on the cellphone, not hiding the disappointment in her voice that I could not come to work, and proceeded to discuss the case with me. Now, I’ve had a difficult month. I’ve had to make many adjustments just to balance going to the household for women, moving to Makati for two weeks, getting sick with a bad cold in the process, trying to hide my tiredness and sleeplessness from my boss, keeping in touch with my family, that I had gotten so used to making the most of difficult situations. On the phone with my boss I explained what the case was about, offered to have our helper go to the office to pickup the draft with her revisions, and offered to submit the final draft that afternoon. Without checking myself, I was willing to go the extra mile just to do my job well despite my unfortunate accident. She said that I did not have to do that and that she could ask the other lawyer in our office to write the revisions she wanted. I felt so guilty that Dinah, my friend and classmate from law school who had recently joined our office, had to do my job.

I put down the phone and before I could stop myself, felt heavy tears escaping from what seemed like my lungs and stomach. I went to my room and gave in to the tears of frustration and disappointment. I could not live with the fact that I disappointed her again. I asked God why I had to be so stupid as to hurt myself that day, when I already went on sick leave the week before, for a day, because of my colds and its complications, and for another day two weeks before that, because my stomach acted up after a week away from home. I looked at myself from my boss’ point of view and I just hated the feeling. I had just come from a two-week household which turned out to be much better than I expected. I wanted to make it up to work this week. I did not want to have to go on sick leave again. So why did this happen to me? I could not blame my boss at that point, because more than her, I was disappointed in myself. Yes, for losing my balance while taking a bath, because it was not part of my plan.

I prayed hard that morning, after my usual prayer time, and voiced out distress calls to the Lord. I asked Him if He could take me to the hospital without me having to arrange it. I asked Him to take care of me because I was helpless and not in any condition to take care of myself. A few minutes after that, my mother called. She had asked my brother’s driver to pick me up and then we would pass by for her at school. She would leave her students so she could take me to the ER. I told her I did not know which hospital my new MedServ (our office healthcard) card was accepted in, so I said I would get back to her in a while. I then asked my officemate to send the MedServ pamphlet with our helper Jane, whom I still asked to go to the office to pick up other cases I was working on. My text came after Jane had already left my office, so they were not able to give her the documents I needed to contact a hospital. What my officemates did was to contact MedServ directly. My officemate happened to have connections and she was able to pull some strings so that I got a surprise call from MedServ. That had never happened to me before – my experience with PhilamCare had been long queues in its clinic while waiting for my Letter of Appointment before I could be treated. The girl from MedServ asked me how I was doing and what happened to me. She then promised to get in touch with the ER of Capitol Med so I could be treated immediately. I did not have to go through the coordinator, she promised.

I was picked up by my kuya’s driver (who is our distant relative), then we picked up my mother from her school. Miko, one of my beloved nephews, went to school there too so I got to see him and got a hug and a kiss from him before going to the hospital. I was in pain but I could walk and was just eager to get the Xray over and done with so I could work with the files I asked Jane to pick up. Such was my guilt. Anyway at the hospital, we went to the ER where everyone was waiting for me. I approached the staff on duty and they said that MedServ called them already to attend to Atty. Del Rosario. They must have thought they were treating a hotshot, a boss in the company, because they thought my mother was the patient. I said I was the patient, so a nurse got my temperature; another nurse got my blood pressure, while a doctor interviewed me. Another attendant wrote down my med records, while another attendant pulled out a wheelchair and took me to the Xray room. I had never been on wheelchair before, but I was beyond protesting. I did not have to wait – so you must imagine how elated I was. Everyone was pleasant. My mother could not believe it, for we were given star treatment. I knew God was being lavish upon me so I told my mom to just smile as if what we were experiencing was the more natural thing in the world. After that, I was brought back, on wheelchair, to the ER staff. Another doctor came to interview me, and boy, was he one good-looking doctor. Tall, mestizo, boyish looks, no ring on his finger, but before I could project my cutest self, he was making me sign my release form. I wanted to act as if I was in pain, but I just ended up asking him when I could drive again. He said I only needed a day’s rest. I did not have to pay a single centavo for that star treatment. A prayer answered by a very lavish God. I treated Mama to pancit at Café Pilo across the hospital after that.

When I arrived home, I put “Under the Tuscan Sun” on DVD. The movie opened up the sleeping dreamer in me. Diane Lane’s character was a writer who learned about freedom. I started to recognize the message God was trying to convey to me. I thought I could put it off, though, because again it was not part of my plan to pursue my writing dreams or my concepts of freedom at this point in my life. I had tied myself down to responsibility and guilt, so much guilt, in my family, workplace, and service. The experience of God’s lavishness during my point of helplessness concretely reminded me, however, that I should not limit my God. It also made me realize that I could be happier without the guilt I always loved to bring upon myself.

I still had a time frame, though, so God also shook that. During last night’s prayer meeting, the first sense I received was a verse that was not consistent with the words being spoken by the first brother who prophesied. I put that verse aside until the Lord led me to another sense, which was clearly for the community last night. Before going to bed, I reviewed my first sense and I realized that it was for me, and it spoke about His blessings for me. Our prayer meeting leader/speaker/sharer talked about his year-long journey of waiting and fighting for his Kumon center. What struck me the most was something which he already said before in our Stepping FOURward anniversary worship, but which had more impact to me last night. He said that God always instructs as to “Go”, and in fact, it is when we want to stay that we need permission from Him. I still denied that God was asking me to “go”. I cannot define here yet what “go” means, it is still to be discovered in prayer and discernment, though I have many indications already. I felt that “going” now would affect so many people. Well I’m playing the greatest joke on God because I’m even attempting to plan my life after offering it to Him. :) Today, after a very long conversation with Shane, I realized that nothing was holding me back from going where my heart was longing to go and that I was free to pursue my dreams. The parable of the talents today spoke to me not in the language of burden and guilt, but in a way that exhorted me to continue pursuing my talents, for that would lead me to my heart’s true desire.

My family, my work, my service, my finances, past, present, and future, at this moment, appear to be in God’s able hands, where they truly belong. As they say, a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Today, I took a step. I shall share about it when the journey becomes clearer. For now, I am assured, by the books, people, talks, and senses I have around me that God is a generous God. He is not out to punish, or to judge, but He operates in the language of love, a lavish, unconditional, and abundant love. It took me thirty years to realize that. :)

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