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

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Prayer on Finding God after a Long Search

Too late have I loved you, O Beauty so ancient, O Beauty so new. Too late have I loved you! You were within me but I was outside myself, and there I sought you! In my weakness I ran after the beauty of the things you have made. You were with me, and I was not with you. The things you have made kept me from you - the things which would have no being unless they existed in you! You have called, you have cried, and you have pierced my deafness. You have radiated forth, you have shined out brightly, and you have dispelled my blindness. You have sent forth your fragrance, and I have breathed it in, and I long for you. I have tasted you, and I hunger and thirst for you. You have touched me, and I ardently desire your peace.

St. Augustine, Bishop of Hippo

Sunday, August 28, 2005

The World Happened to Me...

The Dulaang Sibol, Ateneo de Manila University High School theater group, presented its 302nd production of Sinta, a musical play adapted and transplanted from the Fantasticks of Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones. It was my second time to watch the musical and I really enjoyed watching it. It's very rare that a literary piece (a musical one at that) can make you laugh out loud yet in the end make you really cry.

The genius of the play, and I guess the translator's (Onofre Pagsanghan aka Mr. Pagsi) genius as well, is its ability to play with your emotions. One time you see yourself laughing with the entire audience and another time you quietly notice that you are actually shedding tears. The music, the superb acting and the minimalist approach of this play makes its truly an event to watch and an experience to relive again and again.

This play makes no bones about baring the truth about love: that it is so sweet at the beginning yet it can be so cruel at the end. But just the same, it's the bitterness, the pain and folly together with the secret triumphs, the little sacrifices that we make that render this world a little more bearable.

In a very touching scene between the estranged young lovers Sinta and Narding, the young lady asks her betrothed, What happened to you? The young man replied haltingly, full of pain and sorrow, wisdom and understanding, What happened to me?...The world...the world happened to me...

Plays like this is a testament that boldly declares that despite the suffering that comes along with loving, it is finding each other and the Other, that makes our lives and our loves truly meaningful.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Anger Management

This morning four of us Jesuit scholastics gave a recollection to four sections of grade six pupils of the Ateneo de Manila. I was humbled by the kids' sincerity in expressing their anger towards people who have hurt them. Some of them even went to describing in detail what happened to them and what they wanted the other person to do for them.

"Please stop insulting me," one of them said, "it really hurts and it's not true. I hope you can be more respectful of me."

Another one said, "I hope you realize that calling me names is not a good thing. I become angry whenever you call me names. Don't do that anymore."

And another one said, "I ask you to stop bullying me. It's not funny. Let's just be friends like before."

But I was more amazed to read their letter to God asking Him to help them deal with their anger more positively and in a healthy manner. They said:

"Lord, please teach me to forgive _________ . He hurts me and makes me sad. Give
me a heart that can forgive him."

"Jesus, you know that I and ________ are best friends. But he is so mean to me, doing
all sorts of nasty things towards me. I ask that you return him to a normal kid. Teach me also to forgive all those who hate me."

"God, teach my heart to forgive all who wrong me, especially _______ . I know you love even kids who do bad things to other kids. I know you love ________ also as you love me because sometimes I also do things that ________ d0es. Bless all of us."

It is so humbling and so refreshing to hear from the mouth of the babes the sincerest desire to forgive and ask for forgiveness. Maybe, if we just all learn how to manage our anger more properly and to ask God to grant us the grace of a forgiving heart, we'll all grow up into peace-loving and peace-making people. And maybe, just maybe, even George Bush Jr. need not wage war against Iraq if he would learn this simple truth from the children.

" A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do [them]. And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God." (Ez 36:26-28)

Thursday, August 25, 2005

The Shawshank Redemption

I was still in high school when I saw this truly magnificent film. It's so mesmerizing that I have even memorized some of the lines spoken in the movie. With a haunting musical score and flawless narration by Morgan Freeman, this film was edged out of the Oscars by Forrest Gump.

The Shawshank Redemption was an adaptation of Stephen King's novella Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption. It chronicled the life story of Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins), a bank executive, who was wrongfully accused of murdering his wife and her lover. Serving almost two decades at the Shawshank facility for hardened criminals and outlaws, Andy earned the respect and admiration of his fellow inmates and his jailguards and even the ruthless warden by his incurably optimistic attitude towards life and his ominous silence and endurance of sufferings.

He made numerous friends, as well as enemies inside but his greatest contribution was "setting free" every man in Shawshank including their jailers. In a poignant scene in the movie, where Andy put a microphone on the phonograph, he earned a month's detention. Nevertheless, as Red (Morgan Freeman) put it:

"We never knew what those two Italian women were singing. But we all know, that for the brieftest of moment, everyman in Shawshank, was free."

And when Andy made his great escape from the prison, everyone felt happy but at the same time sad. Red said:

"Some birds are not meant to be kept because their feathers are too bright. Yet when they leave, something in you dies... Sometimes something's too painful that they cannot be expressed in words and that is why it makes our hearts ache."

Released in 1994.
Directed by: Frank Darabont.
Actors: Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman

Prepare a hanky when watching this film.

There will Be (No) Wailing and Gnashing of Teeth

Jesus said to his disciples: "Stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come. Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into. So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.
(Mt 24:42-51)

No one knows for sure when the Lord will come. It could be this very minute, later this evening, next week or in the next century. So what is the point of waiting? Shouldn't we be better off spending our time doing something else? Why wait for someone or something that we are not sure when to arrive?

To this we have an answer in the mouth of Vladimir, one of the characters of Samuel Becket's Two-Act play Waiting for Godot.

Let us not waste our time in idle discourse! (Pause. Vehemently.) Let us do something, while we have the chance! It is not every day that we are needed. Not indeed that we personally are needed. Others would meet the case equally well, if not better. To all mankind they were addressed, those cries for help still ringing in our ears! But at this place, at this moment of time, all mankind is us, whether we like it or not. Let us make the most of it, before it is too late! Let us represent worthily for once the foul brood to which a cruel fate consigned us! What do you say? (Estragon says nothing.) It is true that when with folded arms we weigh the pros and cons we are no less a credit to our species. The tiger bounds to the help of his congeners without the least reflection, or else he slinks away into the depths of the thickets. But that is not the question. What are we doing here, that is the question. And we are blessed in this, that we happen to know the answer. Yes, in this immense confusion one thing alone is clear. We are waiting for Godot to come—
Or for night to fall. (Pause.) We have kept our appointment and that's an end to that. We are not saints, but we have kept our appointment. How many people can boast as much?
Perhaps it is not really the waiting nor the waited upon that matters most. It is the fidelity and love with which we wait that really is important. While waiting, we are asked, how much love have we put in the act of waiting?

And perhaps, when we have arrived at the place of the final destination, when we have truly loved not only the waited upon but the act of waiting itself, when we have shown the true character of our soul, whether the waited upon arrived or not, there would be no wailing and gnashing of teeth. Let us certainly hope so.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

The Fear Of Life And Death

Death wanders through our lives at will, sweet Death
Is busy with each intake of our breath.
Why do you fear her? Lo, her laughing face
All rosy with the light of jocund grace !
A kind and lovely maiden culling flowers
In a sweet garden fresh with vernal showers,
This is the thing you fear, young portress bright
Who opens to our souls the worlds of light.
Is it because the twisted stem must feel
Pain when the tenderest hands its glory steal?
Is it because the flowerless stalk droops dull
And ghastly now that was so beautiful ?
Or is it the opening portal's horrid jar
That shakes you, feeble souls of courage bare?
Death is but changing of our robes to wait
In wedding garments at the Eternal's gate.

by Sri Aurobindo

Reference: # 18 in "Les poèmes de Sri Aurobindo" (bilingual edition)
also in "Collected Poems and Plays, vol 1" - 144

The Vendo God

One of the most amazing inventions of the twentieth century is the vendo machine. It's a machine that looks like a refrigerator with buttons and a coin/bill slot. The vendo dispenses products ranging from stamps and soda to condoms and cigarettes to anyone who wants them at anytime of the day. It's very simple to operate. You just have to insert into the slot a few coins or a paper bill and press some button combinations and presto, you have your cup of steaming cappuccino or an ice-cold softdrink.

But from time to time a snag happens: nothing comes out of the machine. Sometimes your coins or bills get "swallowed" by the machine and you can't get them back. Many times also, your coins or bills get "vomitted" by the machine and you stand frustrated until you begin kicking the machine or hitting it with your closed fist repeatedly. Then when you are too exhausted to do anything more you begin swearing at it. So much for technology!

Come to think of it, many of us treat God like a vendo machine. First we think about what things or favors we would ask from Him. Then with a few mumbled prayers (our coins and bills) coupled with a "charitable" work here and there and some sacrifice (our button combination) we demand something in return. And when we don't get it, we hit God repeatedly, we swear and curse Him. Then we leave in anger and frustration.

We expect God to be like a repository of good stuff available 24/7 , seven days a week. And that our prayers, no matter how sloppy, ought to coax out from Him a much-deserved goodie. And when He won't oblige our demands, we call Him names and do things that will hurt Him.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Straining the Gnat and Swallowing the Camel

Jesus can really be so archaic and funny at the same time. (Mt 23:23-26) He sounds like the old people: our parents, aged professors, anyone past the age of fifty. If you are not familiar with a gnat then the pun has just escaped you. A gnat is a very small insect the size of a tick. While a camel is a flying mammal (just kidding!). To strain a gnat is similar to split nose hair.

So what is really the point of Jesus? We are sometimes too caught up with the details of everyday life. We give too much premium on the non-essentials of living. We impose too many restrictions on others and ourselves. We go to great length of tiring ourselves over petty things.

Yesterday, I was really annoyed by a classmate who misquoted me in front of the class. I wanted to shout at her and tell her that she was very wrong. I got so irritated that even when I was already home I kept thinking about her and talking about her. I didn't want to let the "offense" go lightly. I wanted her punished, humiliated even.

Now, that is straining the gnat! Splitting nose hair. While I was busy criticizing her (for all I know, she was really unaware of what she said) I forgot that I was doing too much damage on her person and to myself. Why wouldn't I let go of my hurt? My attitude towards her was worse than her fault. I swallowed the camel while I strained the gnat. Poor me!

Monday, August 22, 2005

An Imperfect God?

It would have been easier for us to accept an imperfect God in place of one who is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent. It would have been easier to believe in a God with limitations, a God with weaknesses and failings. It would make much more sense to accept that God cannot do all things all by Himself, that He cannot answer all our prayers at one time, that He does not really work 24/7, that He too tires and desires a much-deserved rest.

This way, we can all end blaming Him for wishes that He did not oblige to grant us. No one will blame Him for someone's death, for separation between lovers and friends or for not winning in a lottery. There will be no one to point an accusing finger towards Him when worse things happen to us. No one will feel hurt or rejected or abandoned when things go wrong and the only person left to blame is God.

Life would have been so much easy. We would no longer pin our hopes on Him. We would be modest in our expectations. After all, He is an imperfect God: He cannot do everything. And we might even begin to fend for ourselves, take care of ourselves and stand on our own two feet. After all, God may not be the best person to help us. And probably, we can begin to understand how difficult it is to be God.

We can go around and tell people, "Forgive me, I'm imperfect just like my God," and people may understand just what we mean. Then God will cease to be the Great Scapegoat of every mess that happens in our lives. We can then say, "Go easy on God, He is just...well, God."

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Touched by An Angel

We, unaccustomed to courage
exiles from delight
live coiled in shells of loneliness
until love leaves its high holy temple
and comes into our sight
to liberate us into life.

Love arrives
and in its train come ecstasies
old memories of pleasure
ancient histories of pain.
Yet if we are bold,
love strikes away the chains of fear
from our souls.

We are weaned from our timidity
In the flush of love's light
we dare be brave
And suddenly we see
that love costs all we are
and will ever be.
Yet it is only love
which sets us free.

by Maya Angelou

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Even a Goldfish Has A Heart!

I'd just watched this low-budget but critically succesful film entitled Mga Pusang Ligaw (Stray Cats). It's about two friends (one gay and one independent-minded woman) who had been abused by their male lovers and how they have come to discover that sometimes friendship is better than their most passionate romantic relationships. In one very touching scene, Marta (Irma Adlawan) confronted her unfaithful boyfriend about his infidelities and endless alibis. She told him:

"Kahit ang goldfish may puso. Sunod sa katawan at kaluluwa ang puso ang pinakamagandang ibinigay ng Diyos sa atin. Binigyan niya tayo ng puso para umibig at ibigin. Hindi pala Siya perpekto. Nakalimutan niyang bigyan ka ng puso." (Even a goldfish has a heart. The next most wonderful thing that God gave us after our body and soul is our hearts. [It seems that] God is not perfect. He forgot to give you a heart.)

To those who make other people's heart bleed: may you all be goldfish in a stray cat's mouth! Ouch!

Watch it before it disappears from the big screen.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Disturb Us, Lord

Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too well pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we have dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wider seas
Where storms will show your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.

We ask You to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push into the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.

attributed - sir francis drake -1577

more prayers at WorldPrayers

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Neil Gaiman's Definition of Love

Have you ever been in love? Horrible isn't it? It makes you so vulnerable. It opens your chest and it oepns up your heart and it means that someone can get inside you and mess you up. You build up all these defenses, you build up a whole suit of armor, so that nothing can hurt you, then one stupid person, no different from any other stupid person, wanders into your stupid life...You give them a piece of you. They didn't ask for it. They did something dumb one day, like kiss you or smile at you, and then your life isn't your own anymore. Love takes hostages. It gets inside you. It eats you out and leaves you crying in the darkness, so simple a phrase like 'maybe we should be just friends' turns into a glass splinter working its way into your heart. It hurts. Not just in the imagination. Not just in the mind. It's a soul-hurt, a real gets-inside-you-and-rips-you-apart pain. I hate love.
I think I have to agree with this definition...

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Dumbledore's Death Faked!

Just finished J.K. Rowling's 6th installment of the Harry Potter series (Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince). I must admit, like an older and bigger friend, I too cried and could not believe that the greatest wizard Dumbledore is dead. Although I don't want to spoil things for those who have not read the book yet, like all the rest of the intrigued and thinking Muggles, I believe that DUMBLEDORE IS ALIVE!

In fact he will be back on the last book (I hope it really is the last, Rowling is running out of ideas from her magic hat but definitely not of cash). He will continue to teach Harry lessons to defeat Lord Voldemort. One puzzling scene though involved Snape (Dumbledore's trusted assistant). Did he really (re)turn himself to the Dark Lord as a Death Eater? Was Dumbledore's death a hoax staged to catch the Death Eaters off guard?

Clue: On the battle at the Lightning Struck Tower Dumbledore mentioned to Malfoy that there is an option for him to go back to the Good Side. That there is a way to make it appear that Malfoy and his parents been killed so Voldemort would not retaliate on them. Could this be also on the minds of Snape and Dumbledore? Hhhhmmm....

Well this is just a conjecture. I hope Rowling is not surfing the net to see what people are thinking about the death of the Wizard that could preempt the ending of her Potter septralogy.

Still not convinced? I found this site helpful indeed.

Comments welcome!

Friday, August 12, 2005

Prayer for a Sense of Humor

I'm feeling weird these days.
People everywhere are frowning.
Maybe it's because of the weather.
Or the traffic jam that causes delays.
But I have a sinking feeling that no one's
in the mood for fun and a little laughter.
Like the man on the street who used to
be so cheery. I saw him awhile ago sulking.
Or the lady who used to give me an ear to
ear grin. She did not even lift her face
to welcome me when I entered her store.
Kids and old people are irritable. I don't
know for what reason. Maybe, this too
will pass. But when? I do not know.
So I ask you today, please...
Give us a sense of humor.
Let someone crack joke, or do something
stupid. That would elicit laughter from us.
Let us forget, even if for a moment, our problems
and concerns.

Lord, I beg you. Give us a sense of humor
and I mean RIGHT NOW!

Looking For Each Other

I have been looking for you, World Honored One,
since I was a little child.
With my first breath, I heard your call,
and began to look for you, Blessed One.
I've walked so many perilous paths,
confronted so many dangers,
endured despair, fear, hopes, and memories.
I've trekked to the farthest regions, immense and wild,
sailed the vast oceans,
traversed the highest summits, lost among the clouds.
I've lain dead, utterly alone,
on the sands of ancient deserts.
I've held in my heart so many tears of stone.

Blessed One, I've dreamed of drinking dewdrops
that sparkle with the light of far-off galaxies.
I've left footprints on celestial mountains
and screamed from the depths of Avici Hell, exhausted, crazed with despair
because I was so hungry, so thirsty.
For millions of lifetimes,
I've longed to see you,
but didn't know where to look.
Yet, I've always felt your presence with a mysterious certainty.

I know that for thousands of lifetimes,
you and I have been one,
and the distance between us is only a flash of though.
Just yesterday while walking alone,
I saw the old path strewn with Autumn leaves,
and the brilliant moon, hanging over the gate,
suddenly appeared like the image of an old friend.
And all the stars confirmed that you were there!
All night, the rain of compassion continued to fall,
while lightning flashed through my window
and a great storm arose,
as if Earth and Sky were in battle.
Finally in me the rain stopped, the clouds parted.
The moon returned,
shining peacefully, calming Earth and Sky.
Looking into the mirror of the moon, suddenly
I saw myself,
and I saw you smiling, Blessed One.
How strange!

The moon of freedom has returned to me,
everything I thought I had lost.
From that moment on,
and in each moment that followed,
I saw that nothing had gone.
There is nothing that should be restored.
Every flower, every stone, and every leaf recognize me.
Wherever I turn, I see you smiling
the smile of no-birth and no-death.
The smile I received while looking at the mirror of the moon.
I see you sitting there, solid as Mount Meru,
calm as my own breath,
sitting as though no raging fire storm ever occurred,
sitting in complete peace and freedom.
At last I have found you, Blessed One,
and I have found myself.
There I sit.

The deep blue sky,
the snow-capped mountains painted against the horizon,
and the shining red sun sing with joy.
You, Blessed One, are my first love.
The love that is always present, always pure, and freshly new.
And I shall never need a love that will be called “last.”
You are the source of well-being flowing through numberless troubled lives,
the water from you spiritual stream always pure, as it was in the beginning.
You are the source of peace,
solidity, and inner freedom.
You are the Buddha, the Tathagata.
With my one-pointed mind
I vow to nourish your solidity and freedom in myself
so I can offer solidity and freedom to countless others,
now and forever.

- Thich Naht Hahn

From " Call me by my true names"

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Forgive My Brother, How Many Times?

Here again is one of Jesus' perplexing arithmetic. (Mt 18:21–19:1). He orders people to forgive their brothers not just seven times but seventy times seven times. One friend commented, if that is so, can I not forgive my brother when he has wronged me for the 491st time? (Recall that 70 x 7 is equal to 490). Again, if we use the arithmetic that our grade one teacher taught us it will get us nowhere near understanding Jesus' parable. Although a little Jewish mathematics will help us along the way.

Remember that for the Jews 7 is a perfect number. And so is 10. 7o then makes it a perfectly perfect number. Now if you multiply a perfectly perfect number with another perfect number which is 7 then you'll get a perfectly perfect perfect number. Confusing? Yes if we just stop at counting the number of times our brothers (or sisters) have wronged us and the number of times that we have had to endure the annoyance, irritation and humility of forgiving them.

What is Jesus really up to? He is telling us that there should be no end to our forgiveness. We must forgive our brothers each and every time they offend us. Yes, that means there should be no end to our forgiveness. As long as we live and we continue to be hurt, we must forgive.

Is this fair? Considering the number of times that we had been forgiven and we are being forgiven in each of our offenses against other people, against ourselves and against God, isn't 490 times too few and too limited? If we just forgive according to our own mathematics then there will come a time (or perhaps it had come already) when there will be no more room for forgiveness. That instead of extending understanding and love toward our erring brothers, we just keep keeping tabs on them and they on us.

Jesus can be very puzzling most times but He always makes sense, mathematically or otherwise.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

God's "Faulty" Logic

If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray,will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills and go in search of the stray? And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it than over the ninety-nine that did not stray. In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost.
Mt 18:1-5, 10, 12-14

Now this is one of the most interesting and intriguing biblical passages that I have come across with. Not only does this one defy logic but also it defies all attempts at rationalizing God's way of doing things. How in the world, for example, are we to explain to people that God truly loves us unconditionally when even He would all the way go to the extent of leaving behind all 99 good sheep just to look for us? What will the other 99 say upon seeing us being carried lovingly by the Shepherd? Will they not grind their teeth in jealousy if not in outright anger seeing us being pampered?

The "answer" to this question came to me one night when I was at home. My mother was waiting for our "lost" brother to come home. We, her children, knew how useless it was to wait and look for someone who didn't want to be found. But there she was, persistent, ready to leave her other sheep to make sure that the lost one was found, fed and taken care of. Only another mother can fathom that mystery, that ineffable bond that connects all mothers to their children no matter how bad or good they have been.

I understood a little of what the Shepherd is up to everytime He goes out in search of the lost and those who don't want to be found. I look at my mother and see, no motivation other than love, prompts her to patiently wait for her lost son. It is not that she loves more my lost brother than the rest of us beside her. She just knows who needs more loving and understanding and caring at that particular time among us her children. And that sensitive loving does not diminish in anyway her love for all of us. And I believe, that should the same thing happen to me--if I get lost along the way, she will be there to look and wait for me.

God's "faulty" logic has its use: to save the lost who would not otherwise be saved if God merely uses logic. Blaise Pascal once said: The heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Questions that you’ve always wanted to ask (but were afraid to do so)

When an atheist swears on a Bible before they testify in court do they have to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth since they don't believe in God?

Why is it when we talk to God we are praying, but when God talks to us we are put into the loony bin?

How do "do not walk on grass" signs get there?

When a store has double doors why do they only let you use one of them?

What if you were to ask a genie to grant you more than three wishes for one of you wishes?

Why do the numbers on phones go down while the numbers on calculators go up?

Are children who act in rated 'R' movies allowed to see them?

Can you make a candle out of your earwax?

Do illiterate people get the full effect of Alphabet soup?

Why don't the hairs on your arms get split ends?

Why is it that when you get out of a swimming pool, your urine is hotter when you use the restroom?

If a fork were made of gold would it still be considered silverware?

Do they have girl’s bathrooms in gay bars?

Why do companies offer you "free gifts?" Since when has a gift NOT been free?

Why are people allowed to put naked statues outside but why can't we run outside naked?

If a missing person sees their picture on a milk carton that offers a reward, would they get the money?

If you were a genie and a person asked you this wish, "I wish you would not grant me this wish" what would you do?

If I had my legs amputated, would I have to change my height and weight on my driver's license?

If you were under house arrest and you lived in a mobile home, wouldn’t you be able to go anywhere you want?

If scientists were ever going to figure out how to travel through time, wouldn’t we now be seeing people from the future?

If you don't pay your exorcist, do you get repossessed?


Saturday, August 06, 2005

What Have You Been Afraid Of, Lately?

I've heard of people afraid of almost anything in their lives: spiders, the dark, ghosts, nuclear war, germs in their food, of drowning, of dogs, etc. I know of people who are afraid of being afraid, in a constant fear that somehow, somewhere, someone is out to get them. Still others are afraid of being abandoned, neglected or unloved by their parents, spouse, children or friends.

No matter what we are afraid of, be they things seen or unseen, events or ideas, it just shows that we are one with the rest of humanity. But when our fears exceed the limits of normalcy: when they begin to paralyze us, then we really have a problem. We have to have someone to talk about it and put an end to it. God desires that we become fully alive. He doesn't want his children to be hiding and keeping to themselves while the rest of the world is out there in the sun having fun.

It's OK to be afraid. It's the excessive fear that is not OK. Even saints, like Peter, (Mt 17:1-9) can falter and lose faith and become very afraid. But their fear ends when they remember that Christ is always with them. We only become very afraid when we lose sight of Him. We become anxious of things when we fail to see that He is with us, ever-ready to extend His loving arms to reach out to us when we feel that a sea of anxiety is ready to engulf us.

Like Peter we get distracted by our worldly concerns that we tend to forget that Jesus walks with us on the topsy-turvy water of lives. And yet, when we cry out to Him in panic and in pain, we are surprised that He is really there. Just waiting for us...And He, a little hurt, gently chastises us: "Why did you doubt, you of little faith?"

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Veni Creator

Come, Holy Spirit,
bending or not bending the grasses,
appearing or not above our heads in a tongue of flame,
at hay harvest or when they plough in the orchards,
or when snow covers crippled firs in the Sierra Nevada.

I am only a human being: I need visible signs.
I tire easily, building the stairway of abstraction.
Many a time I asked, you know it well,
that the statue in church lift its hand, only once, just once, for me.
But I understand that signs must be human,
therefore, call one person, anywhere on earth,
not me-after all I have some decency-
and allow me, when I look at that person,
to marvel at you.

By: Czeslaw Milosz

The beauty of this poem lies in its simplicity and depth. Here a person begs God to show him a sign of His power. But he knows that God is much much more powerful than he can ever witness or understand. Despite this, he humbles himself into accepting even the littlest and faintest sign that would betray God’s presence.

Hunger Camp At Jaslo

Hunger Camp At Jaslo

Write it. Write. In ordinary ink
on ordinary paper: they were given no food,
they all died of hunger. "All. How many?
It's a big meadow. How much grass
for each one?" Write: I don't know.
History counts its skeletons in round numbers.
A thousand and one remains a thousand,
as though the one had never existed:
an imaginary embryo, an empty cradle,
an ABC never read,
air that laughs, cries, grows,
emptiness running down steps toward the garden,
nobody's place in the line.

We stand in the meadow where it became flesh,
and the meadow is silent as a false witness.
Sunny. Green. Nearby, a forest
with wood for chewing and water under the bark-
every day a full ration of the view
until you go blind. Overhead, a bird-
the shadow of its life-giving wings
brushed their lips. Their jaws opened.
Teeth clacked against teeth.
At night, the sickle moon shone in the sky
and reaped wheat for their bread.
Hands came floating from blackened icons,
empty cups in their fingers.
On a spit of barbed wire,
a man was turning.
They sang with their mouths full of earth.
"A lovely song of how war strikes straight
at the heart." Write: how silent.

Wislawa Szymborska

The poet is a Polish Nobel laureate for poetry.

Translated by Grazyna Drabik and Austin Flint