Morning prayers —
wherever they may find you,
on my end, I pray
that you have a good day
and that you find enlightenment always.
That He keep you safe and happy.
I had been drafting this blogpost many times over in my head yesterday, but my Wednesday ended with jetlag catching up with me again around dinnertime when I had come back to San Juan finally. I skipped the meal since I had an early dinner/merienda with my dear friend Ces at good old reliable Max’s Fried Chicken at Robinson’s and had dozed off, waking up closer to midnight when all the lights were out and I was the only one up. I managed to log on and post although not here, in another blog, and work intervened as always. (Took back yet another half day as I was still e-mailing work related matters up to 6am Manila time!)
I left the house with only two things on my schedule — dropping off some padala and going to Baclaran church to pray, I was going to play the rest of the day by ear. I had gone with my sister, Offie, who was on her way to Makati anyway, and after getting off at Greenbelt I, we walked together to the Greenbelt chapel so she could request for a mass to be said.
I haven’t been here in ages although I’ve always stopped in Makati every trip home, save for that two week stretch when I went home to take care of Dad in the hospital. I sat at the back pew and just “listened”. There were too many things I wanted to ask from heaven that I didn’t know quite where to begin. So I purposely just sat, and prayed in silence. Prayer, after all, isn’t always about us just doing the talking — prayer, I have been taught, is also us listening to what He has to say. And in the midst of all the turmoil in our hearts, sometimes the most calming is when we just lift it all up in one big package and just “be”.
This Church has been a place of prayer for me the many years I spent around Makati — from being a law student to being one of its working denizens before I moved to the big apple. I have prayed here with friends and family. Memories of those times I prayed here still come even as I walk past the church — but now that I sat in it and was actually praying, not just looking, tears came to my eyes as I remembered. It felt good to be back.. it felt like home.
Prayer moves me in different ways these days.. maybe it’s because of all the things going on in my mind and heart. It helps anchor me to keep hope and optimism in my heart, no matter what. No matter how dark my thoughts may get, I keep clinging to the smallest iota of the possibility that my prayer will be answered in the way I wish it to be.
I got on a cab and dropped off a bag. I knew the person I needed to see wouldn’t be there, so I hied off and went to my next destination. I headed for Baclaran Church.
My mother taught me about Baclaran early on when she asked me to tag along with her on Wednesdays when there was no school. I learned the songs and recited the prayers in rote fashion per the novena booklet she always lent me. I’d sit in the pew waiting for her to finish walking on her knees from the doorway to the altar, something I would find doing myself many years later for my own personal pain and intentions. By the time that it was my turn to pray the novena for my own intentions, I would either have the driver bring me over, commute from work myself, or much later, go and meet up with Fe who is a devotee herself.
I went through the motions of actually writing petition letters, too, and I can actually say that most times, my prayers were granted even before my 9 Wednesdays were up, converting my novena request to a novena of Thanksgiving midway. When I moved to the US, I had my novena booklet handy and continued to pray even if I no longer had a shrine to go to. It’s just that I haven’t prayed the novena in a while.
This Wednesday, I started anew. I got off the cab and walked into the church, finding many vacant pews because I caught the midday break between novena masses. I took my seat and started to pray. Even before the novena proper had started and I just sat there, I felt a knot forming in my stomach and the tears starting to well up. It was a struggle to keep my composure through the prayers and the hymns, but I managed to pull through. The multitude of people praying together and singing together was a miracle happening in the now that touches me in a very profound way each time.
I looked around and saw the different faces of faith and devotion. There were young and old alike, couples, families with the mothers and fathers carrying their babies and toddlers, a father cradling a his son afflicted with hydrocephalus. I suddenly felt like my petitions would probably get lost in this sea of pleas. At the same time, I wondered what their hearts were praying for — and I had to remind myself everything had to be put into their proper perspective, as what might not be a problem to me might mean life or death for another. My pains would probably pale in comparison to some of the burdens they carry. Then I got reminded that He hears, and He listens — He answers in ways that are sometimes in a voice different from what we hear, but He answers our prayers.
It was emotionally heavy but I felt relieved after the novena — as if I had unburdened my soul. Although the pain remained, I felt like I was carrying it with someone holding my hand. I know He heard. Whatever has happened and is happening, it has happened and is happening for a reason. It’s not always easy to discern the reason behind all that we see or feel. It’s a matter of trusting in him.
Lou says, IF YOU ASK YOUR PRAYERS WILL BE ANSWERED.
Shay assured me, … YOU HAVE ALWAYS PUT GOD FIRST, SO EVERYTHING WOULD FALL INTO PLACE IN HIS TIME.”
Bernie suddenly popped up and said “GOD BROUGH YOU TO MIND TODAY… WHEN I THOUGHT OF VISITING YOUR BLOG. I WILL BE PRAYING FOR YOU AND WILL OFFER MY ROSARY FOR YOU TODAY. TAKE CARE!!! GOD WILL DEFINITELY SEE YOU THROUGH! “
My day of prayer didn’t end there, though. I had scheduled my dear friend, Ces, the one with that “direct line to heaven” for the afternoon into evening. Ces has been a dear, dear friend since high school. One of those older sister types who stay your forever “Ate” through the years. I have always looked to her as a spiritual adviser and a friend. Strangely, she denies the direct line because she says everyone has one to God. That’s Ces, ever humble.
I have been blessed with such great people in my life, that I have felt only acceptance and love even during my weakest moments. When others would condemn my thoughts or actions and think I have done wrong, Ces will listen and dish out advice without a shred of judgment. I told her I know I’m given only as much as I can handle, she says she prays for the reverse, that she be not given what she cannot. I want to imbibe her complete faith and trust that God will be there, because sometimes, I cannot help but wonder. Friends like Ces, and Lou, Bernie and Shay remind me that He is and will always be.