In My Father's House

Poems, Prayers, Inspirations, Photos and Musings about life, love and what it means to be a child of the Father

Sunday, May 15, 2005

What is a Retreat?

Despite the resurgence of retreat movements and the flourishing of retreat houses all over the world in recognition of people's growing hunger with God, little is known about retreats. What is a retreat then? I will offer you a few images that I've learned from a friend, Fr. Albert Alejo of the Society of Jesus. He says that a retreat can be explained by using any of the following metaphors:

  • The Hurdle Athlete. An athlete who runs over hurdles needs to retreat to gather strength so she could surpass the hurdle set before her. The higher the hurdles, the farther back the athlete retreats. This way she is prepared to take on steeper heights by taking higher leaps.
  • The Painter. An artist engrossed with his masterpiece may need from time to time to step back, to retreat, to be able to see the bigger detail of what he is painting. This he does by leaving his canvas mounted on an easel and walking as far back as he can see his work. Sometime he may need to shut his eyes completely off so that fresh images and colors would flood his vision answering the color puzzle that eludes him for days or weeks or months.
  • The Mountain Climber. A mountain climber may need a few days off in order for him to prepare for a dauting task of scaling heights. He may need to bring along a few things that would not encumber him in his climb, just the necessary implements--water jug, sleeping bag, climbing gear and the like. Then he leaves the city, leaves his work, leaves his family and relationships--not permamently though. He leaves them so that on top of that mountain he can contemplate where he has gone wrong, where things are missing in his life and what these things are. On top of the mountain, he sees where the river ends and where the plains and hills begin. He also sees the connections (or lose connections) of the various aspects of his life. Then he returns home, hopefully more attuned to those connections and be able to do something about it.
  • The Cabinet Cleaner. A retreat can be compared to someone who for the longest time has not found the opportunity to clean her cabinet. She sits down for awhile and opens the cabinets and drawers of her life. There she may discover letters, gifts and things that remind her of her relatives and friends. They may bring joy or sadness to her. She also discovers her long lost pair of earrings that she thought was gone forever. She also dicovers a bottle of medicine that at one time cured her of her depression. She looked at the label and sees that it has expired and has become a poison. Taking the same medicine could be lethal so she takes it away and throws it to the garbage bin. Because life is like that. We keep some things that may no longer be of value to us, in fact could even be poisonous to us. So we have to open our drawers and cabinets and see what's worth keep and what's worth a space in the garbage bin.
Those are just some of the images that we can use to explain what a retreat is. Anyone, in fact everyone should take a retreat at least once a year to see things in a better perspective, in a better light.

I will be on retreat starting today and ending on the 23rd of May. I ask for your prayers and I promise to pray for you too.

Son of the Prodigal

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Draw Water From The Wellspring of Your Pain

(For those who have been broken by love and vowed not to love again)

Do not be afraid to draw water from the wellspring of your pain
For you may find it bitter but its bitterness does not kill
Gulp it like a deer to quench the parched landscape of your soul
And to gladden your heart so toughened by indifference

For you have been used to drinking what is sweet
That you have forgotten that it is a delusion to believe
That life and the world is nothing but a garden of roses
Where thorn and mournful experiences never exist

Do not hesitate to veer away from the trodden path
If getting where you want to be and not someone else's
Is the price of getting lost in a dark and prickly wood
To emerge not unscathed but wounded by Wisdom

For you have seen so many people led astray by following
What they thought was the right and only way
Until they found out much to their woeful regret
That they let themselves be and have been deceived

Do not be afraid of splattering mud on your lofty ideas
For it is in walking through the muck that we discover
How much more filthy it is to have pure thoughts
That have never been pitted against the vagaries of time

For you yourself have been witness to many a man's genuis
That led to the betterment of not one single soul or creature
But framed like a portrait for all people to see and admire
Which they can never take home nor show to their children

Do not give up on Love even if you're hurting like hell inside
Because you'll find Heaven an unbearable place to live
If you've thrown your heart away like a losing deck of cards
When you have bet and lost against what you called love

For many a man like you have made their wager and lost
And thought it was the end of the cruel and taunting world
When all along they've yet to realize, that he who loves and loves
Despite the pain is the one who has truly gained--Everything.

Thanks to Paring Bert for the two lines here that served as my inspiration.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Who Touched Me?

Or why am I so afraid to let others know that I am a Christian?

Recently, I came across two articles written by two bloggers about their hesistancy to express their faith. I am one like them. Sometimes, I find it really difficult to express my beliefs about my God for fear of offending other people. (Yeah, times have changed. Before, you can offend others by expressing your unbelief. Now it can be the other way around.) Or isolating them. Or coming across as some kind of holier-than-thou person. Why is this so?

Because our faith is one of the most cherished possessions that we could ever have in this world. We can have riches. We can be popular or someone important in public life. But without faith, we can still be nothing. We treasure this faith of ours as if it were our very lifeline. Now if people ridicule us (or belittle the very faith or God we believe in), do we not feel that they are trampling on our most precious gift?

So rather than flaunt it, we find it more convenient to tuck it away to where no one can diminish its value. What does God have to say on this? I found inspiration on the Gospel scene where Jesus asked people in the crowd "Who touched me?" when he was on his way to Jairus' house. Obviously, Jesus was not being sarcastic or slighted (because the bleeding woman did not ask his permission to touch him)? Nor was he playing dumb or stupid because obviously he would know who touched him if he felt power surged out of him. So what does Jesus really want to say in that scene?

Jesus was really giving the frightened woman a chance to speak out in the crowd, to share what she really felt and what really happened to her when Jesus came to her and healed her. Why would she be afraid? Because she was a woman, she was poor and she was old and sick. And we all know that women like her were not esteemed in that society. People looked down on her. Now to speak about her faith, her conversion would be tantamount to suicide. She knew that they would sneer at her, reprimand her and tell her to go back home where she truly belonged.

But Jesus showed not only compassion towards her by healing her. He empowered her as well to speak out, to admit and to proclaim what miracle happened to her. Jesus was saying, "Go ahead woman, speak out. Be not afraid, I am with you."

Now, isn't that comforting to know?

Son of the Prodigal.

And a woman who had had a flow of blood for twelve years and could not be healed by any one,came up behind him, and touched the fringe of his garment; and immediately her flow of blood ceased. And Jesus said, "Who was it that touched me?" When all denied it, Peter said, "Master, the multitudes surround you and press upon you!" But Jesus said, "Some one touched me; for I perceive that power has gone forth from me." And when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling, and falling down before him declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed. And he said to her, "Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace."

Luke 8:43-48 The Revised Standard Version

Prayer with instrumental music

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Everyday Miracle

Image hosted by

Please visit Anne Geddes studio. I borrowed this picture from her.

What is a Mother?

A mother is someone who wakes in the middle of the night
Just so she could see if her child is warm in bed
She won't eat unless she's certain that you're fed
She teaches about what in the world is wrong or right

She treats your wounds that may bleed as hell
But she does'nt rest until you are fine and well
She reminds often, when you go out into the street
Look left and right, be polite to people you meet

She may be as harsh as towering tyrant
But only she has the tenderest of hearts
This world may be cruel as she often says
But right beside her you're safe and blest

Only a mother, they say, can love a child no matter what
She may not be perfect in virtue and many respect
But she sure does know, the anguish of a young man's heart
And in this regard, she is a woman blessed by God

for my Mother and all the mothers in the world in this day
that rightfully and joyfully celebrates their day. Happy Mothers' Day!!!

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Lo! The Widows Are Dancing

you came to us one day
and enchanted us with tales
of a far away kingdom
that lies beneath our dreams

we listen with rapt attention
as you speak about a fantastic journey
that you promise to bring us all,
which begins at the doorstep of our hearts
and ends at the edge of time

you asked yourself to be welcomed
to our homes and to our tables
which we gladly obliged, knowing
you are just a passing stranger

but you stayed
and told us more,
and shared our pains and joys
our triumphs and tribulations

we in turn told you our secrets
and our vulnerabilities
we told you our longing, our desiring
we shared with you our sweetest dreams
and our most frightening nightmares

and you listen
with rapt attention

until we are completely enamored
and intrigued by your person
of who you really are
and why you do the things you do to us

and late have we realized that you,
that we are completely under your spell
when we pipe in to the mournful
yet sweetest tune of your instrument

and lo! and behold!
even our weeping widows
dance in gleeful abandon
and for the first time in our lives we knew
that you are the pied piper of Jerusalem

For Fr. Manol Montesclaros, SJ.
Peninsula de Punta Fuego, Batangas. October 31, 2004.

And What If You've Been Hurt?

Firehole Bridge A lot of people argue that they cannot simply forgive persons who had hurt them deeply. This is true. You cannot just say to a person who did the hurting, "Hey, I forgive you and I have no more ill-feelings towards you," especially if that person is a loved one or used to be one.

Of all the hurts, the one committed by a person we love hurts the most. And why is it? Because the pain we feel is intensified by feelings of betrayal, abandonment, dishonesty on the part of the one who hurt. We may ask, "Why didn't he tell me?" or "For so long, why did she keep this to herself? I only she spoke up."

Then we go on blaming ourselves of things we did and we did not do to prevent the hurting. We also blame the other person for things that he did and did not do. And most of all, we blame God saying, "You knew that all of this would happen and would really hurt me. How come You allowed this to happen and remained silent while it was happening?"

And what if God says, "I'm sorry. I never intended it to be that way. I knew it would hurt you down deep but it would also make you stronger and a better person. If you can only see what I'm preparing for you, perhaps it would ease your pain, if a bit. Because you see, 'I make all things new.'"

Son of the Prodigal Father
"But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." [Isaiah 40:31]

Friday, May 06, 2005

Dwelling Place

Whenever I feel down and out, that the world is conspiring against me. I sing this song and somehow an invisible force lifts me up and out of this melancholic bog. I find myself at home with God.

Dwelling Place
by John Foley, SJ

I fall on my knees to the Father of Jesus
The Lord who has shown us, the glory of God.

May He in His love give us strength for our living
The strength of His Spirit, the glory of God.

May Christ find a dwelling place of faith in our hearts
May our lives be rooted in love, rooted in love.

May grace and peace be yours in God our Father
And in His son.

May Christ find a dwelling place of faith in our hearts
May our lives be rooted in love, rooted in love.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

God's Magic Slates

When we were kids, our mother bought us some Magic Slates to encourage us to draw or write again and again without wasting so much paper. I think it did the trick. My sister has the perfect handwriting in the family, while the rest of us brothers learned how to draw and paint.

The idea behind the Magic Slate is fairly simple. By lifting the transparent films (away from the dark, gummy resin where a wooden pen made impressions) we are able to make the slate clean as new again. To us, young at hearts, it was nothing short of magic!

We spent countless hours drawing funny pictures and silly cartoons on it. We would write secret messages or play jokes with one another using it. Since the markings were so easy to erase, we found it convenient to use it as often as we liked.

I'm not sure whether kids these days are familiar with Magic Slates. Probably not if they have computers at home. Now, I recently realized that our relationship with God is so much like the Magic Slate. We commit sins, we are forgiven. And ooops! the record of our sins gone! Then we promise not to sin again but then again we do so the marks are there again. But God keeps on forgiving us the number of times we ask for forgiveness. And then the record of our sin is gone. Like magic.

Our God is a wonderful God who allows us to make mistakes and hopefully learn from them. He does not stop us from sinning but takes us in when we want to go back to Him. Isn't He like magic?

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

My Father's Gentle and Reassuring Hands

This is my most favorite Anne Geddes photograph. It captures the very idea of
Abandonment into the Father's Hands.

I borrowed this pic from her site. I hope she doesn't mind. If you want to visit and see her magnificent photos visit this link: Posted by Hello

Pray Unceasingly

Do not underestimate the power of prayer. Do not think that God's delays are God's denials. For all we know, He has not stopped working on your last request and even when you are fast asleep your prayers are being heard. So pray unceasingly. Storm heavens with you petition. Wasn't Jesus the one who said that if you ask something from his Father in his name, He would surely grant it?

Sometimes it can be so frustrating when we're asking for a particular thing and God's seems to be not listening. We are tempted to give up and play indifferent. After all, we reason out, He's playing dumb too. But God deals with us individually. He hears our every plea and petition. And He knows if such a request would be good for us or harm us. He knows too when the timing is right.

Think about a kid who asks his father for a motorcycle. The father does not say no to him but he does not immediately grant his boy's wish no matter how he loves him. Instead he waits for a more opportune time until the boy grows up and becomes more capable of taking care of himself, of driving the motorcycle and of not doing any harm to others. For the meantime, the father may give the boy a bicycle or a skateboard. But that doesn't mean that he has forgotten the boy's original request.

The same is true with our God. He hears our prayers but only He decides when to give and how to give what we want from Him. So never cease praying. For all you know, right at this very moment, God is answering your prayer.

The Son of the Prodigal

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

My Father's House Posted by Hello

"My Father's House" Lyrics

I found this poignant but beautiful song on the internet and I decided to paste the lyrics here. Hope you'll like it.

My Father’s House

(Ben Harper-Bruce Springsteen)

Last night I dreamed that I was a child
Out where the pines grow wild and tall
I was trying to make it home through the forest
Before the darkness falls
I heard the wind rustling through the trees
And ghostly voices rose up from the fields
I ran with my heart pounding down that broken path [way]
With the devil snappin' at my heels
I broke through the trees and there in the night

My father's house stood shining hard and bright
The branches and brambles tore my clothes and caused me harm
But I ran till I fell shaking in his arms
I awoke and imagined the hard things that pulled us apart
Will never again sir, tear us from each other's hearts
I got dressed and to that house I did ride
From out on the road, I could see its windows shining in light
I walked up the steps and stood on the porch
A woman I didn't recognize spoke to me through a chained door
I told her my story, and who I'd come for
She said "I'm sorry, son, but no one by that name lives here anymore"

My father's house shines hard and bright
It stands like a beacon calling me in the night
Calling and calling, so cold and alone
Shining cross this dark highway where our sins lie unatoned

If you're interested in listening/downloading the mp3 version you may find it here.
Be patient I assure you it's beautiful. I will try to upload it myself in the future

Today I'll Let God be God

Today I will let God be God
Step aside and let Him take lead of my life
Relinquish all control, actual and imagined
I have over my life
Let go all the nagging pains I feel inside
And let Him be a soothing balm of healing
I will let go of all anxieties that keep me wake at night
And let Him take care all my worries and concern

Today I will let God be God
Content myself as creature
Give him access to the dark and secret rooms
Of my heart and let Him bring warmth and light
Let Him lead me to paths I dared not go before
I will let Him sit me beside a running river
Under the shade of a tall and leafy tree

Today I will let God be God
And watch myself walk again
As a free human being...

The Prodigal Son

Monday, May 02, 2005

The Beauty of the Morning

The beauty of the morning lies in knowing that the night has passed and the dawn has arrived, bringing with it new possibilities, new hope, new dreams. As the sun's rays crawl over the mountaintops and spreads over the sea, you know that night is over along with its nightmares and shadows.

I give praise to you Father for You created the darkness so when can fully appreciate light. I give praise to you that even in the darkest night You created the moon and the stars to remind us that we are never alone. I give praise to You because in the dark we can confront our deepest fears and bring them to Your shining Light. May this new day bring forth all the graces and blessings You intended for me and for all the people I will be meeting today.


The Son of the Prodigal Father

Sunday, May 01, 2005

What Dawn Brings

Dawn reminds us of God's faithfulness throughout the night and of His infinite mercy throughout the day. Posted by Hello

Statement of Faith

I believe that nothing happens by chance
That everything is pre-ordained by Him
Who knows every affair under the heavens
And on this earth

I believe that no child who goes crying in the night
Sleeps uncomforted by the tender embrace of God
I believe that even in the littlest bird that dies
Somewhere in a forest He silently weeps for it

I believe that darkness and rain are necessary
For sunshine and rainbow to appear
That in every pain that we whisper in His ear
He listens very closely and brings healing in return

I believe that even when I feel most abandoned
By people or friends closest to me
God never for one moment leaves my side
He stays with me and cares for me

This much I believe...

The Son of the Prodigal Father