Sunday, October 12, 2008

living for the living

it was an early autumn saturday morning, golden yellow leaves were strewn on the streets. i had just run from the park and made my way to petit-saconnex, passing through another forest-like park and going towards petit-saconnex when i saw a middle-aged woman having difficulty with her groceries ... it seemed she had just come from the nearby grocery. she stopped a few metres in front of me and she reposititioned herself to carry the two heavy bags. i was mulling over the idea of offering help ... but decided to keep running and i kept looking back at her as she tried to manage her load. i was on my way to the cemetery (again) because i was in the area and i thought i'd say hi to the dead and share their peace. but as soon as i got in, made the sign of the cross, i stopped dead in my tracks. i made a u-turn and tried to run after the lady.

the thought hit me ... i keep praying to God to give me opportunities to help, yet i didn't take this one. so i ran as fast as i could, reached her as she lay her groceries once again on the ground ... i asked her in french "would you like some help? it seems that you're having a difficult time with your bags." she said, "it's nice of you but my husband is just coming." just then i saw her husband making his way to her. i bid her farewell and that i hoped she would have a good day. she smiled.

then i ran as fast as i could trying to erase the sorrow that i felt. i didn't help soon enough! how many times, in our lives have we put off trying to help someone because we hesitated and to find out that when we finally take the courage, it's too late.

i kept thinking as i ran trying to outjog my disappointment in myself. i didn't return to the cemetery but continued to pour over the thought - our lives are meant for the living, to be with the living, to love the living, to help the living, to be alive in every sense of the word and to really be there for others when they need us.

the rest of saturday was about being there for others. i had gone with a friend to cressy to inquire about the spa and massage facilities. it was a lovely trip albeit far, i still was in the frame of mind of living for the living and being there for others. after inquiring and knowing that they didn't have any available place, we decided to take merienda of tea and shared apple pastry. we talked about life and writing. when it was time to go, i was debating whether i should go to the forum on migration and development or just go with my friend and accompany him as he does his groceries. i decided to go to the forum.

at the forum, the topics of social costs of migration, optimizing the diaspora for development and surviving in geneva as a migrant were discussed. here again, as a migrant and part of the diaspora ... i thought, how could we help? i had arrived late and just caught the last part of dr. manuel dayrit's presentation and listened intently to the next speaker, elizabeth warn of the international organization for migration. i was glad that she had discussed practical tips on how the diaspora, the migrants abroad, could link up with their home communities and to give back to the country not just on a hometown basis but on a national scope. she mentioned the colombia experience where a web portal (redes) was established to match needs of the country of origin with those that can be given by the diaspora. i asked her about this after the talk.

it was not only a forum but a workshop. i joined the second group which was about optimizing the diaspora. i wanted to see the practical applications of how we can really help. i think i will delve on the topic on a separate entry.

i'm citing these examples because again, we are here to help those that can still benefit from our help. those that are still living.

this morning, at mass, i was so moved as two parishioners held hands to say the "our father". the male parishioner, who had just recovered from a kidney transplant and still had his hospital ID tag on his wrist took the hand of another female parishioner in a wheelchair, who seemed to be recovering from a stroke. they both seemed to be in their 60s. what caught my attention was the eagerness of the male parishioner and the show of affection and love for someone else other than himself. i was close to tears when i saw it. i began thinking again, how many times we've failed or i've failed to be generous with my affection to someone i didn't know or even someone i do know because of fear of rejection. here is a man who could've lost his life on the operating table giving what care he could in his living life.

later today, i attended a recollection for Gawad Kalinga. it's the first ever held here in geneva. it was an eye opener as well as another avenue to live for the living by helping the poor. (i will probably write a separate entry.) it forced us to reflect on how best we can help the poor, what was the right frame of mind - but overall, it was just how to help those that are less fortunate than us.

i often hear that God only creates opportunities for us, never really answering our prayers as we like them to be, handed to us on a silver platter. so, sometimes when opportunities come up to help and i came short ... i feel like a failure. but i will not dwell on it. i will just try harder to be there when i'm needed. to die to my own needs and to put other's needs ahead of myself. it's difficult but life is short. every opportunity is worth taking because we live for the living and not for the dead. Jesus says "let the dead bury their dead."

let's celebrate life and let's make it in the service of God and others.

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