yesterday, i was witness to one of the most sorrowful scenes in human life. burials.
well, to be more exact, it was a burial mass at a memorial chapel. i was requested to play the keyboards by a priest-friend who is a relative of the deceased. while it was certainly not my first funeral mass, what made the event more poignant and more moving was the fact that the little girl was only three years old and that the mother was due to give birth to her 3rd child anytime soon. that was why we weren't surprised to see an ambulance outside the chapel. the circumstances of the child's death are as to this writing still unknown. from what i gathered, the child was brought to the hospital last thursday having shown symptoms similar to having a flu. after a while she was discharged. by friday evening, she died.
during the part when family and friends were allowed to view the casket before it was brought to the cemetery, the entire room was in tears. i was particularly moved by the sight of the parents crying and embracing each other, trying to lend whatever strength they could muster to each other. i remembered having heard from an old priest that burying one's children is one of the greatest sorrows in being a parent. it is usually expected that children bury their parents and not the other way around.
i guess what really moved me about the event was the realization that had i been in the situation of the priest, i wouldn't know of anything to say to ease their pain. i realized that none of the principles i so deliriously studied in philosophy and theology would matter. if a person went over to the family and said, "hey, we're christians. we believe in the resurrection. so we have to believe that your child is in heaven. whatever pain your experiencing right now is caused by your imperfection, by your clinging to her. she was never yours anyway. she belongs to God", that person isn't a theologian. that person is a jerk. while what the hypothetical do-gooder said complies with every theological principle i know, the expression and timing is certainly most inappropriate and worse, inhumane.
i realized that there are times when even as theologians or students of theology, we are not required to always have something to say. theology is not about speaking but about listening. listening to God who speaks in the principles. listening to God in the history of the church. listening to God in the events of our lives.
listening involves being quiet.
and sometimes, it involves feeling pain in our hearts, and letting our tears flow. as i did while playing the keyboards during that funeral mass. i realized that i didn't have to have words to say to comfort the relatives of the deceased. they were good christians. they knew their theology. one just had to assure them that their tears were not uncalled for. that their grief was not misunderstood. that their sorrow was not beyond understanding. that their tragedy was not above compassion.
that their experience was not unheard of.more than anything, our God is a God who listens to our lives. to our experiences and yes, sometimes, to our grief.everyday, we are called to do the same.
ds pic was taken @d mirador jesuit villa in baguio where we just had our 5day discernment retreat. as u can see, the fog is partly covering one of the wings of the villa. everyday, the entire hill would be shrouded in fog during lunch time. it almost seemed as if the entire villa was transported to a never-where. allow me to share with you the following poem entitled balabal (101705, 12:25pm).balabalumaahon ang mga ulapsa balikat ng bundokniyayakap ang mga kabahayanat mga puno, hanggang tuktokinaanod, aking pananawng umaalpas na katingkaranniyayakap, aking pusonitong sumasaating kalwalhatian
yesterday was another usual day.by usual, i mean another day replete with unusual-ness. first, i was nursing a fever until lunch time due to my over eager molars. their eruption started during my final advanced metaphysics class [i guess, like me, they couldn't wait to get out ;)]. second, i missed my payatas youth choir for the second week in a row! thirdly, it was my first time in 10 years to have ever missed the la naval procession. let me focus on this third movement of the day.
the la naval feast is one of the most anticipated marian feasts of the year. if one were dominican as i was for eight years, it was the apex of the first semester. la naval represented so many things -- won battles, timeheld traditions, pomp and grandeur, swarming devotees and angelic choirs. since it was a fixed celebration on the second sunday of october, it meant that it either concluded or heralded the beginning of the final exams in ust or pdcis. for dominicans, it is also a day of gathering. most priests and brothers from all over the country would congregate at sto. domingo church in q.c. to pay their respects and sing in the majestic, "Despedia ala Virgen." even when i left dominican formation three years ago, i still attended the last two la naval feasts since i was working in ust high school, a dominican institution.
yesterday, i intentionally missed the feast. i had to move on.
but moving on is not, as some would suppose, moving on in forgetfulness and hollowness. nay, a true moving on is one done in remembrance and gratitude. for past times. for present memories. for forthcoming hopes.
thankfully, i was not the only one moving on. from the many text msgs i received yesterday, one stood out. amidst the numerous text msgs of surprise, disapproval, bewilderment and curiosity regarding my decision to enter the jesuit pre-novitiate, it was my former calamba prior's txt msg that etched itself forever in my heart. after inquiring if it was true that i was under sj formation and after verifying if i was happy, he ended our correspondence by saying, "i'm happy ur happy pare. i will not love you less." it was a message worth a million salve's, an outpouring of compassion sung in a billion gloria's.
such is the victory of la naval. hers is not only the victory over the colonial seas, but the victory over our churning hearts.
viva la virgen!
one begins where one ends. each moment is an ending of a past beginning. each moment is a beginning of a future ending.this blog is something of beginnings and endings and the meaningful moments in between. with this blog, i am ending an era of self-concealment. i am trying to unfold myself to the world that has always unfolded around me. without me. within me. it is revelatory of my own moments, my own beginnings and endings as i continuously journey in life. for life. through moments like these. for moments like these.for whether we move through life with a nostalgia for remembrance or a predilection for anticipation, what is important is that we are. we exist.in moments.through moments.for moments.one ends where one begins.