Wednesday, November 26, 2008
So, when I feel out of sorts sometimes and I feel there is an earthquake in my heart or in my soul, I smile ... I did that today and it felt good.
Have you noticed too that when you smile at people it becomes infectious?
So pass on that peace ... pass on that smile ... you never know ... you might be making a difference in someone's life.
Plus it's hard to argue when you're smiling ... :)
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
I remember listening to my grandfather who used to tell us stories when we were children, of how his own father, in his youth, carried him across the river because he had no slippers, so he could go to school. He would recount his love story of the woman he loved from high school, the kind and wise, Lola Cristina, who willingly gave up her scholarship, though she was the top of the class to my Lolo, so he could finish his studies to become a good provider. He would talk of the Japanese war and the death it had caused, even at his own hands.
My grandfather came from a family of intellectuals and musicians, who were traditionally poor because of their craft. They would sit around talking for hours on end and chew on the stories that each one gave. Our last name was originally "Per" as my mother tells us but because my kinsfolk were known for their talent in entertainment, it would soon become "Princesa" because we were known throughout the village as the musicians, storytellers, entertainers of that time.
And Lolo would quip up his stories during family gatherings. Even if it was repeated more than once, I never tired of listening. I liked looking at the animated face of my Lolo and I liked looking at the equally animated faces of my cousins as the imaginary dog with sagging breasts, "Tapik tapik" would come running down a deserted street and bare its teeth to the horror of the younger children and then screaming would ensue. We would gather round Lolo and just listen. And he would oblige us and tell us how beautiful and handsome we were, us, from his loins, to his children's, we were his wonderful progeny.
He would tell us the stories of the characters in his own Ranao-Ranao in the now-city of Ligao. And he would sing the songs about him and Lola that the villagers sang. Of the songs, sung about my Lola about her parents. Their love song.
I love stories ... not just Lolo's but everybody's. I am a word junkie and even more a story junkie. I love listening to old people tell their stories of how it was in their time. I love hearing of people's stories now, of their triumph, of overcoming struggle, of living life, of love, of death, of everything.
Sometimes, I am hooked to a telenovela because I like to follow the story from beginning to end. So, I don't start one lest I don't have the intention of finishing because that is also another penchant of mine - finishing what I started and making sure that I end things in the proper way, never abruptly and never in the middle. It would feel like a cliffhanger and I would never be able to rest in peace if that were so.
When I read a book, I can feel the characters come alive and until now I can see Ms. Marchmont from Charlotte Bronte's Villette sitting up in her bed, whispering her last spirited words to her maiden as she realizes that her sorrowful life had been wasted in fret and that she had just to accept the will of God to embrace the love that she had once had when Frank was taken from her. That in her old age and 30 years of loneliness and sorrow, death was now her consolation to be reunited with him. And alas, as the wind blew its screams that night which had envigoured the body of the once beautiful Ms. Marchmont, the following day, the same wind from her life was taken.
I watched today the Spirit of Storytelling - a special by CNN hosted by Becky Anderson. It related how the ancient art of storytelling has never ceased to exist because as Nobel Peace Prize winner, Nadine Gordimer said "we project ourselves as a way of exploring ourselves" to the people, to the character in our stories, those people that may be mainstays in our lives and of those that were just passing but made an impression on our lives. Paulo Coelho, Allende, Doris Lessing and Gordimer share their stories and our stories as they echo that which has been known, there are universal truths in our lives, our stories resemble one another. Coelho said there are four stories to tell: (1) Of two people and their love; (2) Of three people and their love; (3) Politics; and (4) a journey.
Gordimer quotes William Butler Yeats "What do we know but that we face one another in this place?"
And that is a story worth telling ...
Friday, November 14, 2008
Feelings are neither good nor bad. We hear that all the time. It's what you do after having a feeling that makes it good or bad.
That's when response and reaction comes in. When we touch a hot stove, we immediately pull our hands away. That's a reaction. When we pull our hand and decide to stop touching the hot stove, that's a response. See the difference? The latter is a conscious choice.
The same is true for joy and sorrow. Joy is not just a feeling ... it's a state of being. It's a decision to be happy in whatever situation one finds himself/herself in. One of the stories mentioned during the talk was how St. Francis defined "perfect joy". He had been on his way to one of the monasteries with his brothers when it rained. It left them muddy, unrecognizable and dirty. He told his brother that even despite all our muddiness, our unrecognizableness and our dirtiness and we still manage to reach the monastery and they don't recognize us and we suffer yet knowing the truth, that is perfect joy.
'And now hear the conclusion, Brother Leo. Above all the graces and gifts of the Holy Spirit which Christ gives to His friends is that of conquering oneself and willingly enduring sufferings, insults, humiliations, and hardships for the love of Christ. For we cannot glory in all those other marvelous gifts of God, as they are not ours but God's, as the Apostle says: 'What have you that you have not received?' But we can glory in the cross of tribulations and afflictions, because that is ours, and so the Apostle says: 'I will not glory save in the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ.'"
To whom be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
from The Little Flowers of St Francis, The "Fioretti"When I heard this, I couldn't help but get teary eyed. There's so much to be thankful for in life - that includes the many challenges we continue to face on this earthly life. The same challenges that mold us to become the perfect images of Christ - bearing our crosses with no regret, with no sorrow, with only joy.
There's a time to feel sorrow too. When there's a death, when there's a wrongdoing, when there's something to be sad about. But one musn't stop at sorrow.
The talk emphasized that we could be joyful in everything we do and we can find that source of joy in knowing God. And that joy is something we choose to be and not something we just feel when we're happy. We can be joyful in everything that we do, because God is there leading us.
We can choose to respond with joy at all times.
and it inspired me to write this ...
so many times, in unexpected places and in unexpected times,
my heart flutters to find its love.
it doesn't say wait ... it doesn't stay stop ... it's like lightning that strikes.
so, when you're in doubt, could this be true love?
let your heart speak and let the doubt dissipate
for it's not in the days that you come to know a person
it's in the heart that understands
no time, no day, no moment appointed
just the heart that says it's time
the heart doesn't count the days ...
it only counts the ways ...
that love can be realized ...
in every possible way ...
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
It was a totally different experience for me. I had to sing and I had to lead the worship. I had to prepare the food. But these weren't the important things, it was the pastoral formation that I was concerned about. Would I be a fitting leader? Could I lead by example? Would they respect me, follow me? Or would they be hard-headed and the like? It proved to be a challenge but it was also rewarding. It was through servant-leadership and by dying to my own fears that I was able to get out of myself and let God lead me in doing His work.
When you let him have the helm, everything falls into place. You finish a household meeting thinking, was that me? How did I do that? It was God's Spirit. Indeed, where two or three are gathered in His name - there He is in our midst. The Spirit leads and we follow. And the household is blessed.
I could never forget what my best friend said when I asked her for advice regarding leading a group. She said ... "God doesn't choose who serves Him as long as you serve Him." And from there, as God used my best friend, Jam, to deliver His message, I became comfortable being in such a humbling position as a leader of a household. But leading is not so much teaching but learning from all the members. Everyone brings their own story and as a leader, you grow from the membership as you would like to share also pieces of your life and hopefully make a difference in theirs.
Handling a group taught me that I had a lot to learn. It taught me to love unconditionally. It taught me to be patient, to be kind, to not be judgemental and most of all to love. I learned to listen and I learned to give priority to other people's needs. It's not easy as I was very self-absorbed. I lessened my complaining and as I was regarded as a pillar of strength, it made me draw on God's strength even more because I am only human and no physical strength could withstand the challenges of facing life where good and evil interplay.
I continue to be humbled because as I grow in service and handle a group, I know that I may not be doing enough. I know that anything I do can be misinterpreted. But I have faith in God that He will use me in whatever way He can to glorify Him and to bring the souls I share the faith journey with closer to Him.
God is a God of good order. He likes to make sense of our lives. But we have to do our part too. For God helps those that help themselves.
Last January, we had a very blessed planning session for the Singles for Christ in Geneva. Not one but four mission volunteers came to help us. Kuya Jerry Rivera (UK), Tessa Sarmiento, Chicong Laput, Raynard (Vienna) blessed us with their presence so that we could identify our SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats).
The two-day planning session was a time for worship and fellowship and coming before the Lord and offering all our plans for the upcoming year. Indeed, God proved to be a God of good order as we were able to undertake most of our activities and on time.
It was a memorable experience because we were not too dependent on our coordinators for planning our events but that we had a say too in what would happen to our ministry. It was a year of many firsts - we had our own SFC General Assembly, our own Covenant Orientation and our own Household Leaders' Training tailored and given by SFCs. It was an exercise in independence as well as empowerment. We had grown wings and it was up to us to do our part to make the changes necessary and to be the pillars of strength for our members. It was our turn to fly and test our wings.
And so a year has passed and many Christian Life Programmes after, we are thriving. We may not have achieved the Vision we set out to do which was 150 active SFCs in Central Europe but it is enough to know that the members here have taken new responsibilities and that old members have gone out of their comfort zones to plunge into the active life of SFC. It is thanks to God who has promised that our future is secure in Him as long as we serve Him faithfully.
We lift up our coming year as we embrace our service and face the new challenges ahead.
I claim the promise of God in Jeremiah, for indeed God's ways are not our ways and if we leave our plans in His hands, it will blossom into the marvelous future that He has prepared for us. It may not come in the package we asked it to be, but surely, it will be the best for us. For God is the best planner there is.
I pray that SFC Geneva will continue to grow in number, in service, in faith and in God.
Friday, November 07, 2008
Kinilabutan ako habang pinanood ko ito. My heart goes out to all of us OFWs especially those that are so far away from their families. I join him in singing "pagsaluhan natin ang baong pag-asa" (Let us feast on our hope). For there is always hope ...