never alone

“For we walk by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7

yesterday i experienced the scariest and weirdest moment ever. 

you see, there is no company transport provided for us,  so i have to go with bhoy every morning.  that means i am always an hour and a half early for work.  that also means that it is my duty to unlock the office main door and switch on the lights. it also means that i could enjoy some peace and quiet before each stressful day.  there’s time for me to pray the rosary, retouch make-up, clean my desk, read the news and update my facebook status, even before everyone else arrives. 

except for some familiar sounds that come from the kitchen, which by this time i’ve already gotten used to, nothing unusual happens.  not until yesterday morning.

as i placed my bag and packed lunch on my desk and was about to take a seat, a loud banging on the glass part of the wall divider behind me swallowed the silence that i’ve grown to love now. BANG! BANG! BANG! as i turned to look at where the eerie noise was coming from, my heartbeat raced really fast that i felt it was out of the building within a sec.  but then, the rest of my body froze in my seat.  I WAS REALLY, REALLY TERRIFIED!!!  (thanks to my love affair with horror movies, my imagination became gory and gruesome OMG! )

the first thing that i could think of was a remote possibility that there maybe somebody locked inside the office the day before.  the second thing was oh well!  i could not think of anything more other than how scared i already was. as i sat motionless for like an eternity, i just prayed “Oh God, please don’t leave me. I’m all alone.”  minutes were transformed to forever.  you can just imagine my relief when my officemate and friend, mila, eventually arrived.  it was then that i got my heart back to its rightful place…my frightened heart that seemed to have taken a flight back home to laguna.

of course there may be spirits or souls that roam around, whose energy may have caused that really loud banging. and so, i was really wrong when i thought i was all alone.  in fact, i realized now that indeed, i was never alone. and never will be.  to quote Pope Benedict XVI during Sunday’s Angelus prayer, he stressed: “Every time we recite Our Father, our voice becomes entwined with that of the Church, because those who pray are never alone.” http://www.catholic.org/international/international_story.php?id=37525

in connection to my weird experience yesterday, this legend about the cherokee indian youth’s rite of passage was sent to my email this morning. here goes:

his father takes him into the forest, blindfolds him and leaves him alone.  he is required to sit on a stump the whole night and not remove the blindfold until the rays of the morning sun shine through it. 

he cannot cry out for help to anyone.  once he survives the night, he is a MAN.  he cannot tell the other boys of this experience, because each lad must come into manhood on his own.

the boy is naturally terrified.  he can hear all kinds of noises.  wild beasts must surely be all around him.  maybe even some humans might do him harm.  the wind blew on the grass and the earth, and shook his stump, but he sat stoically, never removing his blindfold.  it would be the only way he could become a man!

finally after the horrific night, the sun appeared and he removed his blindfold.  it was then that he discovered his father sitting on the stump next to him.  he had been at watch the entire night, protecting his son from harm.

we too, are never alone.  even when we don’t know it, God is watching over us, sitting on the stump beside us.  when trouble comes, all we have to do is reach out to Him.

Moral of the story:  Just because you can’t see God, doesn’t mean He’s not there.

oh yes God is always with me.  but question is, am i with him? or will i rather be elsewhere? how many times did i go astray and got lost along the way? do i sometimes get ahead of Him who is supposed to lead me instead? 

next time any sound breaks that precious silence again,  my prayer is that the presence of God would build up my courage and strengthen my faith.  let it be a resounding assurance that He will never ever leave me, even when most of the time i am not worthy.

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invisible wall

“And He called the people to Him again and said to them ,”Hear me, all of you and understand:  there is nothing outside a man which by going into Him can defile him; but the things which come out of a man are what defile him…  For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, fornication, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, foolishness.  All these evil things come from within, and they defile a man.”  Mark 4:14-15, 21-23

stone-walls-avila

there was this one gathering that we were invited to.  the notice was kind of impromptu so to speak.  it was already past my bedtime, but still we have to go,  if only because we have to drop our son off so he could spend time with his friends.  despite the other parents’ persistence over my mobile phone and bhoy’s subtle hints for me to get down from the car for a moment and say hi at least, i declined because i felt sick.  though as i look back, i am not sure now if it was for real or just imagined.  that was not the first time.  i have already excused myself on similar occasions many times before.  though at first, i thought i was able to get away with it.  but as i start to run out of excuses, i also began to question my motives.  maybe i’ve already pushed myself way deep into the abyss of extreme fear.  but what am i really scared of?

there were chapters in my life  when interactions with other people caused me so much pain.  intimate or otherwise, intentional or not, the memory would come and go, and would still hurt me as much.  subconsciously, as an instinct to defend myself from the probability of its recurrence, i built an invisible wall around me.  this wall provides a sense of security to know that nobody can no longer come in and hurt me again, unless i allow it.  so that if it happens again, it will be my entire fault because I let my guard down and let them sneak into my protected sanctuary and inflict pain on me… again. OUCH!

 sometimes it feels unfair to decline any invitation of friendship from new acquaintances, because that was when the hurting usually starts.  it is like cancer that slowly and silently ravages one single organ, and if it is no longer satisfied, moves to another, then another, until it spreads out to the whole system.  at that stage, no medications are effective enough to cure it.  and sadly, painkillers are just a moment’s comfort because they can no longer stop the pain entirely.  and that is worse than the disease itself.

 the wall that I built around me is selective.  my naive and vulnerable nature turns it into a sponge that absorbs any makahiyadisplay of kindness and gentleness.  and in an instant, it can turn into a “makahiya” which folds inward when touched or shaken.  it is an acquired instinct to over-protect myself now.  not only from predators lurking in the darker avenues, but warily from unfamiliar creatures which  disguise otherwise.

 call it instinct.  but sometimes it already seems like i’m just being paranoid.  and i really feel guilty after those excuses, because i know deep inside it is not fair.  especially to all who genuinely cares about me.  therefore i commit a grave injustice far greater than those who have hurt me.  not only am i depriving myself the warmth of human bonding, i also prevent others to get to know and understand me better.  instead, like a turtle who hides its head in its shell, i retreat into the innermost recesses of my solitude, because it is there that i feel safest.  or so i thought.

but truly, only God breaks down walls and opens new doors for natural order of things to find its course.  praise God for the power of His word.  for by His grace He made me realize that the madness that comes from without can do me no worse, than what i can do to myself.  and since i have no control of what’s to come,  i’ll be forever comforted by the reality that He will always protect me.

gods_embrace

harsh realities of life.  even our Lord Jesus Christ, in all His power and glory, was not spared because He loves us so much.  pain and suffering are part of what makes us better persons.  and they don’t even come close to what our Lord was made to endure.  He offered his life totally and unconditionally, and we partake in His suffering by enduring our own.  and maybe too, if i offered my own, by sharing my self to others regardless of any suffering that it might bring,  His suffering would not have been in vain. 

i just pray that one day soon, in the name of Christ Jesus, i would be able to put into action what the Lord had just made me realize.  and my invisible wall would finally disappear, together with the foundation of pain from which it was built upon.

strength in weakness

“And to keep me from being too elated by the abundance of revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to harass me, to keep me from being too elated.

Three times I besought the Lord about this, that it should leave me; but He said to me “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

For the sake of Christ then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and calamities; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:7-10

Helping hand

there were many times in my life that i was down, depressed and frustrated.  when i was younger, even the tiniest of  issues were like big deal. and they almost immediately initiate the feelings of being so “kawawa naman ako”. 

time passed and the issues  revealed their ugly faces.  they came to life, grew bigger as i grew older.  i realized whew! so this is what the generations before us were talking about.  how life can be really hard, and how it is a game of survival where only the toughest wins. 

eventually, in my mid-age, i have already experienced the worst, that i never imagined possible.   and what’s even more frightening was, there were times when i get anxious with the thought that,  it may not be the worst yet.

those difficult times, however, became my teachers in the school of  life.  for the most part, i have been betrayed, not once or twice; i stopped counting.  but i learned about trust as well.  i have experienced frustration, but learned about encouragement.  i have made mistakes, yet i learned about forgiveness too.  i’ve reached rocked bottom, but learned how to get on my feet and move on.  i tried hanging on, but then i also learned when to let go.  i faced desperation head on, and faith saved me.

God works in mysterious ways all the time in our lives.  during the darkest of times, i see the light of His Love guide me on my way.  in the coldest of night, i feel His warm embrace and i feel secure.  when there was none, He always provides. 

jesus-carries

now as i travel through what remains of my life’s journey, i will never be lost again.  though i know there may be bumpier roads ahead, i shall never be shaken.   obstacles may try to block our path, still i will not tremble.  for now the Lord is the driver of my life.  in His hands, i will forever be safe.

that’s my Michael

“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” Numbers 6:24

young michaelthere’s no doubt about it.  Michael Jackson is the man.  based on worldwide reaction on the news of his death, there’s no denying that indeed, Michael is king.

when i read about his passing on the internet, all i could feel was shock and sadness.  although i don’t know him personally, he left a void that only a Michael Jackson could fill.

my first conscious memory of my love for music started with a tiny piece of a record player.  and there were two records that stood out from the rack. one was a local pinoy record of cinderella (?) “sa aking pag-iisa”, the flipside now escapes my memory.  and the other one was Michael’s  “ben” and “one day in your life”.  these records were played over and over again, so that at my tender pre-school age, i could already sing both songs correctly, and in tune.  thus started my unconscious connection with Michael Jackson. 

i am not really a die-hard fan.  but i love his songs and his uniqueness as a performer.  i practically grew up with his music.  Christmas was never complete without his “give love on Christmas day”. and when i was old enough for teenage love,  “she’s out of my life” was a favorite during LQs (lovers’ quarrels).  when love got deeper, it just got more romantic with ” i just can’t stop lovin’ you”. happy times were accompanied by “rock with you” and “black or white” or “pyt”.  most probably, he’s also the reason why Gary Valenciano is one of my top local favorites.  he moves and grooves muck like MJ too.  aside of course, from his deeply religious and inspirational songs.   and as i mature into a young lady, my awareness about the world’s urgent and more serious concerns were awakened by “we are the world” and “heal the world”.

his music became part of the soundtrack of my own life.  my favorite is “the man in the mirror”.  it somehow became a personal anthem of mine, believing that if ever i want to change something in the world for the better, i must begin with myself first.  it somehow gave me a deeper perspective about man’s existence.  and i knew somehow deep inside of me, that song had such a relevant impact on how i see myself in the context of being a part of the human race.

although Michael’s personal life may have sounded out of tune at times, we must remember that we have no right to judge anybody, much less someone who had made such a huge difference in the lives of many.  and if ever he had any faults, then who ever has none? so he never experienced an ideal childhood and preferred a reclusive life, so what? who can blame him for that?  all that matters now  is how his life, and his musical gifts that God had endowed upon him, had taught us. 

goodbye Michael…your music will forever live on.

michael-jackson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

we too, have our own God-given talents.  are the gifts that God has blessed us with, remain wrapped and hidden? is there something too, that is unique in us that we also ought to share? something that would make another’s life more profound and meaningful?  aahhh… we would never know, unless we take a look at ourselves…  i’m starting with the lady in the mirror.

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.

coping with solitude

“He said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.’ People were coming and going in great numbers, and they had no opportunity even to eat.”  Mark 6:31

solitude is the state of being alone.  to some it is a relief from stress.  to be isolated in silence doing nothing.  it is a luxury to those who had to deal with the hustle and bustle of life, day in and day out of their busy lives.  solitude is a privilege to hear the voice of God.  solitude gives us the chance to wait for what God has to say to us and feel his presence in our hearts.

but to others, solitude is simply just being alone.  being isolated.  being left out.  some even equate being alone with being sad.  some suggested ways to cope with it are:

1.  start a hobby.  gardening maybe, or art crafts.  they calm the mind and body.

2.  raise a pet.  maybe a dog or cat that you can cuddle or play with. 

3.  read.  a book, newspaper or magazines that would stimulate your intellect.

4.  exercise. sweat it out.  (pick up that dumbbell that’s collecting dust already) or dance around. 

5.  be techy.  surf the net, call mom and dad, chat with friends, play with the psp, blog

6.  cook.  be creative.  experiment with new recipes.

7.  watch a movie.  unable to go to the theater lately?  now’s the time to catch up.

8.  introspect.  there’s no better time to examine yourself, reorganize your life and plan your future.

9.  go out.  meet new people.  meet old friends.  see new places.

after all these have been tried and tested,  and still nothing worked, go back to the paragraph about solitude and try see it in this perspective.  listen to the voice of God.  listen. and then, pray.  praying is our way of answering back the messages that we had listened to in our hearts.  it is such an awesome feeling to know there is always someone we can talk to.  we may not see Him through our human eyes, but if we looked deeper using the eyes of our faith, we can actually see his presence in our lives. and surely Jesus is there all the time.  keeping us company. and amen! we are never alone after all.