Monday, July 30, 2007

33 guests 3 p.m. on the eve of d 30th

Friday, July 27, 2007

Endings and Beginnings

Whenever I go on retreat, I get a glimpse of how God looks at what are "urgent" and "important." My spiritual directress led me to read Isaiah 55 again. I pondered on the words,

[8] For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, says the LORD.

I said to myself, How true! How absolutely true. I usually just think of my own little world and are thus concerned with my own little problems, including probably those in my immediate circle, but I have no idea about how answering my prayers would affect other people, and how God must consider other things more important and would like me to take those on instead of the trivial pursuits I always find myself in.

So there I was at the Cenacle Retreat House for my annual personal retreat, and I was at once captured by God's Word. I told Sr. Susay I was thirsting for God, and she said that was a grace given to me, and He would be there to welcome me and listen to me, no matter how mundane I might think my concerns were.

I went to the Upper Room, literally, for the new building had an additional prayer room at the 2nd floor. (Cenacle means the Upper Room where Jesus dined with His disciples, and where the latter, together with Mama Mary, experienced the power of the Holy Spirit during Pentecost.) I felt such love, waiting for me, and just for me, when I entered the room. I knew Jesus was indeed there to talk to me.

I told Him I was frightened, and when probed, I said it was because I might forget Him since I already had what I wanted. Strange creature that I was, with the answered prayer of a job that I liked, I was in danger of forgetting the Giver of the Gift. In fact, it was starting already - the busyness, the anxiety, the panic, and the stress.

If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand wither!
Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth,
if I do not remember you, if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy! (Ps 137:5-6)

Then I felt His compassion and mercy towards my frightened soul, which refreshed me. It was almost as if Jesus was smiling at me. Later that evening, we walked the labyrinth together, me pouring out to Him all the things I was saying goodbye to during that retreat. I found it harder to have closure on people, though, so I asked Him if I could stay in the middle for a while, dealing with the people I loved and could not let go of. He, who was Time, let me be. When I was ready, I took the same path outside the labyrinth, and looked at all the openings before me, and listed down the essentials that I did not want to lose sight of despite new beginnings and different venues in my journey.

There I saw my feelings, what I was excited about, what I was afraid of, and what I was still attached to. I knew I was moving towards certain virtues that seemed so hard to attain before, but was not fully there yet. In all those, I asked, as my SD told me to ask, How do I want Jesus to be there for me?

In between the sunset and the sunrise of my life, I asked that Jesus protect me from letting go of my highest joy - Him, and seeing Him face to face one day, and being with Him and the Father and the Holy Spirit in heaven someday. With all the concerns of this world, my highest joy had to be deeply carved in my heart. I asked Jesus to let me be in the world, but not of the world.

I had to ask myself, too, where my new job was in God's plan for me. Clearly, it was a step, though the end may not be in sight, CD Asia was a good place to learn, and grow, and share. I listed down how I intended to live, and how I would show my fidelity to my God, in this new beginning He had gifted me with.

The next day, my SD invited me to revisit the twin chapters of 1 Corinthians 12 and 13, asking how I was being challenged to see God in the workplace. As I was coming full circle, from graduating with a business degree, dabbling in law school and the mysteries of becoming a lawyer, and then accepting a marketing-, training-, and events-related job in a company whose products cater to lawyers, I had to be grounded, otherwise I could stand to lose the benefits of 14 years of a committed, personal relationship with Christ.

I was also coming full circle in the Ortigas-Pasig area. I first worked there as a fresh grad from law school in 1999, left in tears in 2000 after finding out I had to re-take the bar, then came back in 2001 armed with an "A-T-T-Y", then left again in 2002 to serve God more as a court attorney. Old hangouts such as Shangri-la Plaza still stood tall, but new ones came along like Podium. Old friends had since moved to other jobs, but new friends lived and worked nearby. I could really be at home there. It was one of many possibilities I recognized before me.

As I personalized my call to love - myself, my God, and others - my SD encouraged me to be more real, and not be just "proper", "right", and "good" all the time. In order for me to adapt, grow, and change as God wanted me to, I first had to be honest with Him. So I laid down everything, not holding back, and trusted He could work it all out for the good.

All my idealism was intact, but I was being invited to channel it to a new "nation", where I would learn to love and be loved, and not just to serve and be served, as I somehow tend to look at my relationships.

Behold, you shall call nations that you know not,
and nations that knew you not shall run to you,
because of the LORD your God, and of the Holy One of Israel,
for he has glorified you. (Isaiah 55:5)

My retreat started on Sunday, when the Gospel reading was about Jesus staying at Martha's house, and pointing out how Mary chose "the better part". I closed my retreat on a Tuesday, a busy working day. In fact, I had to attend a work-related round table discussion a few hours after my retreat. I definitely needed that break, to sit at Jesus' feet at the Upper Room, so that I could go about my tasks with joy and purpose. It was easy to do so within the confines of the retreat house, where my only duties were to pray and to journal. The challenges were all waiting the minute I left the gates of that sanctuary.

All I can say, since I don't know what lies ahead, is that I am not yet in heaven; neither am I a saint, but somehow, there is hope, that I am moving towards that, at my own pace, within God's time.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

A Prayer to Live Life More Fully

Obviously, today's featured writer is Joyce Rupp. Her poems helped me during my recently-concluded retreat. Words still escape me on how to describe what I've learned from there. Let me just share some helpful poem-prayers for those who are with me on this journey.

A Prayer to Live Life More Fully

We move so fast, God, and sometimes we see so little in our daily travels. Slow us down. Create in us a desire to pause. Help us to pursue moments of contemplation. Help us to see in a deeper way, to become more aware of what speaks to us of beauty and truth.

Our inner eye gets misty, clouded over, dulled. We need to see in a new way, to dust off our heart, to perceive what is truly of value and to find the deeper meaning in our lives.

All of our ordinary moments are means of entering into a more significant relationship with you, God. In the midst of those very common happenings, you are ready to speak your word of love to us, if only we will recognize your presence.

Teach us how to enjoy being. Encourage us to be present to the gifts that are ours. May we be more fully aware of what we see, taste, touch, hear, and smell. May this awareness of our senses sharpen our perception of our everyday treasures and lead us to greater joy and gratitude.

Grant us the courage to be our true selves. Help us to let go of being overly concerned about what others think of us or of how successful we are. May our inner freedom be strengthened and our delight in life be activated.

Life is meant to be celebrated, enjoyed, delighted in, and embraced in all its mystery. Guide us to our inner child. Draw us to your playground of creation, God of life, so that we will live more fully. AMEN.

Joyce Rupp, May I Have This Dance

Pictures and Words from My Retreat

A new road beckons
at my doorstep
a new stage in my life-journey . . .
Something in me
welcomes its promise:
the hope of bountiful blessings
of fresh perspectives
of old dreams . . .

Something in me
shrinks from it in timidity:
the swiftness of the passing years,
the challenge of what's ahead.

Something in me
fears the road ahead:
the unnamed events of future days,

the wisdom needed
to walk love well,
the demands of letting go,
of growing, and growing older . . .

The new road beckons.
With trembling hands
and faltering steps, I move
to open my heart's door to it.

My heart leaps with surprise,
for there, standing beside the road
God beckons with outstretched hand!

He smiles and gently asks me:
Shall we walk this road together?"

-- (adapted from Joyce Rupp)

This poem was given to me at the closing of my annual personal retreat. It reminded me of the previous description of my blog, which I wrote a couple of years ago:

I rode the train and thought I knew the destination. I was wrong. I got off at a station and realized I had overpacked my bags but left the essential things for my journey. I stood at the platform, lost and forced to wait. I thought that maybe that wasn't my real platform and my train was invisible to the naked eye. Then I saw a Man wearing a white seamless garment, walking towards me. He had kind, brown eyes that hid how long He had been waiting for me. I was Home.

The pictures of the mini-waterfalls at the Cenacle Retreat House were taken using my cellphone camera.

A Prayer in Times of Transition

A Prayer in Times of Transition

Guide of Weary Travelers, take my hand as I wander
Through the unnamed wilderness in search of my true Home.

Companion of Those Who Journey, assure me of your presence
While I search aimlessly in the foggy land of “don’t know.”

Source of Wisdom and Guidance, be the Star that leads me,
Shine truth onto my path and bless me with direction.

Wings of Shelter, embrace me with your comfort
When the road is lonely and life feels desolate.

Wellspring of Hope, be my source of courage,
My fountain of faith when I teeter toward despair.

Wind of Spiritual Liberation, enter and unleash any shackles
That bind and restrict me on the path of true freedom.

Heart of Compassion, taste my tears,
Heal my old wounds; rest my pain in your love.

Bounteous Power, dance in my bones,
Sing in my spirit, energize me toward action.

Endless Joy, infuse my wilting spirit
With radiant vitality and the sweet savoring of life.

-- Joyce Rupp, Out of the Ordinary

Friday, July 20, 2007

Reverse Awakening

If I were asked which part of the US I would like to go back to for a visit, Las Vegas would be at the bottom of my list. It was enough for me to see the lights the first time I was there, but it had no lasting attraction for me. There were lots of other places, however, like San Francisco, Sydney, and Bohol, that I would make any excuse just to see again. My own biases were obviously limiting me from seeing the diamond in the rough that is LV.

Just because it is known for gambling and instant weddings, among others, should not mean the place does not offer anything good. Surely, I should stop being judgmental and learn to loosen up a little. Things are not always what they seem. I'm looking forward to spending time with my best friends from high school who live near the hotel where I would be staying, and with my law school blockmate who would attend the seminar. Yes, I'm going to have a grand time in "sin city."

Today I realized that just because a building is occupied by rich people does not mean its chapel is not filled with faithful believers. I'm undergoing a reverse awakening. I didn't realize I had put people in neat little files in my head - those in outright mission work took higher precedence over those who were successful in the corporate world. But who's to say that one glorifies and serves God more than the other? Does not the church need sponsors in order to implement its projects? Don't missionaries live on donations from generous people? What comes to mind is the passage from Corinthians that says we are one body, with many parts, with Christ as the head of the church.

My heart is slowly finding peace (it has not arrived fully yet) in the assurance that God is with me even if I don't serve Him in a church/ mission/ charity setting. I love Him so much, I don't want to be consumed by anything - not good works, not noble deeds, not amazing feats - that would separate me from His presence. Thus, I was afraid of pursuing my dreams too much. Ironically, it is the religious people around me who are setting me free and assuring me that God wants that for me, for He planted those desires in my heart.

Just because I am back in the corporate labyrinth does not mean that I'm not doing God's work. The bigger reality is that there is a greater hunger for laborers out there. Inside the church building and its surrounding lay organizations, the bench is already deep.

This might make better sense after I go on retreat this weekend. I have so much to share, for He has done many wondrous things before my eyes, but haven't found the right words yet. I need space and silence for that.

To be continued...

Thursday, July 19, 2007

MCLE in Las Vegas

Why Take the MCLE in LV?
  • IBP members are required to take continuing legal education to ensure that throughout your career, no matter where you are in the world, you are kept abreast with Philippine law and jurisprudence and are able to maintain your good standing in the IBP.
  • This is a golden opportunity for you to avoid being listed as delinquent members of the IBP.
  • MCLE in LV has lecturers who are considered authorities in their own fields.
  • The subjects are useful and interesting to Filipino lawyers in the North American region.
  • This could also be a form of reunion with your peers and a venue for networking.
  • MCLE in LV facilitates the processing of the MCLE compliance requirements so your Certificates of Compliance are delivered to you afterwards.
  • This was organized by Ateneo Law School CCLER and CD Asia
Fee -US$550 for whole, 36-unit course, plus 10% MCLE fee

Hurry! Register Now and avail of 5% early bird discount until August 15

Seminar Fee includes seminar kit, processing and delivery of MCLE Certificates, snacks, and coffee

Date & Time: 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

on September 20-23, 2007

Venue: Palace Station Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada

Contact Information

Philippines -Adora

(+632) 634-3792

or 634-3793

USA -Beth

(+213) 487-8500

Monday, July 16, 2007

Like the Watchman Waits, I Wait

"Do... or do not. There is no 'try'." --Jedi Master Yoda, from "Empire Strikes Back", Episode V of Star Wars (my favorite episode)

I am tempted to say that I will try to do my best, to warn myself that I am close to being manic-depressive at work so that the level of intensity I show at the beginning could somehow wane and eventually sizzle once I get disengaged, whenever that is. I am tempted to wash my hands of how I will handle life from now on, to hide behind the lies "I was born this way" and "I can't help it."

But something in me, my conscience, perhaps, is insisting that deep down, I'm still searching for my place under the sun (my winning spiel during my interview in the first company I worked for) and all the stops in my search were not mistakes, but were part of the journey. There is a part of me that believes, and hopes, that better days lie ahead, where ability and passion would meet, and where I would find some sort of acceptance, or familiarity, or even recognition, that what I am doing is making sense.

Yes, for once, I want to make sense. Sure, I still believe in counter-culture and in being radical, as a Christian, a citizen, and a human being, but during my blazing days of relentless service, I felt the deafening silence of disbelief from all around me. I am tired of explaining and defending life and the choices I've made. There must be a way for justice and peace to kiss.

Stripped to the bare essentials, I am searching for God's plan for my life, and anything that does not lead me closer to that, I can let go of. I have let go of relationships, jobs, positions, and options, because of this crazy love for Jesus and the way of life He has taught. I have said goodbye to people I loved, dearly and wholeheartedly, because they were not part of the movements in my life, nor was I in theirs.

I am taking a new step in life bringing all that with me, but not heavily. I want to embrace a future of freedom to love and serve God the way my heart tells me to. I want to play music and write words and speak truths to glorify Him. I want to use the gifts and skills He has given me to hone my craft and make a difference. I want to be free to do these, and I will pay whatever it takes to achieve this dream.

If, for now, I have to wait, and endure, and save, and learn, and cope, and smile, and bear all things in my heart, then I pray for the grace to do these. Frustration, loneliness, disappointment, I've traveled all that and more.

I know a little better. I've grown a little wiser. No matter where I am, God will be there. He is not in just one place at a time, after all. Why, I think only He can understand this post, and it doesn't matter to me.

I write for Him. And I write for me.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Always the Ninang

In the photo are two of my goddaughters, Audrey Therese E. Mooney (first row, leftmost) and Ava Alexandra Maria G. Crisol (the tiniest one). This was taken this morning right after Ava's christening.

Also in the photo are the members of my barkada from Grade Four. Only John's child is not present. Even Martha's baby made his presence felt.

I grabbed this photo from Fr. Jboy's Multiply Site. He's the cousin of Anj, who is the wife of my grade school barkada Arvin.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Joseph the Forgiver

Here's a poignant picture of forgiveness from Genesis Chapter 45:
Joseph could no longer control himself in the presence of all his attendants, so he cried out, "Have everyone withdraw from me!" Thus no one else was about when he made himself known to his brothers.
But his sobs were so loud that the Egyptians heard him, and so the news reached Pharaoh's palace.
"I am Joseph," he said to his brothers. "Is my father still in good health?" But his brothers could give him no answer, so dumbfounded were they at him.
"Come closer to me," he told his brothers. When they had done so, he said: "I am your brother Joseph, whom you once sold into Egypt.
But now do not be distressed, and do not reproach yourselves for having sold me here. It was really for the sake of saving lives that God sent me here ahead of you.
This blogger further sayeth naught.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Now Playing: Waiting Game

You're probably beginning to think I have issues with waiting. You're probably right.

We had guests for dinner last night and they enjoyed the Magic Mic. Since I was busy playing hostess, I could not think of a song when my turn came. This morning, I realized this would have been a fun videoke song for the group.


I've spent too much time
Waiting for you in vain
I can't hear your voice
Although I call your name
I can't go on but I still
hang on just the same

I've spent endless nights
Crying your name out loud
But I still remain
Alone in an empty crowd
As time goes on I realize
you'll never change

I say a prayer
I count the hours
I hear a voice but it's not yours
I count the score
I can't go on playing the waiting game

If you should ever change your mind
I'll be there just call my name
Until then I'll be
playing the waiting game

I've waited too long
Wishing my life away
Convincing myself
Tomorrow you'd change your ways
I can't go on but I still
hang on just the same

I say a prayer
I count the hours
I hear a voice but it's not yours
I count the score
I can't go on playing the waiting game

All you left me was emptiness
Now everyday seems the same
You've gone but I'm still
playing the waiting game

If you should ever change your mind
I'll be there just call my name
Until then I'll be
playing the waiting game

I've waited too long for you
to change your ways
Playing the waiting game

All you left me was emptiness
Now everyday seems the same
You've gone but I'm still
playing the waiting game

If you should ever change your mind
I'll be there just call my name
Until then I'll be
playing the waiting game

Lyrics delivered by

Embraced by God

Know that I am with you;
I will protect you wherever you go,
and bring you back to this land.
I will never leave you until
I have done what I promised you." (Gen 28:15, NAB)
These words leaped out of my Bible this morning as I read them. They were to me an embrace from my heavenly Father. It was another assurance of His presence, His power, and His plan for my life.

There are times when I wonder if God is really concerned with me. I do not have the faith of the hemorrhaging woman in the Gospel today, faith which saved her from all her shame and pain after touching the tassel of his cloak. Like her, I have lingering ailments that have yet to be cured. I hope that when the opportunity comes, I would also grab it like she did, ignoring rituals and propriety, and thus be saved.

There was someone who disappointed me during my adult life that had affected my relationship with God more than I expected. She was instrumental in my early days as a renewed Christian, and yet when I started to mature, I noticed how vastly different our responses to God were. I had to look at God's promises from a new light and to find my faith on my own. It was a good growth experience for me, to be able to stick to what I believed and to move away from the shadow of somebody else's faith.

Now, when I think about God's promises, I check myself as to what those really are, and not try to second-guess him or to read between the lines too much. His ways are not my ways, after all. And His ways are always, 100%, better. I've fallen flat on my face countless times just because I assumed God meant something other than what I heard Him telling me during prayer. I'm learning to wait on Him. It's a process.

But to know that He's always with me, protecting me, and leading me to His promise, is wonderfully comforting at this point. Left on my own, I could waste my life on things that don't last and worship other "gods". There are so many dangers and pitfalls in the world, and I don't always recognize them. Having a God who won't let my foot slip and who is determined to see me through gives me confidence to walk.

That sounds like a faith statement. It may be pea-sized but hey, Jesus said it's enough to move mountains. I've seen some mountainous obstacles moved in my lifetime, so I keep going, one by one, step by step, until I see the Promised Land.

And it's not what I think it should be. It is what is meant to be.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Dinner-Dance at DAHHA

On the night of 7/7/07, Mama and I dressed up for a Dinner-Dance at the Don Antonio Heights Homeowners' Association (DAHHA) Clubhouse, which was held for the benefit of the Mission Center Building Project of St. Benedict's Parish.

Papa played sponsor, fashion critic, and photographer.

There was a huge check containing a huge donation for the Church, and the Parish Pastoral Council President, Dr. Naty del Rosario, was very happy to receive it, as shown in this photo where she held the check together with our parish priest Fr. Steve Tynan. Dr. Violy Salvador of DAHHA and LECCOM and Mrs. Peia Fausto of the council was also there.

Some members of Youth Alive were also dressed to the nines for the occasion. They arrived in pairs, walking like "Friends" during their second season.

We danced the rest of the night away. It turned out to be a fun night.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

APSE in Manila, er... QC

We have visitors at the parish. They are from Australia and are part of the Asia-Pacific School of Evangelisation. They are staying for three weeks. They've been to Manila, SM, two schools, and our parish already. They've gained weight in just four days.

Tita Ollie and Tito Don De Jesus set up a Filipino Food Night for them. They served lechon, itik, dinuguan, and mangga't bagoong, among others. The Australian youth gamely took on the Fear Factor challenge - that of eating balut, from the embryonic juice to the chick inside, which even we Filipinos refuse to eat sometimes.

This is our group picture - the Missionaries of God's Love in Manila, the delegates from APSE, and the Youth Alive Core Team.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Posh Anniversary

They're makulit, they're pasaway, and they're half my age. These are the POSH kids who are growing up before my eyes. They told me we first met on July 3, during the Life in the Spirit Seminar held at the then Our Lady of Fatima Sub-Parish, now the Parish of Saint Benedict. They listened to my talk and then were assigned to the sharing group the I handled together with Bro. Daniel.

Since then I have been involved in their assignments, crushes, graduations, birthdays, awards, rejections, learnings, and failures. They call me Ate and hang out with me but when it comes to service, they know I'm serious. They were a great help during the Youth Alive Summer Program, as they took charge of all the outdoor games during the picnic, sports fest, and food challenge. Well, they had the energy, so the Core Team tapped them.

Now, two of them are already working and they hardly have time to walk with me around U.P. campus. As we won't be seeing each other until Friday, when Australian visitors from the Asia-Pacific School of Evangelization would talk about World Youth Day Sydney '08 at the parish, I'll take this time to greet my kids. Maligayang Posh Ko.