Friday, December 19, 2008

Advent Recollection Reflections

Trust Ella to turn a blessing into a struggle. Just a year and a half ago, I was praying for God to lead me to a workplace where I could serve Him with my skills and talents, and which provided a Christian setting so I would not have too much difficulty adjusting after a year and a half of full-time mission work.

God's answer, as I have shared before, was two-fold. He said, "Do not worry, I will not bring you back to the world." I was relieved, for I knew that in a corporate setting I could lose myself again and become what I had fought tooth and nail against, which was to be a corporate (law firm) slave. "You will know when the job is from me", the Lord added during my discernment period. I held on to His promise and so I gave up some offers that did not sit well with me, and waited.

To make a long story short I was led to CD Asia, my present company. I celebrated my first year as a full-time employee last November. It was time to evaluate myself. I saw where I needed to grow and pushed myself to do better on my second year.

I started preparing for my 2009 department plans in September, thinking it would ease my load for December, the scheduled time for presenting the plans to the Board. I wanted perfect plans gathered from perfect data with guaranteed perfect results.

Given all that so-called preparation, I still found myself cramming, and requiring my staff to work doubly hard, by the first week of December. I also had a good problem - the provincial employees were flown to Manila for the first time and I, as one of the proponents of that move, had to come up with a proper Training Program for them to make it worth their while.

In short, for this past week, I had department evaluation, report preparation, Board presentation, and staff instruction. Include one morning of Simbang Gabi sponsored by our zone in the parish, endless Christmas parties, gifts to wrap, humongous traffic, outreach programs, family and friends to think about, and the result is exhaustion. I lost my voice, felt hunger like I had never had before (no time to eat), ignored text messages, had no online presence, and prayed for the grace to survive the week.

I took some measures to ensure my physical and spiritual health. I tried to keep my regular prayer time. I kept my RDL appointments with my SD. I drank 1000mg of Vitamin C. And I slept every moment I could, which included those precious minutes while stuck in traffic in a taxi, no matter how dangerous that was. Sadly, I could not keep my gym schedule, so guess what's definitely in my new year's resolutions list - a reconciliation with my personal trainer!

This morning, I had to wrap gifts for some friends I would be seeing, and was late for work (as usual). As I left our house hurriedly to hail a taxi, I almost slipped. It was a very minor misstep, and I did not lose my balance at all, but it was enough for me to hear a voice telling me, "Slow down, Ella. What's your hurry?"

I paused in the middle of the street and answered back, "Lord, You know me so well. Give me responsibilities and I will deliver. I long to spend more time with You. Show me how to do that amidst my busyness. I am at a loss how!"

Good thing that our office activity for today was an Advent Recollection given by Lampstand Inspirations, a ministry ran by brothers and a sister from the Ligaya ng Panginoon community. My good friend Atty. Bobby Quitain was a speaker. I was pleased to see Mandy, Bogart, and Nerren too.

The Lord immediately used Bobby to capture my attention. He asked us all to slow down. I was struck at the lengths I had gone to supposedly do God's work - in the parish, in the office, in my family, with my friends - and yet I had diminishing time spent in silence, in rest, and in prayer.

It was a Spirit-filled recollection. We were of different religions, but the same God. All of a sudden, our small office pantry was transformed into a foretaste of heaven. People started laughing at the jokes. Then they fidgeted during meditation time. They rejoiced at the games. But point by point, video by video, Scripture verse by Scripture verse, the CD Asians slowly felt God's invitation to claim Heaven in our Hearts. It was a sight to behold.

God asked me to put down my official hat and to just be a daughter to Him. I needed to worship. I needed to sing. I needed to tell Him that I loved Him, that despite my many activities and worries, He was and will always be the Center of my life. That I long for Heaven as an ultimate destination and as a possibility here on earth.

So yes, I am glad that my officemates had a wonderful day of recollection, but I was even happier that I too was able to set aside my many concerns and to experience God in the workplace. I did not realize how much I was thirsting, longing, yearning, and hungering for God until I sang "Our Hearts Will Rise", "Heaven is My Home", "I Give You My Heart", and "How Great is Your Love" again today. What used to be weekly prayer meeting songs became cries from my very tired heart.

Don't get me wrong, I love my job (now), I love my company, and I love my responsibilities. They are blessings and I am grateful for them. Not every company has an official advent recollection, charity event, Sportsfest, teambuilding, and company raffle this year. It's just that they are not enough to satisfy the hole in my heart.

I have to accept this: that, as St. Augustine said, my heart will not rest until it rests on God alone. Since I am still not in heaven where I can see Him face to face, I have to seek the glimpses of heaven here on earth, and to embrace them as they come.

With an Advent like this, Christ's coming has more meaning. He is coming in my heart. :)

1 comment:

SearchingWellness said...

Oh the type A in you that creeps out by an assignment or responsibility. But, God is always right and we need to slow down and savor things. Nice post, els.