How are you?

(I had drafted this post yesterday morning and had erased and rewritten the post after midnight earlier but the time stamp and order here got messed up… So I’m reposting.)

There are days when a simple question, heartfelt and not conversational — a genuine inquiry into how you are doing — can make a whole difference as you end what has been a challenging day. BFF Do wrote that simple query in a short e-mail from work.  She is 16 hours ahead of me.  We can hardly “catch” each other on regular weekends.

Mental telepathy, I told her.  But I was too tired to answer the question.  She understood.  It’s like a question that seeks to reassure.  I am truly blessed.

I really should be sleeping.  I have an early start tomorrow as the boy has a unit test.  We did our review tonight, but it doesn’t hurt to do more practice.  Plus, we will walk to school together.  I’m on solo duty again.  I cooked chicken for my mother-in-law, cooled it down and put it in individual containers and stashed them in my fridge.  I even managed to bake a polymer clay experiment which needs a whole lot of work but which was productive because I know now where I need to do a work around.

And tomorrow is another day. 

I hope I find the strength not to butt heads with those who are not worth the trouble at work.  It is, after all, just work.  I hope tomorrow will be sunnier.  I am not optimistic that will be the case, but hey, I might wish the sun back. 

A happy thought — sunshine.  =)

And more sunshine… just got a text from my sister.. “Love you, too, sis..”  I can never have too much love.  Today I am being showered by it.  And like I wrote this morning, I have constantly felt “His” presence — through it all, He was there with me.  Maybe that’s why I’m still up. 

Thank you, Lord, for another day.

Your Presence in my day

Another DayI just missed two buses and I am certain one of them was what I needed to get to work. It doesn’t help that they hit the bus stop when I was still too far away that it wouldn’t have mattered if I broke into a sprint to catch them. I let it go. I was praying.

“Lord, help us to feel YOUR presence in our day today.”

I had to pause after that line when I realized that we often get caught up in our day-to-day existence and everything becomes routine and we forget He is there with us. I prayed that others feel His presence, too. At a time when many feel alone in their struggles or when help from the usual sources doesn’t appear to be forthcoming, we often forget the one presence that is guaranteed — come what may. I say that because I believe. I, too, have to remind myself to acknowledge He is there, as I sometimes fall prey to forgetting or taking it forgranted that He is.

More so during those times when I feel anger or desperation crawling out of me, I just close my eyes, breathe deeply, utter a prayer or a silent cry for help — and I let it go. When no one else can hear me cry out, I know He does.

Another Monday, another week — the world seems a little more peaceful today. At least from my point of view, that is. The sun seems to be feeling lazy and has been hiding behind the rain clouds. Perhaps it’s because I started the day feeling assured I am not alone. Despite the grey, I see the sunshine even when I can’t feel it on my face.

I know He is here with me as He is there with you, holding your hand, Sis.

Solace in Prayer

It was one of those days when my energy seemed to have ebbed early on in the day. A heaviness enveloped my heart although there was nothing particularly unsettling to have brought on the feeling. Perhaps it’s because spring seems to have changed its mind and the brutal cold winds hit me hard when I walked the boy to school and waited at a no-shed stop afterwards to finally get to work. I fell asleep through most of the commute. That one, I had an explanation for. My alzheimer/dementia sick mother-in-law had been puttering around the house and roused me at 2:30am. By the time I got up, she had gone back to bed. For the most part, I try to ignore her. After feeding her breakfast this morning, I focused my energies on the boy.

We no longer walk hand-in-hand although he reaches out for mine when we cross driveways and streets, but he let’s go once we’ve made it to the other side. He stops a few meters from the school entrance to kiss me and ask for a hug, but refuses to do the same where he knows the other kids will see. And to think he’s only turning nine.

Somehow more than physical exhaustion took me over. Again, a heaviness of the heart. I tell myself to “let it go”.  That thought kept resonating in my head over and over again throughout the day.  The cold and gloom outside didn’t quite help.   But I made it through the end of the day.

I don’t know why but I found myself searching for this favorite prayer/poem of mine penned by Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore.  I finally found it minutes before I was to shut down my system and just walk out.  One of these days, I will render this in my own handwritten lettering.  I’ve always found inspiration and strength in these words:

Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers
but to be fearless in facing them.

Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain
but for the heart to conquer it.

Let me not look for allies in life’s battlefield
but to my own strength.

Let me not crave in anxious fear to be saved
but hope for the patience to win my freedom.

Grant that I may not be a coward,
feeling Your mercy in my success alone;

But let me find the the grasp of Your hand in my failure.

A Day of Prayer

5:30am:

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.

Greenbelt Church

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.