the moon and venus: a wink and a smile

“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,  what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?” Psalm 8:2-4

Filipinos catch a glimpse of Venus sitting on top of a crescent moon. Photo by Voltaire Domingo, NPPA

Filipinos catch a glimpse of Venus sitting on top of a crescent moon. Photo by Voltaire Domingo, NPPA at http://meme.yahoo.com/yphnewsroom/p/u79W4xP/

photo from http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=5909898&id=270180707533

Psalm 111:2-4

2 Great are the works of the LORD;
       they are pondered by all who delight in them.

 3 Glorious and majestic are his deeds,
       and his righteousness endures forever.

 4 He has caused his wonders to be remembered;
       the LORD is gracious and compassionate.”

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my guardian angel in disguise

 
“behold, I send an angel before you, to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place which I have prepared.  Give heed to him and hearken to his voice, do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgression; for my name is in him.”  Exodus 23: 20-21
  
my daughter megan, went through a most terrifying experience last friday as typhoon pepeng entered the Philippine area of responsibility.  this happened just barely a week after typhoon ondoy wrought havoc and devastation mostly in the nation’s capital and nearby provinces where laguna is strategically located.  what you’re about to read is just one among too many actual stories of suspense and horror, of  inspiration and hope,  from the kindness that is innate in every human being.  the kindness that shines brightest during the darkest of times.
the wrath of ondoy
the wrath of ondoy
 
in her facebook account, megan writes:
 
My guardian angel in disguise
Yesterday at 7:51pm
 
If you happened to see my Friday update, you would know about the traumatic experience I had that day.
I find it ironic in a way. I was excited to get home and log in to my ever-dearest social network, which is of course, Facebook, to blog about my exciting and crazy week.

Bottom line: The last part was tragic and definitely it’s not the perfect ending for a fun-filled week.

Good news is, nobody got hurt, I’m still alive and I can still do this right now.

I decided to go home early because of  Pepeng. On my way home, my parents called me because Mommy (my granny) already told them it was raining really hard in Balian. They asked me if I’m still in LB because if I am, I’d better not go home. But then I was on my home already at that moment, so they just told me to take care. The rain wasn’t pouring that hard until I reached Sta. Cruz. As I get closer to home, the rain poured harder and the floods were getting worse. I started to get nervous when we were in Lumban. I never experienced an actual flood, or even seen it. The wind was blowing so hard and it was starting to get dark. The floods had risen up to knee level in Kalayaan and the worst part was when we reached Longos.

flood caused by ondoy
flood caused by ondoy

Vehicles found it hard to move on with winds blowing and rains pouring harder and harder. Finally, the vehicles stopped when people shouted “Atras na! Atras na!” Of course! I started to panic, quietly. I was petrified! I couldn’t move! And then I had another phone call. It was my parents, they asked me where I was and then at that moment I started to cry. I tried to answer them, trying to hide that I was actually crying. On that very instance, it happened. A landslide, right before our very eyes. It was the first time I saw something like that. I know what I’ve seen on TV were worse but I couldn’t think straight! I couldn’t focus! Nanay kept on telling me on the phone: “Calm down. Don’t panic.” But then my phone battery would be depleted any sooner so I told them.

 
I know that the young man in front of me kept on watching me as I tried to hide I was crying. But I also kept on ignoring him. Maximum tolerance, I suppose. People inside the jeep started to make phone calls. “May landslide!”… “Stranded kami dito sa Longos.” The two of us seemed to be the only people who were quiet at that time. But I can’t help it. I just kept on crying. The sight of those dreadful incidents: Landslides, one at the time… People trying to get out of their vehicles, people trying to get out-of-the-way, people trying to warn the others. I was so afraid.

 

But this young man in front of me, kept on watching me. As we waited inside, several thoughts kept running through my mind. Worst-case scenario: I wrote down contact numbers, Mommy’s and Tita Avit’s, my parents’ so if we’d spend the night, I could borrow a phone to tell them I’m alright. And then I was able to appreciate my carefree weekend nights, how I would go downstairs just to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner. I was lucky enough to experience all that. But how about the people who suffered because of typhoon Ondoy? How about even those people who experience this every single day?

When there seemed to be no landslide to occur anymore, people tried to decide whether they should walk their way through it, because vehicles couldn’t move on anymore. Without further discussions, they started to empty the jeepney. The only ones who were left was me and this strange young man. I still was crying! “What am I an idiot? I’m not getting out!,” I said to myself. I’m scared of falling debris. I’m scared there might be another one. I couldn’t get out. But then, his presence made me feel that I should get out. He asked me “Hindi ka ba lulusong?” I stared at him. My face was blank. I was crying really hard. But then he said, “Wala kasi akong dalang payong eh.” I was holding mine at that time. Without thinking, I answered “Sige po.”

chest-deep flood
chest-deep flood
We immediately got out of the jeepney and with the sight of the tragedy, I grabbed his arm. I was scared as hell. What a catastrophe. We walked through everything along with the others who were stranded. He tried to make me calm by starting a very casual conversation. “Kanina ka pa umiiyak ah. Okay lang yan.” That’s the only time I was able to smile again. During our talks, I started to learn he’s not a Laguna-native. He’s heading off to Paete General Hospital to visit someone. It was his 2nd time to visit the place but the first time he did, he took the Rizal route. So now I understand. He was new to everything here. He seemed to be a good person so I told him I’d take him to the hospital. Besides, he was taking care of me the time. It was surreal. Fear started to get out of the system as we continued to talk. And in no time, the rain poured lighter and lighter as we reached our destination. Trucks and rescuers came to the scene so we were somehow relieved.

The sight of the hospital was the most rewarding gift after all that. You know how people would seem on TV when they walked miles and miles in a desert and suddenly saw an oasis nearby? We looked like that, we came very close to that. It’s like we were brought back to life. It was a heavenly feeling for me, I don’t know if it was the same for him but pretty much it was too. All I saw was that big smile on his face. Just like that, I thank God we were able to put our smile on our faces again.

Yes. His name was Roy (How ironic. Friends, please don’t try to react, he’s not the same guy).
“Megan,” I replied when he asked me my name.

Before I left, I thanked him with all my heart.
How could you thank someone who just saved you from your worst nightmare?
To think that if he did not convinced me to get out of the jeepney, I’d stay there ’til morning!

I was fragile at that moment but then I’m glad someone came to me.

I felt secured, thanking God that there I was, riding on a jeepney once again on my way home, surely, no heavy rains, no brutal winds, no dreadful landslides. Everyone in the jeepney was smiling back then, telling their own stories about how they got through those incidents. As for me, I was thanking God endlessly, as I began to realize that Kuya Roy was just not a stranger who happened to take the same jeepney as mine, with no umbrella at all when the country’s expecting a typhoon coming. And then I smiled once again with the thought of how clever God has been by sending me a guardian angel.

THANK GOD! This is it. HOME. ❤
Is it just the weather or am I just glad I’m home? I opened the gate with the sight of Mommy waiting on the front porch. And yes, I told them the entire story. They (Yes, daddy too) were all ears. 🙂

The phone rang and it was my parents. With their happiness, I could nearly imagine their faces smiling. They’re glad I made it home. I also told them my story but what I didn’t expect was the story they told me. That day, October 2, was the Memorial of Guardian Angels and they asked me if I met one.

Well, I just smiled as I said, “Yes.”

guardian angel

the view from the moon

“And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years,  and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so.  God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars.  God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth,  to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good.  And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day.” Genesis 1:14-19

moon-armstrong-400x405

forty years ago today, man first set foot on the moon.  as i read and watched interviews with the austronauts who were blessed to experience this life-changing and awe-inspiring moment (which is an understatement of course), i noticed one common thread that bound them to that scene over and over again.  Apollo_11 crewhow they went to the moon and only saw the beauty of the earth.  how they explored the moon and “discovered” earth instead.  how they marvelled at the earth’s jewel-like appearance amidst the endlessness of space.  how the earth was so small and fragile, that they could blot it out with their thumb.  and how  “its most beautiful and eye-catching sight sent a torrent of nostalgia and sheer homesickness”.  it took millions of miles of space travel for them to realize how much of a home they had left behind.

moonearth_580

this earth is our home too.  and we sure can’t possibly all go to the moon, sit back and enjoy the view just to realize the grand design of this place we all have grown so familiar with.  but we are parts and parcels of the earth.  we are its essence.  we are part of that beauty that the crew of Apollo 11 saw.  and if only for that, we are as blessed as they are.  only we didn’t realize it yet.  i just hope and pray that we would, before its too late.  for the way that we are wasting away God’s creation by the minute, i wonder how the earth would look like from the moon 40 years from now.

apollo-11

surely all of us would want to do something for the preservation of the earth, in whatever means possible, not only to save it from destruction and for our own survival.  remember how we all treasure a gift that we receive from someone special to us? the earth is a gift, and if we love the Giver, then so we must cherish and care for it. moreso, let us all do it to glorify God through the magnificence of his creation.  so that whenever God sits there from the viewdeck on the moon, He shall be pleased with what He sees. 

earth_from_the_moon

thank you, Lord

(a simple poem i wrote lovingly dedicated to our Lord

on this special day to celebrate

42 years of full life and  sweet love)

 

thank you Lord for the sunshine and moonlight

the raindrops and morning dew, the birds in flight

thank you Lord for the gentle wind and ocean breeze,

the fishes that dwell in the deep blue sea.

 

thank you Lord for the rich wildlife

the virgin forests and deserts wide

thank you Lord for the hills and valleys

the mountain tops and the rivers wild.

thank you Lord for flowers bloom, for fruits abound

for butterflies that flutter all around.

 

all these and more i dearly hold

their beauty, warmth and mystery unfold

i thank you Lord for dad and mom

who had to mold

my childhood memories foretold

my siblings, my friends, my family 

and everyone i’ve met and known

your love they’ve shared and sown.

 

but most of all, i thank you Lord

for this breath of life you breath in me

to feel great love and see such beauty

to make me best that i can be.

for this is the meaning of my life

to give all back to you

the love and kindness and even more

in all i’d ever  hope to do.

the waiting

“But I believe I shall enjoy the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living.  Wait for the Lord, take courage; be stouthearted, wait for the Lord!” Psalm 27:13-14

it’s been a week now since i started working again in an office environment.  i’ve waited for this job for months now and boy, was i really thankful and excited when they finally called me.  my first day was quite scary.  i was ah hour anda half early because my husband had to drive me to my workplace before proceeding to his.  since the main door was still closed, i had to wait in the hallway of the 2nd floor all alone, with the familiar setting which i usually see in horror movies.  you know, long hallway, not a single sound, not a single face in sight.

but then again, all waiting had to end somehow, and the holder of the key finally came.  it was after i prayed the rosary andeven had a short conversation with the Lord telling Him how scared i was. somehow talking to Him gave me the courage that i needed during times like that.   and somehow i thought, this was a blessing in disguise since it gave me a much needed quiet time in the midst of this world full of chaos.  that quiet time also made me think about how my life, and maybe most of anybody else’s too, is all about waiting.

when we were kids, we waited:  for the school bus, for recess, for home sweet home after school, for playtime, for pasalubongs, for Christmas, for birthdays…

when we were teens, we waited:  for campings, for our favorite teachers, for our crushes to pass by our classrooms, for the prom, for love letters (no cellphones yet), for summer vacations, for graduation, for birthdays, for Christmas…

when we were in college, we waited:  for enrolments (long queues notwithstanding), for cute professors, for exam results, for classcards, for sundo, for sembreaks, for balls, for gimiks, for concerts, for movie premiers, for summer vacations, for graduation, for Christmas, for birthdays…

after graduation, we waited: for job interviews, for employment, for paydays, for bonuses, for promotions, for pay hikes, for friday nights, for gimiks, for weekend breaks, for longer breaks, for love, for wedding proposals, for weddings, for Christmas? (it depends on how many godchildren one has), for birthdays? (it depends on one’s outlook in life now)…

after the wedding (if any), we waited: for the baby, and another, and maybe more babies, for their first smile, first dapa, first step, first birthday, their 7th and 18th birthdays, their sembreaks, their graduations, and Christmas again having more meaning now with the kids around…

when the kids settle on their own, we shall be waiting:  for retirement, (if lucky enough…) for scheduled vacations and trips abroad, for Christmas when the kids will surely be coming home for reunions…

and after that, when the time comes that we are just about to pass on,  can we precisely tell ourselves that we had a full life?  or life just passed us by and we didn’t even notice, because we were too busy waiting. and for what?  seize the moment now.  make the most of it. value what really matters. hold it dearly in your hands. savor the love.  smell the roses.  feel the warm sunshine.  to wait is only meaningful if it is Jesus that we are waiting for.  and before He comes again, it would please Him if we made the most of the life that our Father had gifted us with.  because we shall pass this way but once.

on being alone

“…You are my help; do not cast me off; do not forsake me, God my savior!  Even if my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will take me in.” Psalm 27:9-10

new places, new faces… it is such a frightening experience to go to college and live in a dorm.  it’s like going to the airport and boarding the plane for the first time.  we are reminded how happy it was to come home everyday knowing mom prepared warm, delicious meals that we need after grueling days in school.  it was a delight to kid around with our baby brother whom we share the room with, to throw pillows at each other even after lights out.  and how secure we were whenever father comes home knowing ahhh! we’re finally all together, complete and safe in the warmth of each others’ love.  now in the cold four corners of our dorm room, they are still with us…smiling back at us…only this time, just in that one happy photo which captured that sweet moment when we were still together. nothing beats that oneness of a family.  not even the perks of independence.

now we are independent.  or maybe learning to.  every morning we manage our own time; go to school and back; pass by the library or student center anytime.  no hurry coming home to dorm now.  maybe cook or eat out- whatever we feel like eating. don’t care if it’s healthy stuff or not. go to bed early or late. whenever we want to with no one to check on us if we are still wide awake or already dreaming. the following day would turn out most likely just the same.  if we are the normal and disciplined type, this routine follows until graduation day.  then we had to move on again. and that’s already another story.

but we go through the process.  we miss our family.  we crave for their company.  we cry out our loneliness.  all part of the process.  but change is constant. after all the tears have dried, a part of ourselves is watered like that of a plant that needs it for its flowers to bloom. we learn to become stronger.  we discover capabilities that we never imagined we had.  and the one thing most important about being alone is that, we learn the value of the people we love who we always take for granted because they were always there.  these people who annoyed us because they tend to  become overly caring and protective of us.  now we learn to realize how much these people meant to us.

and with these people that we love in our hearts, and in the depths of our solitude, that is when we feel the Lord’s presence in our lives.  no distractions.  only the Lord and us. isn’t it such a comfort to feel that we are not alone after all? and never we will be.  for as long as we had been born up until we breathe our last, our Lord is the one constant in our lives.  and like the plant that was watered, we ought resolve that wherever our future may bloom like a flower, our roots remain deep in our home’s sweet ground, and our arms be lifted up like branches towards our special place in heaven.

let your light shine

“Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.” Matthew 5:16

oh yeah it happens all the time.  we enviously stare at the other side wondering why it’s always better on that side where others stand on.  on our side there’s always something petty or silly  to complain about.  we keep feeling sorry for ourselves and end up in despair for some things that are not really meant for us in the first place.  but how many times did we ever glance at where we stand? did we not consider that maybe, those on the other side may also be staring at us thinking how fortunate we are, and how they wish they are in our shoes?

yes we all are indeed fortunate in different ways, most of the times we don’t even realize.  the past days i kept trying to keep the website i built a week ago ‘alive’.  but i was drained of ideas and lacking of technical know-how because i was only a beginner.  i was frustrated.  maybe it was just the grand idea of having a unique website of my own that i forgot why i even need to have one in the first place.  i was busy browsing from one page to another in awe that i felt such pride that oh!  i can do that too.  and boy! i was wrong.  really very wrong.

the Lord has given me such gifts in another field that i am thankful about and yet i am not cultivating.  gifts that when nurtured and harvested don’t drain me at all.  those that come naturally and makes those who taste them see better, feel better and think better too.  the same way some web pages also do. 

i’m not giving up on learning how to build a website with lots of traffic and stuff.  but surely then, it will showcase not what my interests are as i first intended, but those ‘gifts’ that i already had, which i forgot to open, because the ribbons and the wrappers on the other side looked more attractive.

Gotcha!

“As He was walking by the sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen.  He said to them, ‘Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.’  And at once they left their nets and followed him.”  Matthew 4:18-20 

Two nights ago, despite our reluctance my son and I went fishing with my husband.  It was a weekend and here, it is a way of life for families to go out and spend time together.  I wished my daughter, who is now in college in the University of the Philippines was with us. 

It was my son’s first time to go fishing so I tried to show as much enthusiasm as I could knowing how boring it could get.  My son kept asking me why fish when we could buy them in the market, for which I didn’t had an answer.

It went on as expected; just boring . My husband did all the fishing, and we did all the watching.

But the night took a turn when we noticed the water level going up slowly.  We had to move back towards the shore around five times already.  I was already sleepy, and if I didn’t do anything other than listen to the enchanting waves of the sea, I would definitely fall asleep.  So I finally gave it a try.

Lo! After just a few seconds after the hook touched the water, I felt it.  Yes! So I yanked and pulled.  t

There it was. A fish at the other end of the line.  I was so excited.  Like a child, I was jumping and even clapping.  
So this was how it felt.  It was followed by one more, and then another. Those moments completely changed my perception about fishing, fish and fishermen.  

My catch reminded me of the miracle of the 5 loaves of bread and 2 fishes which fed thousands who were hungry.  The Lord led the fishes to my bait.

This also reminds me of the value of sharing, the virtue of patience and the importance of family sticking together through the high tides and low tides of life.

Isn’t it amazing that Jesus chose fishermen to be His first apostles? Maybe this is the call for us too- to help fish for souls who are drowning and needed a line to yank them up.

Now’s the time we get to choose. Be the fish? Or the fisherman?