Friday, December 9, 2011

Eternal Embrace

When I was 3 and Papa arrived home from work, I'd run to him he'd lift me up & I would give him a welcome hug as he gave me my favorite Hershey or Kitkat bar.
When I was 9 and tripped and fell down, he'd lift me up and tend to my scraped knee and embrace me. Countless times in my teens and adult life he was my coach, counselor and friend...always there guiding, loving and helping...and always calling out "Chemari ko".
Before he was 83 with a disabling muscular dystrophy and I was 43 or so, I'd lift him up as he was too weak to lift himself. As our arms were interlocked, we would joke and do the waltz.
Now that he's gone, I can only think of fond memories of him lifting and embracing me in early childhood and I lifting and embracing him in his old age.
Such is the cycle of life. One day, he will once again lift me up, give me a warm welcoming embrace and a big smile and I would likely do the same..
..this time in Our Father's eternal home. This I look forward to. Happy Birthday .. Papa ko!
May you all feel his warm embrace today...Papa ko's and Papa Dios'

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Do Animals Recognize the Presence of God?

I wake up to the a-hink-a-honk-a-hink-a-honk sound of hundreds of Canadian snow geese flying over our Richmond backyard first north-eastward then back to the fields then north-westward then back again to the fields to feed. It appears they are on a ‘military-air force’ exercise routine or perhaps just a morning exercise. But an intriguing question crosses my mind and perplexes me: “Do animals or non-rational creatures recognize the presence of God?” Why this unusual question makes me stop, reflect and write about it- I don’t know. All I know is I’ve made the time this fine chilly Saturday morn to think about it. Where it will lead to, the fingers on the keyboard will decide.

As I reflect on my experience and the experience of animal lovers like St. Francis, we know we can see God’s love and goodness in them. We know that nature and natural creatures leave tracks that lead to God. We know that Jesus loved ALL his creation because He created them and “it was all good”. We know that a dog (spelled backwards is God) has unconditional love for its owner. But does the dog recognize that there is a God and do they see it, feel it, and recognize it? For those of us that truly believe in God, His presence is recognized within ourselves, others, nature, events, science and in scripture. We know Him and learn to love him. And we show it by expressing ourselves through art, music, literature, our work and worship. We show it by living according to His will and loving others. But how about the dog—a creature with no reason, no intelligence nor logical capability? It lives by instinct, survives without worry and is free in many ways. Does it have moments where it stops in its daily routine to think and pray in thanksgiving or curse the heavens because being in this world is simply a suffering and a tragedy?
The fact that birds simply roam freely, without worry or fuss may perhaps make us think that they ‘simply know’ there is a God. It appears to be a ‘given’ or a ‘recognized fact’ to them. There is no ‘rational’ questioning or doubting. Their existence is a mere reflection of their creator. There is no philosophical reflection like I’m doing right now. They just know. They just live and let go according to their nature, according to their purpose and according to whatever leads them thru the skies, the valleys, the seas and the fields. There is an implicit ‘trust’ in the way things are and that  they will be taken care of and things and events will fall into place. Perhaps this is the lesson I should be learning this morning. Perhaps I should be asking a different question instead: “Do human beings recognize the presence of God?”

Do we see His presence in the deforestation of our once beautiful mountains and in our flooded cities? Do we see His presence in the oil spills in the gulf of Mexico and the dearth of sea food? Or in the ‘secularized schools’ prohibiting prayer because it is not politically correct and the senseless campus shootings? Do we see God’s presence in the abuse in government, the rape and plunder of financial systems and the peoples that will bear the hunger and debt? These are all human machinations - of people with reason, logic and intelligence. Are we any ‘lower’ than the ‘lowly’, ‘mindless’ and ‘irrational’ creatures? Can we get any lower than this?

In conclusion, more questions arise. If animals do not have rational capability, how come they do things so naturally and instinctively and with more 'intelligence' and 'heart'? We on the other hand have to rely on reason and logic. If there is a toy and toy maker, the toy owner should follow the toy instructions manual lest the owner breaks it accidentally or does not get the full benefits of the toy and the features they were meant to deliver. Do we follow the ‘instruction manual’ meant for us human beings? The Canadian geese soaring hither and yonder, instinctively know the presence of God. We human beings on the other hand tend to question everything and everyone. We rationalize our way out of what we implicitly know. Sometimes our greed and ego get the better of us and we do not recognize our true place in this world. We do  not recognize our creator. And it is all reflected in our environment, our societies and families. Perhaps the profoundest lesson this morning is ‘trust’ as the birds have it – without doubt, reason or logic. But unlike the birds, we can increase and magnify this trust by continuously reading and living the Word.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Let there be Peace...

Story of Giantin at 5

It's funny how music can trigger memories from the past. Tonight we sang "Let there be peace on earth" at 6:30 pm mass. It never fails to bring me back 20 years ago when this funny and inspiring event transpired.

It was a relaxing drive one Saturday morning on our family weekend trek to Whistler. We were going through the picturesque Sea to Sky route in our MPV van excited about the prospects of our mountain vacation in Whistler Village.There was dad driving with grandpa Papa beside him discussing about the days plans in the mountains, the road conditions and the weather . There was mom on the second row with grandma Mama talking and chatting about the shopping areas and restaurants to go to in our charming vacation village. Everybody was talking and discussing, radio music was playing, noise was just a buzzing all over the car and outside the car. Giantin, our 5 year old was on the third and last row in his car seat calm and probably enduring all this buzz around him... on this 2 hour ardous journey. Giantin our normally talkative and active boy was strapped in the back like a prisoner silenced by our chatters. He was probably feeling left out and ignored in his car seat like he was in his 'favorite time out corner'. He finally starts his "Are we there yet?" replays. Argument with mom ensues and verbal battle begins. The exchange persists during this seemingly endless ride and the chatter turns to whining and noise. Then silence again. Suddenly out of the blues, as if an angel whispered to his ear, the normally mischievous boy of 5 starts singing the church hymn.." Let there be peace on earth ....." The chatter dies down and the other family members are struck silent, surprised and probably awed by the timeliness of his entry.".. the peace that was meant to be...with God as our father.....brothers all are we." "Let me walk with my perfect harmony.."As he goes through the verses proudly, all are perplexed yet attentive as if gold was flowing from the boy's mouth. Then his finale line..."Let there be peace on earth and ....let it begin with me." That was the clincher, I thought! Our impish boy delivering this line? No way! This child doesn't even know nor deeply understand what he's singing about. The hush was followed by an applause from all . Giantin smiles triumphantly knowing his impromptu spiel successfully silenced all of us...and apeaced the mom. Such instinctive wit and genius coming from this little boy? It was a coup of coups. Once again our naughty boy triumphs as he disarms us all in his witting and unwitting song!

Lesson learned: Angels do speak through the mouth of babes - no matter how impish the medium.