Sunday, January 29, 2006
Spent a lazy Sunday afternoon with the Pasaway Kids (clockwise, from me): Adam, Gerry, Hyvy, Joseph (belated HBD!), Jobelle, and Patrick. Three graduating high school seniors, two college students, and an incoming junior in high school. Ka-berks ni Ella, as Marlon put it. Now I know why I loved the Greenwhich jingle a couple of years ago, "Sarap Ka-Greenwich" so much that the Lingkod sisters altered the lyrics to write an honoring song for me on my 30th birthday. I didn't know then that I'd have people I'd choose to hang out at Greenwich with.
They couldn't wait to get together after learning that I stepped foot on Barangay Holy Spirit again. It took me a while to get my affairs in order and set aside enough time for their energetic company. I hauled them to Greenwich (Ever Gotesco branch, coolness), a place where we could fondly remember our first outing last year at nearby Philcoa branch, when we still had with us the hyperactive Bro. Daniel.
I asked them about courses they would take in college and schools they applied at. They asked me about my trip and, more importantly, if I would still be single by year 2008 and if I could accompany them to World Youth Day in Sydney. "Ate Ella, ilang taon ka na ba? Kelan ka pa mag-aasawa?", they asked innocently. I don't remember how I got out of that one.
In between the cross-examination questions, we ate pizza and talked about the Greenwich crew member who had an interesting past with one of the kids. They giggled, pointed, whispered, and made the two young people blush with embarassment. It was great entertainment, actually. With them, I'm 18 again. It's amusing to attempt to answer all their questions about life, travel, Lingkod, faith, God, and Disneyland. Most of the time I just laughed with them and admitted my own inability to feign wisdom and success.
I'm quite sure these kids would achieve their dreams too, in God's time. They study hard, pursue their talents, serve at Church, and seek Jesus. Fr. Bryan will be in-charge of their formation now. They're all excited about Bible study. When I was their age, Bible study was the last thing on my mind!
We have an alternative name, aside from The Posh. FreMGLs. Friends of the MGLs. We could almost hear their laughter across the grounds at Don Enrique when they find out about that title. I took it from my past life, for when I was a member of the Organization of Business Economics Majors (OBEM), we had FrOBEMers, Friends of OBEM, meaning non- Business Econ majors who were active in the org's activities and were always doing time at the tambayan. We're non-Australians, non-priests, non-seminarians all, but friends we definitely are with those missionaries of God's love who serve at our chapels. I know there are several other FreMGLs in the country and the world. Ka-berks. Ka-Greenwich.
Saturday, January 28, 2006
I used to think that I favored those scenes as well, until recently. This week I discovered that I much preferred those scenes of waiting in the movies. I liked the uncertainty, the agony, and the discovery that the hero/heroine went through. This usually happens towards the end of the movie, right after a gut-wrenching, painful experience so consumes the character’s good spirits and she (let’s quit pretending that I can relate to the “he’s”) decides to stop feverishly pursuing her dream, whatever it was, and she goes back to the basics. She lets go.
You can imagine these scenes with me. In Runaway Bride, this happened when Julia Robert’s character thought she almost lost Richard Gere’s character, and so she concentrated on her passion – making odd-looking lamps and finally selling them – and exercised like crazy (she loved to run). That way, when her love found her in the end, she was already complete, accomplished, and fit, all by herself. It was in the space of waiting that she found who she really could be, without the demands brought about by wanting to please another person in her life. By then, the writers of the film thought she was ready to give and receive love like she had never done before.
In Love Affair and An Affair To Remember (my favorite chick flicks that my friend Saruman cannot stand), the period of waiting occurred while the star-crossed lovers spent six months apart, before and even after, the agreed-upon meeting at the top of the Empire State Building. She pursued her passion for music while he finally got a decent job and learned to earn money. They had no idea what the other person was going through during that time of distance, but they each tried to become the best that they could be.
These quiet, sad scenes always pave the way for a happier ending. In Bridget Jones’ Diary, after breaking up with a guy who cheated her (the incorrigible Hugh Grant), she lost the weight and did well in her job. She threw away the pathetic books that filled her nightstand, and purchased self-help books. She grew more comfortable with herself and thus was able to consider herself worthy of the love that was offered to her by the irresistible Colin Firth.
Those scenes in between the highlight of the films and their production-number, fireworks-inducing endings sent the message to the viewers that they had to start looking inwardly if they wanted change in their lives. War, sickness, loss, heartache or betrayal had not killed them yet and they had to find what it was that was worth living for. In some cases, the heroines got swept off their feet (Pretty Woman’s white limousine/carriage and long umbrella/sword is a good example), while in others, the characters simply moved on. The person or situation they were waiting for never came about, and the movie ended with them being forever changed by the waiting and content to be so changed.
I just might be in such a scene right now. This week has been a journey in picking up the pieces of what a tumultuous, but exciting, year 2005 brought me and concentrating on what I am really about as an individual. I have learned that letting go of music, writing, dance, reading, friends, cooking and other things I loved just because some dreams ended with a loud, hapless thug the past few years wasn’t healthy. And even though the work that I am in right now is still being defined, I have come to believe that work does not define me. In Fr. Jboy's words, Ella, if you're happy, stop being guilty.
So after the changes and leave-takings that are ongoing in this movie, and before any conclusions are reached as to the major areas in my life (career, mission, passion, family, and/or lack thereof), I am here, now, waiting. I am not in training, because that means there’s a defined agenda, a schedule, and a goal in mind. I have been through so much of that all my life. I have seen some triumphs and had my share of failures. Right now, I think what I'm called to do is to polish, get rid of, take up, and let go of.
Once again, I am busy waiting.
Monday, January 23, 2006
Ang mga Bakasyonista, shopping sa Stoneridge Mall.
We sat beside Santa's Magical Garden out of sheer exhaustion. We'd just been to Target at 5:30 a.m., Linens and Things, and then Gilroy Premium Outlets. We went home to rest before going to Stoneridge. That was on the biggest shopping day in the U.S., the day after thanksgiving.
Stoneridge reminded me of the Power Plant mall at Rockwell, the first one I revisited when I got back two weeks ago to Manila. Papa, Mama and Ella are now back to work. At night, however, we relive our trip by going over our photos, choosing which ones to have printed, and sometimes, by eating some of the chocolates we brought home.
Mostly, though, we keep a healthy diet, work hard on all the things that piled up while we were away, and refrain from shopping. That's how I know we're back to the real world.
Which reminds me, I have to go back to it. Enough of this reminiscing.
The sailor looked out to the sea, and I looked out with him, my eyes fixed on the Golden Gate. He was waiting for his ship, probably. Me, I was not waiting for anything. I was just there, enjoying the moment.
We visited the Bateman Physical Science Center, Arizona State University. We wore goggles. When in lab, do as the lab dorks do. And just like in Shrek 4D (California Adventure), Honey I Shrunk the Audience (Disneyland, or maybe Cal Ad too, I'm not sure anymore), and other shows we watched, we had to return the goggles when we stepped out of the laboratory.
Mel has moved out of this lab because she has a post-doc job at the University of California - San Francisco. We haven't visited her there yet. I have a visa, but not a ticket. Yet.
I remember Disneyland so well, and I would definitely want to go back there again. Even if just in Hong Kong.
Waiting for Jasmine and Aladdin -We stood in line behind a little girl who complained to Aladdin and Princess Jasmine that Captain Hook (not in photo) was scaring her. It took them forever to placate the weeping girl. Kids are an absolute priority at Disneyland. Castmembers always make time to listen to them. My impatient cousin just took a shot of us waiting in line, and then shepherded us to catch a show. It was the live musical Aladdin, I think, at nearby California Adventure.
Yes, it was Aladdin that we saw again on stage. The genie stole the show with his ad lib (To Aladdin - "I'm soo adding you to my friends at myspace!") Tito Ludi wore his USC jacket, as this was the day before their game vs. UCLA. People kept giving him the Trojan sign.
Definitely worth a visit again, this Disneyland, if I could smile like that once more.
I like the play of light and shadow in this picture taken at the fountain outside the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. The stone table was donated by the Jews, if I remember correctly. Far behind me was the gift shop where I bought most of my pasalubong for the Lingkod brothers and sisters, the MGLs and the Cenacle sisters.
Posing here with Tommy Trojan, the symbol of USC's (University of Southern California) fighting spirit, where most of my cousins studied and where my tito and tita work. They won a huge game against UCLA on our first weekend at L.A. I wore my lone USC shirt to show my support. Now back in Manila, I'm back to my U.P. shirts. All my siblings and sisters-in-law are from U.P. as well. But I don't remember us winning games that often. Just like me, my school is not into sports.
At the Chapel of St. Vibiana, below the new Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles. They used to have a Cathedral of St. Vibiana, now that old church will be preserved and reopened.
Retired Los Angeles City Architect Tito Ludi was the perfect tour guide at downtown L.A. We were treated to helpful trivia about all the architectural masterpieces we visited, including the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Because of the great LA weather, we were able to complete our tour on foot. That was unimaginable for the San Francisco and Grand Canyon legs of our trip.
After our sumptous Sunday brunch at the Chinese restaurant in Alhambra wherein we could not pronounce the names of what we ate, but by some miracle we were able to order what we wanted from the Chinese woman who did not speak English. From Left: Tito Ludi, Mama, Ella, Tita Fe, Ninang Lea and Papa.
We're still looking at snapshots from my happy thoughts (not just one happy thought to send me flying), this time taken at Old Town San Diego. It was like living in the past. I bought hand-made soap, Wisteria. Also, fresh chocolate mint. I just admired the old English tea sets. They were pretty to behold but I did not touch them because then they would have been considered sold!
Even if now I can't wear this jacket because of the heat where I live, in fact I left it with Mel in San Francisco, whenever I look at this picture I will remember where I was and how I was feeling at the time this was taken by Tito Ludi. We were at Rodeo Drive at Beverly Hills, and right behind me was the hotel where they shot "Pretty Woman". Like her, I couldn't shop at the stores around me. They were nice to look at, though.
Away from the cold weather where I felt warmth inside, I am in this very warm weather now with a ghastly cold freezing my insides.
I will think about good things, following the advice of St. Paul from Philippians 4:8.
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. (KJV)
Taken at Ate Joy and Kuya Edwin's beautiful house last December. Counter-clockwise from me: Papa, Ate Jean, Tyler, Justin, Jasmine, Ate Joy, Kuya Edwin, Kuya Ace, Tita Yoly, Tito Bing, and Mama. This was a very happy day. We watched Justin and Jasmine's play, Grease, where Justin played Danny phenomenally. Papa said he enjoyed it more than the grand production The Glory of Christmas because he was amazed at the little boy's singing, dancing and acting skills. Jasmine, a print ad model for Disney, among others, could sing beautifully as well. They might have taken after their actor/director/producer uncle, Ace Cruz, my cousin. The kids, especially Tyler, could play the piano quite well, too. That's what I call kapamilya. Hehe. I miss you guys. [Tita Lea, tell them I posted this, k? Thanks. See you soon.]
This therapy session worked. I'm actually feeling so much better already.
As I walked to church, I felt heaviness in my heart. Apparently I did not succeed in sleeping away that particular piece of news that I absorbed the night before. It demanded attention but I refused to give it air time. I felt it was not worth my precious time to dwell about.
Five minutes into the mass, however, I started to yearn for Jesus’ answers. I thought I had created an impenetrable wall around my heart against any pain, any memory, and any news that would threaten the promises of the coming year. I thought I heard Him say “Be on your way to healing” the day before, at the Oasis of Prayer in Tagaytay. I was excited, recharged, and full of hope for the near future.
So why was I letting old fears get to me again? Yeshua, are you listening? I’m sorry if I’m not as strong as I wanted to be. And right there in the middle of our sub-parish, I felt hot tears welling up inside me. The child in front of me started to stare. I tried the trick that Lysa taught me from her Viva acting class, to look up, wait til the tears go back to where they came from, look down again and smile.
During Consecration, I started to beg. Dear Lord, if this is your will for me, grant me the grace to handle this without bitterness. Remind me of how blessed I am truly. I reached a point of asking the Lord to take me now so I don’t have to face this twilight zone.
I lined up for communion. The choir started to sing:
Huwag Kang Mangamba
Fr. Manoling Francisco, SJ
Huwag kang mangamba, 'di ka nag-iisa
Sasamahan kita, saan man magpunta
Ika'y mahalaga sa 'King mga mata
Minamahal kita, minamahal kita
Tinawag kita sa 'yong pangalan
Ikaw ay Akin magpakailanman
Ako ang Panginoon mo at Diyos
Tapagligtas mo at Tagatubos
Sa tubig kita'y sasagipin
Sa apoy ililigtas man din
Ako ang Panginoon mo at Diyos
Tapagligtas mo at Tagatubos
Huwag kang mangamba, 'di ka nag-iisa
Sasamahan kita, saan man magpunta
Ika'y mahalaga sa 'King mga mata
Minamahal kita, minamahal kita
And just like that, I felt God speaking to me from Isaiah 43. The promise, I remembered, was not that I will have a perfect life, but that while I am in this dark world I will never be alone. My God will walk with me. He knows what I am going through.
I knelt down to quietly submit to His will, admitting that indeed God’s love is there despite this minor setback. Before the final blessing, Fr. Geoffrey invited those who wanted to be prayed over as Jesus’ disciples to come forward. I don't remember him doing that before in the years that I have known him. I was among the first to stand and I prayed for strength to follow Jesus despite the difficulties around me. When I looked behind me, almost the entire congregation was on its feet, waiting for the prayer, the blessing and the holy water that would give the grace to live with joy and hope.
I thanked Fr. Geoffrey for the prayer after mass and told him briefly what I was going through. He told me what I heard from Jesus earlier, “I know how it feels.”
There is nothing to talk about. It is enough to know that Someone knows and that His love is bigger than this. As the song goes, I shall not be afraid. The Lord is with me wherever I go. Even as I go through sadness, depression, and loneliness so early into the year and so soon after the vacation that brought me so much happiness.
C’est la vie.
Sunday, January 22, 2006
You’d think that somehow, after years of preparation, I would face this day with an armor of faith, an anchor of hope, and a balance of conviction.
I just came from a vacation. I just went to confession. I just devoted a Day of Prayer. And then it hit me, and I blinked. Bad news struck like a personalized thunderbolt. Where did this come from? Why didn’t I see it coming?
It had happened to me before, so I should be used to it by now. But knowledge of their seizures does not heal epileptics.
I should be strong. I should be calm. I should mask my feelings and be gracious.
And when I feel like climbing into a dark hole to wait for the sun to rise, I will just write. I am not allowed to be weak. I am not allowed to feel pain.
I have news for them: I do get hurt too. When I lose a friend over a fight for my principles, it kills me too. When I lose ten friends because I tried to do the right thing, in obedience and submission, I shed endless tears.
When I get my heart broken, or insulted, or ignored, it affects me, more than raindrops could drench my clothes and rust could eat away steel.
I am human. I work. I obey. I hope. To those who say leaders should not feel emotion, I ask you to feel yours. You could bleed to death too.
When I faced the sea I sent it your form;
When I stood on the mountain I lost sight of your eyes.
Alone, I have nothing to remember you from.
I am beginning to forget your voice.
As I walked in new doors, I whispered your name;
As I tried new flavors, I respected your choice.
And I drowned in the noise of a life not the same.
My memory is not yours; you exist in half-form,
I deny you live fully, how could you without me?
I’ll never know if you left here just as torn,
But of you, and of me, both of us should be free.
Tonight (when I can write the saddest lines)
Saturday, January 21, 2006
Ang alam ko lahat ng tito, tita, nanay, tatay, lolo, at lola, proud na proud sa kanilang mga pamangkin, anak, o apo. Nung baby pa yung unang pamangkin ko sa kapatid, si Luigi (8 years old, photo below), kahit anong gawin niya manghang-mangha kami.
"Wow, marunong na siyang mag-close-open ng mata. Advanced child yan."
"Mahusay kumanta ang baby! Gifted talaga!"
"Naka-memorize ng isang buong libro ni Winnie the Pooh. Promil Kid na ito."
Ganyan kami every weekend, panonoorin lang namin si Luigi sa crib niya, papakinggan kumanta, at pagmamasdan ang mga drawing niya.
Dalawa na ang pamangkin ko mula nung pinanganak si Miko (6 years old, photo above). Ibang klase naman itong si Miko. Kaya kaming paikutin lahat! Wa-is ang mokong. Palibhasa alam niyang cute siya, at laging pagbibigyan. Dinadaan kami sa pa-cute. Ayaw kumain, magpractice ng piano, magbasa, gusto puro laro. Pero lumalabas din ang talino at talento. At siyempre, gwapo! (Tita yata ito.)
Susubukan kong magsulat ng walang bias, kahit alam kong hindi kayo maniniwalang objective ako. Yung dalawang bata, magaling kumanta pareho, magaling mag-piano (kagila-gilalas ang mga kayang tugtugin ng maliliit nilang daliri - pang-recital kasi teacher si Lola), marunong mag-drums, mag-drawing, mag-painting, atbp. Pilipit ang dila mag-Pilipino kasi kakanuod ng Ingles na Cartoon Network at iba pang channels sa cable, pero mataas ang grades nila sa mga ibang subject.
Siyempre nag-aagawan kami kung kanino nagmana ng talino, talento at pagka-gwapo ang dalawang bugoy. Sumusulat sila ng libro (comic book form), si Luigi may original na kwento na, si Miko iginawa ako ng adaptation ng pelikulang "Ella Enchanted" na paborito naming dalawa. May original compositions din si Luigi - music ha! At kaya niyang isulat ang notation (mga nota - do re mi etc.). Mahaba pa ang listahan nito, pero itong huling kwentong ikukuwento ko, nagpatunay na may konting objectivity pag sinabi kong mahusay ang mga batang ito.
Nagpabili sila ng MindStorms Lego sa mga ninong at ninang nila (Kuya Ric at Ate Lani, sa tulong ni Mel). Itong Lego na ito, pang 12 years old and above daw. Si Luigi, 8 years old pa lang. May programming para makabuo ng Lego at may robotics involved, at nuknukan ng ka-high-tech-an ang laruan. Ni ako hindi ko maintindihan paano ginagawa. May program sa computer na ginagamit. Ibang level na ito! Programming at robotics! Nung bata ako, Fabuland lang ang Lego ko, may maliit na bahay at mga bulaklak na pinagdidikit-dikit ko lang.
Kanina dumalaw ako kay Luigi. Pinakita niya ang iba pang kaya niyang gawin sa Mindstorms Lego niya. Si Miko, di kasing-tiyaga magbuo ng kung anu-anong robot, gusto niya buo na ni Kuya tapos paglalaruan na lang nila. Kakamangha. Parang high school ang kausap ko pag nagpapaliwanag si Luigi ng Lego niya. Tapos, sa suggestion ni Miko, kinantahan nila ako ng duet, di ko maalala ang title pero may lyrics na "I Will Play With Jesus".
First Communion ni Luigi next week. Nakikisali si Miko sa mga catechesis at bagong kanta na inaaral ni Luigi. Sana bukod sa matalino at mahusay, maging mabait din ang mga batang ito paglaki. Yung gagamitin ang gifts nila para sa Diyos, para sa kapwa, para sa bayan. Yan ang dasal ko para kay Miko da Guwapo at Luigi da Pogi. Na sige na nga, malamang ay nagmana sa kanilang mga magulang.
Ako'y isang hamak na tita lamang. :)
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
Heto ang mga kasama ko sa Sea World last December: Tita Lea, Tito Jimmy, Tita Fe, Tito Ludi, Nestle, Papa, Mama, Tita Yoly at Tito Bing. Walang gustong sumama sa rides! 3 p.m. pa lang uwian na kami, dami kasing physical ailments, pati migraine ko umatake, at nagsundo pa ng anak si Nestle. Pero game sila sa photo sessions.
*Answer: Ako lang ang single! So what's new.
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
Time and again in my walk with the Lord I have alternated between resisting His love and accepting His pruning. Now, after having received so many blessings from Him, I have come back to ask what I should do now. I have changed, even just a little, because of all the new horizons that I pursued, new heights that I soared, new tastes that I acquired, and new decisions I have made. I’m not sure where to start, though.
To go back to life and to my old habits would be to invite the bursting of my old wineskin. I have been given a chance to start anew. After having a bird’s eye view of my world I am now back in it, and I have to remind myself of my realizations while on vacation in order not to fall into the same traps I’ve willingly walked into for several years now.
I am a new creation, yes, with a new heart and a new hope. Were I not physically taken away from all that was familiar and the things I panicked and obsessed about, I would not have seen how resistant I had been to just accept God’s love. To serve and to obey were my primary goals, but I had forgotten the greatest commandment to love.
I heard a new song over the weekend, it’s from a movie soundtrack and it says that “love is in my to-do list”.
I am back and yet not completely back. I am still unsure how to start over. So I take it one day at a time.
Be patient with me.
Taken beside the Pacific Ocean on November 26, 2006. We wanted to catch the sunset but spent too much time at Japantown in downtown San Francisco. When we reached the beach, it was freezing cold. I hid behind Papa's fleece jacket. I like this photo.
Sunday, January 15, 2006
Friday, January 13, 2006
At the core of my being is an identity
of which I hesitate to claim that I am worthy.
You have given me peace that I have disturbed
in the jungle of my heart,
in the tangle of my emotions,
in the pull of my temptations.
I give in
to the world from which you’ve called me
Unaware of how so blindly, willingly, I was already
Carried by the undertow. I stared, lost, at
the bright lights that dazzle,
false promises that unravel,
I walked right in to danger.
“Come to me”,
Your words leap out from memory.
Then I remembered that it was too easy, really;
That I was not especially shielded
from the habit of falling,
the tendency of losing,
the call of sinning.
After walking too far from shore,
Proud as Peter, thinking carelessly that I was strong,
I dare ask You now, as I have done before,
still this storm,
make me whole,
lead me home.
Ella del Rosario
January 13, 2006
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
It was freezing cold when this photo was taken, yet I felt warm inside, for God's magnificent creation was behind me. People are mesmerized by the beauty and immensity of the Grand Canyon. It brings even non-spiritual persons into a personal encounter with their Creator. It's even better when you're actually there to see it. Pictures don't give it justice. There aren't even sufficient words to describe it with. Once you've seen it, however, it creates an imprint in your heart. This picture is also my current wallpaper. It summarizes the vacation I've just had. It was grand.
Tuesday, January 10, 2006
Resolutions - small time. Decisions - big time. Resolutions - partial. Decisions - full.
This new year, I will venture to make decisions, and not just resolutions.
This new year, I will be... [the publishable part of my list follows]:
1. More grateful;
2. Less negative/anxious/stressed out;
3. More consistent, and not lead a double life (this in the not-so-distant past meant I was a Christian in the workplace, like a model Lingkod member, yet a Cruella de Vil while driving or being driven crazy by someone, and in many other situations);
4. More determined to seek spaces and places for prayer;
5. More serious, and brave, and hopeful, in pursuing the inner beatings of my heart;
6. Less of a pleaser;
7. More willing to accept - services, changes; waiting, leaving; etc.;
8. More open - to people and our failures, mistakes, imperfections and inconsistencies;
9. More active in the other aspects of life that I have neglected (details written on a separate page, back to back); and...
10. Easier, just a little bit easier, on life, on love, on living and loving, on living with and taking love from the people I love or used to love or still love but are not wholly sharing this coming year with for one reason or another.
1. Recycle all of last year's.
Monday, January 09, 2006
The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster,
Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.
Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.
I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three beloved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.
I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.
-- Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) a disaster.
This poem by Elizabeth Bishop was read by a dyslexic Cameron Diaz (oops, spoiler!) in the movie “In Her Shoes”, which I was able to watch twice during the 16-hour flight home. I liked the movie better the second time around because that was when I understood the characters more and felt their profound pain.
Small coincidence that I was feeling a little lost while watching that movie, as I actually lost a whole day – January 7, 2006 – as if I did not exist for that day or that day did not exist for me. I left the US January 6 then lost a day even though I flew for less than 24 hours. When I arrived, it was already January 8. It was the first time I experienced what seasoned travelers must be so used to by now. I didn’t like that experience. Seven happened to be my favorite number. I seemed to have lost an entire day- the seventh for the new year.
I have lost many other things through the years, too. During the flight home I remembered them all.
Cameron Diaz’ sister in the film is a lawyer who gave up her job in a hotshot firm in order to walk dogs for other people. Smile smile. When retired lawyers from her grandma's (played by Shirley McLaine) retirement home (or a place of assisted living, something like that, as recited by Cameron to her sister), asked her where she was connected, she simply replied that she was kind of on vacation. Wider smile. That’s a way of putting it! Grandma wouldn't like the long answer, after all, she had admitted that at the place where she lived they always needed grandkids to brag about. She couldn't brag about her dropout-lawyer of a grandchild, obviously.
Why the need to brag in the first place? It places undue pressure on the object of bragging. I'm sure the lawyer-turned-dog-walker had enough problems of her own to think about, and her grandma's deprivation of bragging rights, if taken to heart, could even bring her further down into depression.
I’m kind of on vacation. From lawyering. I gave that answer to several people to whom explaining the history my decision seemed to be too cumbersome and they all looked at me as if I were nuts. And yes, I’m still single po. I was asked why. Repeatedly. I could not give them simple answers to all those questions, because it might even take a lifetime before I could figure them out myself. Thank God for movies like “In Her Shoes” that don’t make sense. All I could do was smile in appreciation.
Now that I'm home, I hope I can have more space to quiet these negative pulls of emotion and realize that I have gained so much more than I have lost.
The art that is more difficult to master is the art of gratitude. A new year is everything they say it should be, as more than anything it is a time to make resolutions to improve our lives. Never mind that we’ve had practically the same resolutions since grade school. I believe what matters for us all is that we have this golden chance to start over. Otherwise, we could easily be lost and caught up in the keys, continents, and worse, loved ones that we habitually lose.
In my last few days of vacation, I was led to reflect on Mama Mary’s response to the overwhelming things around her. She pondered things in her heart. She kept all those things – people recognizing her Son for who He really was and paying Him the worship and respect that He was due. She must have drawn upon those wonderful memories when she lost her Son. She knew that she, and the entire world, was gaining so much more than what she was losing at the moment that she stood at the foot of the Cross.
Lord, I pray that I would also have the grace that you gave Mama Mary, to treasure things in my heart and remember what is of primary importance, so that when I tend to lose in my eyes and in the world’s eyes, I would not slip away into depression or hopelessness.
Maybe gratitude isn’t an art that we master, but a gift we could only receive by grace.
Saturday, January 07, 2006
I welcomed 2006 in San Francisco with little noise - just the countdown on TV and Papa's traditional 1812 Overture by Tchaikovsky (thanks Mel for the song on my Nano which blared over Rica's iHome, a thing that's on my perennial wish list now). The kids loved the poppers, the seniors enjoyed the champagne, and we girls just loved to hang. This new year is obviously God's gift that I'm seeing in a new light. More on this later. I'm going home to the Philippines in a matter of hours.
Friday, January 06, 2006
written by Henri Nouwen
Living the Moment to the Fullest
Patience is a hard discipline. It is not just waiting until something happens over which we have no control: the arrival of the bus, the end of the rain, the return of a friend, the resolution of a conflict. Patience is not a waiting passivity until someone else does something. Patience asks us to live the moment to the fullest, to be completely present to the moment, to taste the here and now, to be where we are. When we are impatient we try to get away from where we are. We behave as if the real thing will happen tomorrow, later and somewhere else. Let's be patient and trust that the treasure we look for is hidden in the ground on which we stand.