Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Something borrowed ...

What is your concept of time? How do you see time? Where do you see your life or your death on that time concept?

That was what was asked of us at the last Liturgical Renewal Day held a few weeks ago. We were preparing for the season of Advent.

What is Advent? Advent is the time of preparation for the coming of the Lord.

It is that four weeks before Christmas day where we light the four candles in the wreath. One in rose pink stands out signaling that one week remains and it is with great anticipation that we await the coming of Christ.

So, this wait was translated into illustrating our concept of time. We were given many materials ranging from cereal boxes to magazines to paper towel rolls. Some made 3D models of their concept of time. But with so many people, not everyone was able to share what they had made and what their concept of time was.

On that time concept, you had to place yourself - where you see the beginning of life, where it ends and what are your achievements.

Inspired by the Holy Spirit, I created a passbook, one similar to that of a savings account at a bank. My account name was my given name and my opening date was my earthly birth. The credits to my account were the times I came closer to being with God - the times of illness and near death. The debits or the withdrawals were the years spent on earth. My concept of time was borrowed.

Only God knows how long we will live and how long we have to spend on this earth. But we don't know. For me, since I don't know, I think every moment and every minute is borrowed and at the same time a gift.

I could have died in a car accident last Saturday when a car came from nowhere on the highway merging into my lane. But it was not my time yet. Many people die each day, some in their sleep. And that time before they joined the creator is all borrowed.

So, at the opening of my account with God, I received birth bonds: bond of Christ, Love and a life bar shaped liked a gold bar. Similar to a bank, you are able to invest in bonds. The bonds of Christ are the moments in our lives that God has shown Himself and seeks us out so we can be closer to Him. The love of Christ is the interest that grows with every deposit. Deposits being the ways that we make active choices to acknowledge God. Love is free and grows exponentially. The life bar is our life and we receive only one bar when we are born. We are free to do with it as we like.

With Christmas just around the corner, what is it that you are waiting for? What are you preparing for? What is time for you? And how will you spend it?

This Christmas I hope that all of you will have time to reflect on the year past and the coming year. May it be a time dedicated to Christ. May the Child Jesus be the reason for the season and may His love abound in all our families, in our hearts, today and always.

Super shield

"Sometimes before you reveal yourself you need to put on a shield ... "

This was something I heard from a movie I recently watched.

There was a time when I did not think I needed a shield because I possessed all the power and strength. Youth does that to you. You feel invincible like you own the world. Yes, a part of me still believes that but I've been hurt too much to know that sometimes I need to protect myself.

And I do the same for my loved ones.

You see, we were blessed with a very loving mother and she trusts too easily. We have somehow inherited that and because we are only half of her, I am proud to say that we were also gifted with Papa's genes - very wise and a good measurer of people.

But going back to the shield ... Nowadays I maintain a relatively medium height wall for people to climb over. It is a test. One it proves that a person is willing to climb over my wall which means I am worth the effort. This weeds out the faint of heart. Second, the wall is scaleable so that I am not unreachable. So, the winner is the one who at least tries. I give points for effort.

There were instances when my wall was very high and it seemed that the view from the top was very lonely. My mother said, sometimes when people can't come to you, you have to meet them at their level. I have learned that. Like my own medium-height wall, I am willing to scale someone's mighty shield if I think they are worth the effort, especially if I can see that behind the facade is a person bearing great weight and shaking with fear. Until today, I hold that same fear and weight. Although it is a bit lighter.

And once that wall is scaled, there is no turning back. One cannot unsee.

So what was the wall for? What was the shield for? What was so important that it had to be shielded from the public eye?

For some people, they are secrets. Others, disbelief in themselves. For many it is fear - fear of being hurt, fear of being found out that they are not what everybody thinks they are, fear from criticism. The list goes on.

And because once our walls were only knee high, our vulnerabilities were so obvious it was used to hurt us - deliberately or unintentionally. It made us feel insecure, it made us feel less strong, we felt at the mercy of others. Or it could just be irrational fear.

For one reason or another, we felt that we needed to protect ourselves. And so the wall grew and grew so that people could not read us or could not easily use our weaknesses against ourselves.

Then came some people who thought it would be fun to overcome the challenge of the wall. So they climbed. Others lost hope, others would not give up. Carefully, the victors would wear down the walls gently by moving every brick back and forth until it loosened from the cement and was broken away clean. These are the people that respect you and care enough to tug at you when you are ready. They are patient, they understand you and they are willing to wait for the wall to come down.

Then there are those who try to climb the wall by tearing down the foundation. These are people who don't care about you but likes the thrill of the chase. At any cost, they will bring down the wall so they start hacking at you without any qualms. It is these people that makes the walls go higher and higher.

Our shields need not be static walls. They can be drawbridges that shut and close at the face of danger. Generally it is open but once threat is felt it shuts to offer more protection to the innermost you.

The story in the movie I watched ends on a twist: Sometimes, you don't need a shield because being yourself is enough to protect you.

We are given senses by God to know when danger approaches. We feel something is wrong when a suspicious character talks to us. We are on guard when certain people seem to say sweet nothings yet our hearts feel otherwise. Yes, sometimes, it is enough to be us because God equips us with the armor and shields that we need. He says to call on the Holy Spirit in times of trouble and He will push through.

This has happened to me so many times. I have uncanny feelings when I am about to enter into a dangerous situation. Before, I risked entering danger to test the waters. Now, I listen to God's prodding or interpret the signs that God is showing me to know whether what I am about to do is justified or not.

Shields are important because they help protect the innermost you and me. Though sometimes, maintaining a wall is tiresome. Some people will always criticize. Yet there are gems of people that we might be missing out on. And for them and for God's other creations, it is worth the effort to get to know someone even if it means getting hurt. "A" for effort they say.

I'd like to end with a line from "Wicked". Glinda says:

(Glinda) I've heard it saidThat people come into our lives for a reasonBringing something we must learnAnd we are ledTo those who help us most to growIf we let themAnd we help them in returnWell, I don't know if I believe that's trueBut I know I'm who I am todayBecause I knew you

Like a comet pulled from orbitAs it passes a sunLike a stream that meets a boulderHalfway through the woodWho can say if I've been changed for the better?But because I knew youI have been changed for good

Because I knew you God - I have been changed for the better, for the good. Thank you ...  May you always be my shield in times of trouble and may you always be with my loved ones.

How awful it would be if we would have to scale a wall to know you Lord. Thank you for being open to us.

Thank you for never tiring from tugging at me brick by brick so I can be who you want me to be - warts and all. 

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Psst ...

It's almost 3 a.m. and I was on my way to sleep when suddenly, I got called. I started my night prayers and I prayed that I would get to sleep. After a few minutes, I still couldn't fall asleep. My body was surely ready for sleep but my mind wasn't. Then like Samuel I said "Speak, Lord, I'm listening." I kept listening. I even asked: Do you really want me to write, right now? So I tried sleeping again and too many thoughts were raising through my mind.

So, I am taking to my virtual pen and paper and writing my thoughts.

Some of my pondering went to something that happened earlier. Someone had asked me, how did I know God was calling me to serve. If you'd asked me when I was younger, I would say, I just felt it. If you asked me now, I would say, I heeded the call.

I think we are called in one way or another to do something for His glory. Sometimes, the call gets drowned in the world and most of the time, in our own thoughts. We mistake His voice for ours and dismiss it. But maybe that's why along with our thoughts, we feel stirrings, a certain tug at our hearts. Like somehow, we are being pulled to do something. An internal compass if you'd like.

That's how I know I'm being called. Like right now, I was on my way to sleep when I felt this urge to write. Why would I want to write at 3 in the morning? I would rather sleep. But I felt that I had to write, write down the thoughts that were whirring in my head.

So, I am.

Earlier today, someone said that a way to be closer to God is to be in His presence. What that means to you or me may be different. But it definitely struck me. My life is as busy as most people. It becomes difficult to hear God's voice. God exists everywhere and He communicates to us through any medium - be it nature, a friend, a talk or even a stranger. Heeding the call is another thing.

In that busy-ness we are almost always physically exhausted, yet something seems to be still missing. Do we undertake more responsibilities? Ask God, what is it?

Speak, Lord, I am listening.

I had been off work for a week. I had tendonitis in my right arm. It was the worst thing that could happen to me because I was right-handed and I liked working with my hand.

Then I said: Thank you, God. Thank you for letting this happen so I can be with you. It's not everyday that you get to have a full day with God. It was like a God holiday or what my brother aptly coined: Staycation. It was like a vacation because you had to stay.

My injury also left me very vulnerable. Like most people when they are sick, you imagine the worst. And you feel pity for yourself. It was a test of mortality. We are only here for as long as our body holds up. For a 32-year-old, it is scary. But even then, at least I made it to 32.

I couldn't do most of the things that I could if my hand could function. I couldn't even type. Writing this is even a challenge in itself. Yet, for as long as I can do it, I will. A day may come when I will not be able to write and shame on me for not capitalizing on my ability to do so now.

I still feel quite fragile. Earlier today, I had stomach cramps. It seemed to be emanating from my navel. It scared me a little. But I hope it was just a part of the many nerves affected by my tendonitis.

I am no longer a spring chicken. That I know.

And I don't know if God is telling me to take better care of my body or to do what I can now while I can rather than to wait later when time may not be on my side.

So, it's 3 a.m. and I think my ramblings should come to an end.

Yes, Lord, I heard you ... I hope you call again.

Monday, September 17, 2012

It's alive!!!

It's alive!!! Looking at the page views of this page, I have decided to go back to this medium copying my works into Facebook and hopefully, Google will not decide one day to get rid of it.

I am of course referring to the change in vision of Multiply where I used to religiously post my picture and stories. Now, I have to really take my writing seriously as there is no use not to practise my craft.

Communicate, communicate has been the message for the week and how it plays into leadership. Leadership has been thrust in my face since I was small. I am always hesitant to take a leadership role but I seem to be chosen every time.

So, why alive? Alive because I have found the veins in my blood screaming words. Words that need to be written down. And whether the medium is Multiply, Facebook or blogger, words must flow.

And I have to communicate them well so that I can give birth to my masterpiece.

Thank you Multiply for being there for me when I needed a canvass for my work. I hope that you will find a new peace in  your new chosen field.