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, January 31, 2006

In the Father's Hands

When I was a Jesuit novice I saw a most touching scene in a hospital that made me realize one important thing about God the Father. In the pedia ward of the Philippine General Hospital, a father and son caught my attention. The son, about 7 or 8 years old, was gasping for breath. The deep and sudden rise and fall of his chest indicated that he was in pain and great difficulty. The father was helping him breathe through the use of an Ambo bag as there was no available respirator for the son. The father was a picture of serenity and assurance.

With every gasp, the father would pump air into his son's lungs, thereby assuring his son's breathing. Any person knew that it was not enough to do that but at that time, the father was the only thing that was keeping the son alive. Yet I saw no panic nor heard any complaints from the father. He would just quietly pump oxygen into his son's mouth. From time to time, he would pause to wipe the sweat from his brow and his son's forehead. Then he would bend down to kiss his son's cheeks or utter words of encouragement to him (though I had know way of knowing for sure what he really said).

I never knew what happened to the son, whether he survived or not. I never learned what happened to the father either but one thing I knew was that the Father showed his son the best act of love that he could do. His son needed him by his side, and he was there. He never left the son during the time that he needed him most. He didn't mind the exhaustion of having to pump oxygen into his son's mouth again and again even though he wasn't sure whether his son would survive. At that moment, only one thing was in his mind: I have to be with my son because he needs me.

Whenever I reflect on this scene I could not help but cry. I know that God is exactly like that untiring father in the pedia ward: He never leaves our side especially when we are in great pain or loss. The son in the hospital might not even know that his father was by his side during his most difficult times. But his father was there nonetheless, like our own Father in Heaven. There have been many times (I'm sure you and I have) when we think that we have been abandoned or rejected by God the Father. Sometimes, all things seem to convince us that He has left us, but He is there. Always. If a father here on earth could show much love to his suffering son, how much more will our Father in Heaven show His love for us? God the Father will never forsake us or leave us. He is with us all the time. Only we have to believe in this so that we can feel His wonderful love for all of us...

Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you. See, upon the palms of my hands I have written your name; your walls are ever before me. Isaiah 49:15-15

Thursday, January 19, 2006

The Need to Pray

I miss my friends at the Cistercian Monastery in the island of Guimaras (in the province of Panay, Philippines). They are about 10 to 12 monks whose mission in life is to pray and work. They start their day at 3 am to pray together as a community. I had an opportunity to join them in some occasions. It was truly a marvelous experience. It seemed that everything stopped inside their chapel--no wind, no howling of dogs or noise in the street. Even Time seemed to be respecting the monks' time. You can almost hear monks' cassocks brushing against the cold pavement of the chapel.

These monks have the most peaceful faces I have ever seen. It is as if they are in perpetual trance in contemplating something Beautiful. Their manner of speech is gentle and unhurried. Even their actions are deliberately slow. And they are a happy group. Once every end of the month, I went there when I was still teaching in Iloilo and I would feel refreshed at the end of my stay.

Prayer is such a luxury these days. A lot of people I have encountered have expressed genuine desire to pray, not in the hurried and formulaic way but in quality-time kind of prayer. They just lack time, they invariably say. Someone said that if you find it difficult to find time to pray, then you are really not giving yourself time to pray. Another one said that it's a waste of time to pray. I know of someone who says that prayer actually saves time. By praying at the beginning of the day you can begin discussing with God things that concern you. Then you can identify which of these are really important, that is, will deepen your relationship with Him and with others.

I wish I can visit my friends again. =)

Sunday, January 15, 2006

In His Time (He Makes All Things Beautiful)

A fellow scholastic's niece, Bea, gave me an unexpected gift last Christmas. It was a picture of the Crucifixion encased in a gilded glass frame. It's very ordinary. Nothing remarkable about it except that it has an analog clock inside. I haven't put battery on it so I can't say whether the clock will work. I kept it on my bedside table for several days. It was only this morning when I picked it up again that a flash of intuition, a sudden insight hit me like a lightning bolt. Then I heard a song I used to sing when things don't seem to go according to plan.

In His time, He makes all things beautiful
In His time, He makes all things beautiful
Lord, please show me everyday
That You'll do just what You say

In Your time, in Your time
You make all things beautiful
In Your time, In Your time

I'm not sure whether I got the lyrics right but I sure got the message.
God is not only God of Time but also Timing. When it seems that nothing is going right or things take infinitely long to take shape according to my wishes and desires, then maybe I have not allowed Him to be God of Time. I make plans, they are often thwarted by things beyond my control. I build things, only to see them destroyed. I struggle to keep something from falling apart to later on see it crumbling before my very eyes.

So my fervent wish is to remember, remember that He is the God of Time and in due season He shall restore things to their proper places. He shall make all things beautiful, in His time. May I not be blind in appreciating that in the seemingly impossible, God makes miracles.

Monday, January 09, 2006

The Road Without End

Take a look at this picture. What do you see? Is it the end of the road or the end of a long journey? Is the traveller on his way home or on to a new home? Are those clouds sinister or hopeful? What feelings are evoked in you as you look closely at this picture?

This new year is a perfect occasion to go back to your life and see where you're going, how many friends have you met along the way, what places you've been to, what memories do you cherish and which people have journeyed with you.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Something to Think About

1. God wants spiritual fruit, not religious nuts.
2. Dear God, I have a problem, it's me.
3. Growing old is inevitable . growing UP is optional.
4. There is no key to happiness. The door is always open.
5. Silence is often misinterpreted but never misquoted.
6. Do the math. count your blessings.
7. Faith is the ability to not panic.
8. Laugh every day, it's like inner jogging.
9. If you worry, you didn't pray. If you pray, don't worry.
10. As a child of God, prayer is kind of like calling home everyday.
11. Blessed are the flexible for they shall not be bent out of shape.
12. The most important things in your house are the people.
13. When we get tangled up in our problems, be still.
God wants us to be still so He can untangle the knot.
14. A grudge is a heavy thing to carry.
15. He who dies with the most toys is still dead.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Prayer for a New Year

May you get a clean bill of health from your dentist, your cardiologist, your gastro-enterologist, your urologist, your proctologist, your podiatrist, your psychiatrist, your plumber and the I.R.S.

May your hair, your teeth, your face-lift, your abs and your stocks not fall; and may your blood pressure, your triglycerides, your cholesterol, your white blood count and your mortgage interest not rise.

May New Year's Eve find you seated around the table, together with your beloved family and cherished friends. May you find the food better, the environment quieter, the cost much cheaper, and the pleasure much more fulfilling than anything else you might ordinarily do that night.

May what you see in the mirror delight you, and what others see in you delight them. May someone love you enough to forgive your faults, be blind to your blemishes, and tell the world about your virtues.

May the telemarketers wait to make their sales calls until you finish dinner, may the commercials on TV not be louder than the program you have been watching, and may your check book and your budget balance - and include generous amounts for charity.

May you remember to say "I love you" at least once a day to your spouse, your child, your parent, your siblings; but not to your secretary, your nurse, your masseuse, your hairdresser or your tennis instructor.

And may we live in a world at peace and with the awareness of God's love in every sunset, every flower's unfolding petals, every baby's smile, every lover's kiss, and every wonderful, astonishing, miraculous beat of our heart.

~Extracts from a Prayer by Rabbi Jacob Pressman~

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Cleaning My Room, Freeing My Soul

I cleaned my room this morning, just in time for the New Year. While taking out trash from my cabinets, wardrobe and study desk I found things which I no longer needed. There were headache tablets and pain capsules that were hidden behind a pile of paper in my desk. I noticed that most of them had expired a few months ago. I saw some of the pictures I considered lost tucked between a book that I had not finished reading. There were receipts of all sorts tacked on my cork board. I found two message slips bearing a message to return call to a friend. I remember not making that call. There were toys and stickers that were saved some months ago which I forgot to give away last Christmas. A Christmas card given to me last year went unanswered.

I also cleaned my glass windows of dust and grime. I realized that clean windows provide a much better view of the outside world and ushers fresh air into my room. I emptied my soap dish of melted soap. I threw away plastic bags and gift wrappers and used paper. I scrubbed the floor and found some coins nestled on a corner spot. I arranged my books and noticed that some of them I have not even opened.

Cleaning a room can be a spiritual experience. It mirrors cleaning an inner part of you that houses your soul. As I look back at the year that has been I notice things that used to cure me of many pains and ailments but when I insist on using them now might poison and kill me. I remember people who were there during my most troublesome times yet I have not even acknowledged their presence or thanked them. I also see things that preoccupied me which were not really that important. I remember places I visited and people I've encountered that gave me joy and sometimes deep sadness. I remember people who needed my help which I promptly ignored because I was too busy with something else. I remember occasions wherein I held back on giving joy to others or failed to allow myself to enjoy the present because I had been so worried by countless trivial matters. I see things more clearly now that my soul can roam freely unencumbered by many concerns.

I wish that this New Year will give me a new reason to continue to hope, to love, to give, to sacrifice.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

New Year, New Beginning

As I begin the new year, I look back at the year that has been and ask the following questions:

1) What have been my sources of consolations last year?
2) What made me most happy?
3) What made me cry and sad?
4) Which persons figured prominently in my life? And why?
5) What events made me grateful to God and to others?
6) Which experiences are most hurting for me?
7) Which experiences are most healing?
8) How many persons have I touched and introduced to Christ?
9) How many people have I hurt, intentionally and unintentionally?
10) Which people said that I was a blessing to them?
11) Which people said that I had made their lives more difficult?
12) How did Christ figure in my life last year?
13) How have I been more loving, more giving, more self-sacrificing?
14) What areas in my life need further growth and healing?
15) What triumphs must I celebrate this year?
16) What defeats must I go back to, analyze and learn from?
17) If there's one thing that I'd like to change, improve in myself, what would it be?
18) How would I like to remember this present year next year?

Promises to Keep

I know that I have not been good at keeping New Year's resolutions. I'm writing a new list anyway, hoping that I might be able to fulfill two or three of them.

1) Go back to the gym and include swimming in the routine.
2) Read the 100 books I will be winning in Powerbooks raffle promo, in a year.
3) Finish two short-stories for a local literary contest.
4) Compose 20 poems.
5) Submit my thesis on time.
6) Intensify my prayer life.
7) Go out with friends more often.
8) Take time to visit family.
9) Clean my room on a regular basis.
10) Revive my interest in gardening.