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

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Patience and Fr. Bob

Patience is the ability to endure waiting, delay, or provocation without becoming annoyed or upset, or to persevere calmly when faced with difficulties.Impatience is an opposite of patience or having a lack of patience. (from Wikipedia).

I will be graduating this Friday in UP. I love to tell my friends that I would be getting two MA degrees: one for Comparative Literature, the other for Patience. After a series of delays, postponements and last-minute changes within a four-year period I would be getting my diploma. And of course, to those who studied in UP or know UP system, patience is really a virtue that you should always carry with you.

But no, really, I'm a very impatient person. I hate situations wherein I have to wait for more than what I have planned for the day. I easily get annoyed by people who agree meeting me at a certain time but would show up 30 or 45 minutes late. I tend to walk out of conferences or seminars that do not start on time. I complain when movies do not commence on the advertised schedule. When I was a kid that I went home alone after attending Mass in ParaƱaque when my elder sister did not show up after ten minutes of appointed time and place. I had to walk some eight kilometers back home only to find that my sister was not home either. So I had to walk back to the church. I was five years old at that time and had to cross Bicutan interchange twice!

Long queues at ATM's, flight delays, bus drivers and conductors who take their sweet time at stop-overs, waiters who make me wait interminably really get me fuming mad. I am a very impatient person. But last week I was given a crash course on the value of waiting and being patient. I just came from Mall of Asia with my brother and his kids. I chanced upon Fr. Bob Hogan seated like a toddler on the stairs of Loyola House of Studies lobby. His hands were on the rail of the ramp for wheel-chair bound persons. His eyes, straight, focused on the driveway. He was obviously waiting for someone. I approached him and asked matter-of-factly,
"Father, are you okay?" To which he replied softly, "I sure am." Then I asked him the obvious, "You're waiting for someone to pick you up?"
"Yes, I am."
"How long have you been waiting here?"
"Well, she said she's going to pick me up at around 7:00." I looked at my watch and told him,
"But it's already 8:45, Father. Do you think she's still coming?"
"I'm not sure."
'But you're still going to wait."
"For a few more minutes."
"Really, you are that patient?"
"Well," he said without any hint of bragging, "I just spent an hour with a lady who had been lying sick in bed for 7 years. I think I can wait for a little more."
"That's incredible, I wish I had even half of your patience." To which he merely shrugged his shoulders as if saying, that's how my life's been, one of patient waiting.

I went to my room and promptly forgot about the incident. At 10 pm I called the porter and asked whether someone did pick Fr. Hogan up. The porter said no, nobody came. I asked when did Fr. Hogan leave his place, the porter replied, about past nine. I even forgot to ask the old man if he had eaten before his long wait with someone who never showed up.

Patience. I realize how easy it is for me to dismiss people who do not meet my expectations, who do not show up on time at the exact appointed place and hour. It's easy to label them as insensitive and chronic late-comers. Easier even to say that MY TIME is more important than theirs. Yet this one old Father showed me much more than I can learn from self-help books and recollections: that patient waiting is a divine act. Divine because it allows people to commit mistakes without judging them. It enables those who wait patiently to exercise their freedom, their generosity and understanding to be in the position of those who are being waited. Patience recognizes the need to let go of our desire to control many things including those that are really beyond our control.

And finally, patience recognizes too that in one time or another, people have been patient with me when I needed it most.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Gucci Gang Controversy and the Challenge of Spreading the Word of God

For days I have resisted the urge to type in Google's search box the phrase "Gucci Gang" for fear of stumbling into a "mindless and shallow" controversy that is currently rocking bloggers' world. I had been hearing stories spread from mouth to mouth about a certain Australian blogger who created a blog so he could exact vengeance (financial and psycho-emotional) against a high society member who did him wrong. The Australian threatens that until he is fully paid of the money owed him by his erstwhile lover and now mortal enemy, he shall continue to write revealing stories about the latter and his cohorts now known as the Gucci Gang. Local and international papers carried stories about the so called members of this gang and the things they supposedly do because they could afford to do it (and all because they are "high and mighty," says one blog commenter).

A few days ago, I threw caution to the wind and gave in to the itch of peeking into the lives of the most talked about personalities in the whole world wide web. From the moment I read the first entry of Brian Gorrell's blog I knew I was taken completely like an Earthling whisked into a hitherto unknown yet fascinating and fearful galaxy. Fascinating because the blog entries are written in flowing prose with the cadence of poetry while the stories read like the latest in Korean soap opera. Fearful because I have not read anything like it--the foulest and most irate words ever written against persons enough to make a grown man weep with shame.

In less than thirty minutes I was introduced to a world of intrigue involving fame, fortune, drugs and betrayal. I went back to the site again and again sniffing for more. The accusations and counter-accusations have yet to be proven in proper courts but what frightens and frustrates me is the possibility that those who are involved in the controversy and the people who want to get a slice of them may have been people we attended school with, taught, learned and went to church with. Judging by the flawless command of English written as reaction and responses by those who visited the blog, we could assume that they are 1) young men and women who attended or finished college, 2) have work in urban centers as they are familiar with the trendy bars and hang-out places, 3) know a thing or two about the members of the group and 4) are willing to spill the beans on those who have time to listen.

Mr. Gorrell was catapulted to a celebrity status when his blog clogged internet lines that Google initially contemplated shutting his site down to prevent traffic. His overnight success earned him a place in Wikipedia and all of a sudden CNN and other international media outfits are after him. Now he can talk all he wants and he has the world all ears. How easy it is for him (and for any other person who has the guts and gumption to tell all) to get willing and listening ears.

I wish the same was true with people who write and speak about the Word of God--that they get a million hits each time they post something about their reflection. Luckily we have a few people who continue to write about God and things of God despite the meager number of visitors to their sites. I was reminded of that story about a boy who learned that a dam in his village was about to burst. When everyone was told about the impending disaster and was preparing to leave, they boy remained, he stuck his finger in the crack of the dam, hoping that doing so would buy precious time for his villagers to escape.

Such is the challenge awaiting those few souls who preach the Word of God "in season and out of season."