Friday, December 14, 2012

Awed by the UP College of Music's Handel's Messiah: A Christmas Concert

When I was still a student at the University of the Philippines, I heard about the annual free Christmas concert organized by the UP College of Music and the country's most award-winning choral groups.  It featured excerpts from Handel's Messiah.  Somehow, even though I studied there for eight years, and then moved with my family to a house just 15 minutes away from campus, I never got to watch this special show.  The opportunity never came up as December is always a busy time.

This year, another one of my good friends is leaving the country for good very soon, and he asked me if I knew of any "Christmassy" concerts we could go to, specifically mentioning "Handel's Messiah."  I Googled it and found out that the annual Christmas concert I had been missing was again to be staged this year, but for the first time it was going to be held at the University Theater, after the beloved Abelardo Hall simply could not accommodate anymore the increasing number of people who came to watch this show every year.  I noted the date and the magic words "FREE ADMISSION" and planned to go with my friend.

December descended upon me with birthdays and baptisms along with reunions and shopping, and I only had time to check the show's details the night before the concert.  I saw that I should have obtained control tickets to the concert.  Panic set in...

On the day of the concert, I assured my friend we could get in, and proceeded to one of my favorite buildings in my favorite campus, the UP College of Music.  I just loved going there and listening to the sounds of different instruments being played by earnest music students. In college, I took piano lessons at the Extension Program and was asked by my teacher if I wanted to pursue a Minor in Piano.  I looked at my life then, recognized the crossroads, and made a decision.  I thought I could not afford to practice four hours a day on top of my senior year in the School of Economics, so I said No.  Besides, I knew I wanted to become a lawyer.

So I was almost in tears when I learned that they had run out of tickets two days before.  I asked where I could buy them, even though they were for free.  I was advised to try the University Theater.  I walked to the next building and was referred to someone they referred to as "the Professor."  I explained to the Professor my predicament, that I had an Australian friend who was leaving, that I loved music and UP and had always wanted to watch this particular concert, that had I learned about the need for tickets I would have secured them weeks ago, etc.  Prof. Ruben Defeo, the Artistic Director of the University Theater, said he would try his best to get me some tickets, and advised me to come early.

After a day of errands and traffic jams, my friend and I met at the theater steps.  As soon as the doors were opened, I looked for the Professor.  He was there, in red, smiling like my own personal Santa Claus.  People were elbowing their way to the theater but he stood there, waiting.  He nodded when he saw me and asked how many tickets I needed.  He then produced two from his pocket.  I greeted him my warmest "Merry Christmas!" and waved the precious pieces of paper to my friend who finally believed in my charm and resourcefulness (I think he was ready to kill me if we had not been able to get seats.)

When the show started, I just said prayers of gratitude to Jesus, for letting me experience the gift of music.  There were no festive decorations, no garish lights and colorful trimmings.  The Professor turned out to be the one to give the Opening Remarks. On stage came performers of the highest caliber - the UP ARCO, UP Cherubim and Seraphim, UP Concert Chorus, UP Madrigal Singers, the UP Singing Ambassadors, and the magnificent soloists.  They sang to a packed theater, of Christ Jesus who had come, of the voice of one calling in the desert, of prophetic words from Isaiah and the Gospels.  Their golden voices lifted my spirits and planted a renewed hope in my heart.  I looked at my friend, and was grateful that he would carry the gift of the Filipino musicians in his heart wherever he went.

There were no dances, no speeches, no special effects. Words cannot describe how majestic the concert was, for me, sitting in the middle row, slightly leaning to the right because of the tall man in front of me.  I felt assured of God's PROMISE to all of us, of His faithfulness throughout the ages, of His constant love.  I saw how universal His love is, through words, through music. 

The orchestra and their conductor were the real stars of the show for me.  Prof. Edna Marcil M. Martinez skillfully guided the singers, the orchestra, and the audience in a symphony that could excite the saddest heart. After my addiction to the Nodame Cantabile anime and live action series, I had much more respect for orchestra members and conductors.  I saw their grueling practices and immense talents.  The University Orchestra played superbly to my amateur ears. 

After each choir and orchestra had played, part II of the concert came.  Handel's Messiah.  It drove me to the heights of worship, starting with the prophecies about Jesus, and exclaiming the glory of God who fulfilled His promises. The tenor, counter tenor, soprano and baritone all sang from the heart.  I had goosebumps when the grand choir sang "For unto us a child is born", and when they reached the Hallelujah chorus, the whole audience was up on its feet.

The concert ended with community singing of Filipino Christmas songs, which was like a duet between the grand choir and the audience.

What a memorable experience, one that prepared my heart even more for the coming Christmas season. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Today's Post is Brought to You by the Number 12

It is 12:03 a.m. on December 12, 2012.

It is a nice date, 12/12/12.  It feels complete.  Perfect. Not lacking in anything.

In the biblical sense, the number 12 is significant because it stands for:

12:  months per year, tribes of Israel, apostles of Jesus; human completion

That is according to a Catholic resource site that I consulted.

There are 12 months in our calendar.  We have all read about the 12 tribes of Israel.  We were made to memorize the names of the 12 apostles of Jesus.

We always buy a dozen eggs, all twelve of them.

At this time of the year, we sing about The Twelve Days of Christmas.  The famous song's real Catholic meaning is revealed in this article.

Another site is much more informative.  It says:

Twelve implies maturity or totality. there were Twelve Apostles, corresponding to the Twelve Tribes of Israel; and the Book of Revelation is filled with imagery built around this number. The heavenly Jerusalem will be twelve thousand furlongs on all sides, having twelve jeweled foundations, with twelve gates of twelve pearls. There are twelve fruits of the Holy Spirit.
I look forward to this day with faith, hope, and courage.  It is a very special date.  I am ready to be happily surprised.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Entering Advent

Wishing you a
Blessed Advent!
In these busy days before Christmas, take some time
to let the Season of Advent bring some light, hope, freedom and peace to you and your family. I have found this Praying Advent site very helpful. I share it hoping that you will, too.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Being a Good Steward

Today was another reminder how 24 hours never seem to be enough to one who has overbooked herself.  I have tried to do one task after another, but there has been no letting up.  I am exhausted, tired, and cranky already.

I remembered one reason why my day went haywire: I forgot to have my prayer time this morning.  I rarely forget anymore, after learning the habit since 1993.  Forgotten prayer times mean incoherent mornings and disorganized days.

When I finally sat down to quietly come before God, I was delighted to read the reflection from Sabbath today, written by Fr. Chito Dimaranan, SDB.  This is apt for me now as I juggle so many activities and struggle with my priorities:
Responsible people care even for things that are not their own, and even for stuff they would no longer benefit from. Responsible stewards go beyond what is expected of them and dedicate themselves to pursuits that would redound to the future generations. Reprehensible, instead, are those who worry about nothing else but amassing wealth for themselves.

Today’s liturgy would have us think beyond responsibility as far as stewardship is concerned. The Lord expects more. He wants us, His stewards, to be faithful and prudent, in addition to being responsible. Fidelity  and prudence in stewardship have to do with watchfulness and dedication to duty, even when no one is looking. It has to do with being about our business, even when there is no deadline to meet. And it means applying oneself to duty in view of the future, even if the future is uncertain.

Yes, I will go back to my tasks with love, thinking about what will benefit future generations.  I will be a good steward of my time and talents.  If only I had read this before I started this hectic day.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Lifting Weights

I used to go to the gym regularly (yes, back in the day) and at one point even hired a personal trainer.

I don't remember if I wrote about this already. The analogy hit me again today, about my secret life as a (light)weight lifter.

Sometime in 2008, I signed up for thirty sessions with the PT just so I'd have someone reminding me of my workout sessions, assisting me during warmup, and directing me during the actual calorie-burning chores.  She did a good job, for before that I had zero desire to sweat like a pig.

I was, as expected, a major complainer.  I kept asking for lesser repetitions.  I made faces when she made me take heavier dumbbells.  I felt unglamorous as I sweated while my cute little PT just looked fresh-faced, all the time.  If she were not so fragile-looking, I would have hated her.  I preferred the dance classes but I had to go to them outside of actual PT sessions, which meant I had to spend more time at the gym than my lifestyle permitted. 

After less than a year of hitting the gym, I started to feel pain on my elbows.  I mentioned it to my PT and she said that she noticed a change in me as well.  That was when she told me that I had actually gained strength and was already able to obey her almost effortlessly, until that time.  I didn't know that I was particularly strong, or that I had improved.

It turned out that I overexerted myself during a business trip to a national lawyers' conference, as I had to bring heavy luggage containing CD Asia materials, and this resulted to a minor injury.  I experienced pain whenever I tried to lift heavy objects.  I had to stop going to the gym (and forego my remaining prepaid sessions), and instead went to a physical therapist.

Now, my spiritual direction sessions are starting to feel like work.  I want to make faces at my SD when he assigns me to look more closely at certain situations and feelings that I tell him about.  He said I had to endure the discomfort so I could deal with my emotions and let them point me to what they mean.

I just hope that I am gaining strength even  if I do not see it. That I am lifting incrementally heavier weights with less sweat and aches.  And I hope that I do not overexert myself outside of my SD sessions so that I don't get injured again.

I can't stand another injury.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

New Stop in The Journey

The good news is, I have a new spiritual director. I researched his background after a friend recommended that I seek out this gifted priest. I knew he would be a helpful companion in my journey.

It took me six months to gather the courage to approach him, though. I tried the Filipino thing and asked common friends to endorse me, as if that was necessary.  Brothers and sisters kept telling me to just ask him if he would be my SD. How hard was that?

Turned out I was too scared and shy to ask for help, because I knew it was going to be difficult. I had accumulated baggage that needed sorting, and they were weighing me down.  They had become familiar, and I was reluctant to let go of my spiritual band-aids and deal with the festering wound underneath.  This was not a new revelation to me for I had previously entered this cycle of ignoring warnings and then dealing with snowballed problems.

Finally, one morning, as I was praying, I ran out of excuses. I needed to talk to someone, to be guided in looking at life in the eyes of faith once more. And I knew I could trust this priest with my innermost struggles.

He did not disappoint.  I was not as transparent as I used to be, so it took me a while to explain the predicaments that brought me to him.  I knew he understood me and got me when he said that I needed to be kinder to myself and not be harsh in judging my behavior. I told him how tired I was of pretending.  As he was probing, I did not feel rejected.  I felt accepted.

I saw the love of Jesus flowing through him, and said it out loud, that it took me years before getting a spiritual director again after the previous ones left the country because I thought nobody should worry about my little worries except myself.  And then, sitting there, I remembered:  Jesus cared.  He cared for my guilt, He cared for my happiness, He cared for my sacrifices, He cared for my healing.  I was running away, once more, from the Lord.  The very love I needed, I hid from.

Many times I do not get what I want.  But what I need, I always get, at the right time. God knew when and how to pursue me. This is a welcome rest for the weary.

Monday, October 01, 2012

I Am The Worrier

Wake up, wake up, wake up.  September has ended.  (Green Day must be having a party right now.)

In the Philippines, Christmas shopping has started.  Holiday decorations have started selling like hotcakes.  Balikbayan boxes have been shipped on their way home.

My family will have a reunion this December and I have trips to plan!  But no time for that now.

Time, and sleep.  If only I could have both.  These days they are both elusive.  I may have overbooked myself.  I may have bitten off more than I could chew.

I have a day job, and I teach. I am exhausted because I chose this schedule. I wish I cared less, but I don't.  I can't.  It's not in my nature.

Instead, I worry and am less productive because of it.

I know.

Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? (Luke 12:25, NIV) 

Knowing has never been my problem.  I know everything - how to lose weight.  How to clean my room.  How to be happy.  How to be productive.  How to be efficient.  I just don't do it.

Instead, I worry.

Time to change strategies.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Words and Music

Ugh. Major post-blog regret.  Oh, well.  Sorry for the hormone-induced drama last time.  I will try to tone down the diva in the future.

I am still here, waiting. Despondent; at times, desperate. I was inspired to write by Shakespeare tonight, and moved by the music of the Phantom of the Opera. Will such masterpieces move me to create my own?

Shakespeare I encountered through the movie "Anonymous", which should have a better title.  I am not a good student of history, so I cannot contest its plot.  But I once more saw the importance of Shakespeare's work and how it shaped the English language.  Words, coming from a man, remembered for centuries.  The pen is mightier than the sword indeed.

The Phantom, which I am not a fan of, I decided to listen to because everyone in Manila is talking about it.  I had seen it before, famously slept through it to the chagrin of my friend who had to pinch me and remind me that I was in Las Vegas and wasting my discounted ticket to one of the world's most beloved musicals. I was exhausted from working all week and did not particularly like the music.  I know.  I am weird.

Music.  I conducted choir practice the other night, and felt like a dismal failure.  I could not play the keyboards the way I wanted to.  Not anymore.  I had to do it for a good friend, though.  Last night, I visited another choir practice, but only as an observer.  I did not sing.  I did not teach a note.  I did not play the piano.  Being so detached, I did not seem to be myself anymore.

Much has changed, but I hope that I have not lost what had been given to me: the gift of words and the gift of music.  And if I have, that it is not too late for me to recover them.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

When Life Seems Like a Disaster Movie

There are times when I feel like I am the star of my own film; only it is a disaster movie and not a romantic comedy.

The rains, the floods, the traffic jams, the failures, the rejections, the losses, the misses - they all seem so real and so persistent. And God seems silent, probably busy with someone else's perfect life, where they have all the sunshine and laughter that are so absent in mine.

And nobody will rescue me.  I mean, no human being will physically throw a rope or carry me.  I have to figure out how to get away from the erupting volcano, the flowing lava, the enveloping tsunami.  I need super powers: invisibility, invincibility. I need to fly safely to a land flowing with milk and honey.

Maybe help was sent already, but I didn't see it.  I tried to wait and look.

I am waiting for another storm to pass. It is a bumpy ride right now. Closing my eyes won't help me out of my vertigo.  I need to open them and to look around me.

I need a better scriptwriter.  The old words do not stick anymore.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Prayers for the Philippines

As I write this, I'm playing hide-and-seek with our Internet connection.  A thunderstorm is raging outside, and there is massive flooding in the Philippines.

Continuous rains have caused landslides and floods the past two weeks.  Since yesterday, many have been stranded on rooftops waiting for rescue boats, while some were lucky enough to check in hotels as it was impossible to go home.  Classes and work have been suspended. Rescue and relief operations are ongoing.

But the rain. won't. let. up.

I woke up at 4 a.m. to the sound of torrential rain and knew that I needed to pray.  But instead of opening my daily reading guide, Bible, and reflection guide, I just whispered a silent prayer and proceeded to monitor the events on social media.

I spent the whole day retweeting information about the emergency, but I forgot one thing: my regular prayer time.  I fell asleep in the afternoon and dreamed that I was at mass, praying for my country.

So I woke up, fixed a snack for my parents, and went to mass.

I realized then that had I simply opened my Bible to the daily reading this morning, I would have worried less.  The Gospel was so apt, and so comforting, to a people who have strong faith amidst this storm:

GospelMatthew 14:22-36

22 And at once he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side while he sent the crowds away.
23 After sending the crowds away he went up into the hills by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone,
24 while the boat, by now some furlongs from land, was hard pressed by rough waves, for there was a head-wind.
25 In the fourth watch of the night he came towards them, walking on the sea,
26 and when the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified. 'It is a ghost,' they said, and cried out in fear.
27 But at once Jesus called out to them, saying, 'Courage! It's me! Don't be afraid.'
28 It was Peter who answered. 'Lord,' he said, 'if it is you, tell me to come to you across the water.'
29 Jesus said, 'Come.' Then Peter got out of the boat and started walking towards Jesus across the water,
30 but then noticing the wind, he took fright and began to sink. 'Lord,' he cried, 'save me!'
31 Jesus put out his hand at once and held him. 'You have so little faith,' he said, 'why did you doubt?'
32 And as they got into the boat the wind dropped.
33 The men in the boat bowed down before him and said, 'Truly, you are the Son of God.'
34 Having made the crossing, they came to land at Gennesaret.
35 When the local people recognised him they spread the news through the whole neighbourhood and took all that were sick to him,
36 begging him just to let them touch the fringe of his cloak. And all those who touched it were saved.
Please continue to pray for the Philippines, that those in need may get help, and those who can give do so with all their heart.

Thank you.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Life After Life Coaching

I did not know about life coaching until a good friend invited me to undergo it with him as he was still gaining experience in the field.  What a great blessing.

This happened on the month I finally started reading Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert, given by another friend last year, and right before I was gifted with The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin by yet another friend.  So I must have been going through something, for the people around me to not-so-subtly give me tools towards happiness in life.

I had no idea what to do on our first session, but I gave what I thought were my best answers. My life coach started with a series of questions that were so tough that I almost wanted to quit. He refused my press-release answers to my happiness level on every aspect of life.  He knew I was holding back, although I was not aware of it. He was very gentle, yet very firm. I actually wanted to hate him if he were not a very likable person.

He explained to me that simply put, he was there to help me identify my goals in life, work on the perceived obstacles, and achieve said goals. I thought it was going to be easy-peasy.  I had been writing my goals since childhood! But I was wrong.  I did not know how life-changing and perilous the road I had started was going to be.

We met regularly, and it helped give me a sense of accountability.  It was like having a personal trainer, a spiritual director, and a career mentor all in one package.  I have had all three before, so I thought I was the expert in submitting to authority.  But life-coaching was much more than the sum of its parts.  And the greatest thing was that I only had to pay for dinner!  Once I started Googling about life coaching, I realized I could never afford it, so I knew I was being given a gift.

Still, I was not sure if it was effective.  I went through the motions.  A lot of times I thought I got things wrong.  I learned to trust him more each session. He taught me exercises to blast away my overstaying beliefs about my skills and overall worth.  He made me write down my goals and then to rewrite them (and I hated repetition).  He made me see the distance between my perceptions about the things and people around me and what was reality (This.was.hard!).  He taught me to be detached from my emotions during stressful situations so I could focus on the tasks and hand, and not be pushed down into distress.  He said his goal was to make himself irrelevant.

The timing was impeccable.  Just when I had a life coach to lean to, two things happened to me that previous subscribers to my dramas could tell were my oldest stories - a complicated childhood relationship gone sour, and a professional insecurity brought about by a major setback when I was starting out my legal career. Probably, my life coach dealt me the truths that my friends had been saying all along, but it took this person who did not know me so well to show me the way out of the prisons in my mind.

And then I was free.  I saw how far I had moved on from that painful friendship I had carried with me for decades, and how I had so many friends who treated me better that more than made up for the damage to my self-image wrought by my personal Voldemort.

I also finally let go of The Bar Card, my failure story that I loved to use against other people, whether in my head or out loud, whenever they whined about their respective careers.  I thought I was the winner in the loser category.  My life coach helped me to see how much this was hindering me from becoming the best lawyer I was meant to be. I did not even realize how I had been using this Bar Card as a crutch when I was no longer injured.  I was, in fact, healed.

Life coaching in general is a secular concept, but I was doubly blessed because my life coach was a man of deep faith.  He understood my worldview since he had a similar one.  He seamlessly integrated my relationship with God into our sessions, so that my goals, dreams, fears, and perceptions were seen in the light of faith.

Each life coach has a different approach.  I am grateful that my life coach was perfectly suited to my background, personality, and vision. He has left the country now and so I am on my own. He may, as he is wont to do, follow me up once in a while, but our sessions have equipped me to change my views enough and step out in greater faith. 

You might see results of the more amazing in me in the posts to come. 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Facing Failure 101

I just had coffee with a good friend, one of those blessed creatures who had it all - looks, brains, and talents. He told me how his past week had been difficult because he felt that he was last at everything and that was why he threw himself a pity party. He said he had low moments and expressed this to God in prayer.

I had to ask him if he was serious in thinking that he was inferior in any way, because from my vantage point he had no right to complain. At all. But he was genuinely insecure; worse, he wanted to be perfect. He could not live with failure, however insignificant it seemed. He wanted it all.

Who was I to criticize him, when I myself had bouts of insecurity especially the past few weeks when my worth was tested in various ways? In fact I had been feeding off my friends' encouragements just so I could keep going. I had failed to see my own brilliance and awesomeness, as one friend put it. Instead, I focused on my weaknesses (for there were many).

Even we Christians do not find it easy to face failure. We may succeed at it some of the time, but there are always areas which cause us to become human, and so we suffer from the pains of rejection and look at ourselves as the sorriest of God's creatures. We pray for the day when we can win that game, or get that award, or succeed at that venture that we think would really make us happy and contented for the rest of our lives. We compare ourselves to our friends and think of how much more blessed they are. Pride and envy are so deeply entrenched in our hearts that it is so hard to live by faith. We are shackled by these fears and feelings.

I do not have a concrete answer to this; nor do I want to put a spiritual band-aid to what my friend and I are suffering from. We obviously both need to work on our faith and to focus on the Lord's strength rather than at our personal weaknesses.

I did try to look for a verse from Scripture that could address the topic of failure. And it led me to this:
If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all, how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things. (Romans 8:31)
It is a daily struggle to let my hope be bigger than my fears. It is something I want to grow more into this week.

I am comforted by this, one of my most favorite verses:
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1)
I will face this challenge with confidence, hope, assurance, and faith in a God whom I know is for me. He knows me. He has my best interests at heart. He has my future in His hands.

As for my friend, I know he will have better days ahead. He is a saintly man, actually, and this episode is but a part of his journey.

Facing failure or any difficulty becomes a whole lot easier with a good friend who is able to see the best version of me, in a fraction of the way God sees me. And I do the same for my friend. I can see now that God will graciously give my friend and me all the things that we need. We just have to put our faith in that.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Opening the Eyes of My Heart

As a young Christian, I somehow subconsciously believed that I was meant to underachieve, that it was my way of taking the focus away from myself and glorifying God. Hence, I failed to see myself as God created me. I saw as in a mirror: not clearly.

I was happy in my self-imposed ride with false humility. I genuinely believed that I was serving my fellowmen better by ignoring my personal issues, pushing them down until they could not be visible to the naked, unknowing eyes of the people around me.

It had been a long and arduous journey but here I am, more self-aware and also, more cognizant of the vast opportunities waiting for me, and more convinced that God wanted fullness of life for me.

I had leaders and mentors in my Christian walk who varied in their approach.  I did not blame them for they tried to teach me well.  It was my personal response that was blinded.  I saw only what I could see at that time, for my eyes had scales then.

I have become joyful again because I have discovered that it is possible to be healed, and that forgotten dreams are kept in storage in my Lord's heart, so that at the right time, He would show me how to realize them.

My cup overflows.  Hurts from ages past have made me stronger.

God wants me to be happy. What a strange concept that has been to me. I walk on with freedom and hope.

At the right time, I will blog about this in greater detail. Things are falling into place but are not yet final.

How about you, dear reader? Have you experienced brushing aside your issues and dreams as "costs of discipleship?"

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Joyous July

Hi. Welcome back to my blog.  You may have noticed that I have not been regularly blogging in a verrry long time. The list of reasons for this is quite long but I won't bore you with it. :)

This time, I'm back for good.

I'm loving the new Blogger layout and Google+ connection. Reminds me that it's no longer 2003, the year I started this blog. Next year is my 10th anniversary, and I hope to have a vibrant online presence (again) by then. So I have to start posting again!

I've changed my title because, well, the old one needed to retire. This is my version 2.0 and my way of writing about the new chapter in my life.

This blog resurrection was inspired by two things: my life-coaching sessions and the book, "The Happiness Project."  I highly recommend the  book and the sessions. They are both life-changing.

My birth month v. 2012 started today and brought with it a heavy downpour, as always.  That's swell.  During mass this morning, the deacon, one of my very good friends, blessed all the July birthday and anniversary celebrators.  When he saw me, he showered me with holy water.

I didn't mind looking drenched for the rest of the morning. I embraced the blessing. For God has given me so many reasons to be joyful this July.

Coming up this month are a Jane Austen book club meeting, a friend's piano concert, a Rock of Ages evening, a despedida and bienvenida dinner, and a trip to Bangkok with two of my best friends.

Along with work, teaching, and the rest of my colorful life, I am almost where my life coach said I could be: leading a balanced life.

Am I the only one struggling to juggle different things? What do you do to achieve work-life balance? Please feel free to post in the Comments section below.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Back to the Waiting Room

There was a waiting room that I entered a few months ago, and then I thought it was no longer mine.

Then I saw it again, and so I knocked. The door was opened. I walked in. And sat. And waited.

I did not know what I was waiting for.

Then somebody came, with a set of questions I must answer, before I could proceed to the next waiting room.

I have not given her my answers yet. It may be that I do not know the answers. I wanted to be given the key to the next room. Or at least the password. But this is what I got, and I should do my best to respond.

Paolo Coelho wrote that if you want something bad enough, the universe will conspire to give it to you.

I do not talk to the unknown universe, I talk to a personal God everyday. I asked Him for something specific. So whatever was given to me, I knew came from Him.

So I shall go forth with great courage.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A-S-H Wednesday

Today is Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of the Lenten season for Catholics.

My officefriends and I walked to the neighboring building to hear mass and receive the mark of the ashes on our foreheads. The priest encouraged us to think of A-S-H as:

A: Abstinence and Fasting
S: Self-denial
H: Hidenness in Prayer

It is a beautiful summary of what Jesus taught in today's Gospel reading:


Mt 6:1-6, 16-18

Jesus said to his disciples:
"Take care not to perform righteous deeds
in order that people may see them;
otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.
When you give alms,
do not blow a trumpet before you,
as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets
to win the praise of others.
Amen, I say to you,
they have received their reward.
But when you give alms,
do not let your left hand know what your right is doing,
so that your almsgiving may be secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

"When you pray,
do not be like the hypocrites,
who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners
so that others may see them.
Amen, I say to you,
they have received their reward.
But when you pray, go to your inner room,
close the door, and pray to your Father in secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

"When you fast,
do not look gloomy like the hypocrites.
They neglect their appearance,
so that they may appear to others to be fasting.
Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But when you fast,
anoint your head and wash your face,
so that you may not appear to be fasting,
except to your Father who is hidden.
And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you."

My prayer for you, dear friends, is that you may all draw closer to Jesus and find that grace is sufficient this season to be one in prayer with Him. May your fasting and almsgiving be fruitful.

I have listed some personal sacrifices this Lent. They will remain hidden in my journal. But if you want to share your Lenten sacrifice, just feel free to leave a comment and I will pray for you these 40 days, that you may fulfill your promise joyfully and wholeheartedly.