In my prayers

I had started writing a post over the weekend on a totally different topic when, after three paragraphs or blocks, I decided to hit delete and start again from scratch. I’m listening to Himig Heswita as I’m drafting this — and I guess that’s what sort of brought me to a more spiritual slant. (Eternally grateful to the Jesuits for their gift of knowledge in law school and music.)

Sometimes I think about writing and as much as I am dying to put the words to paper, I resist and postpone it for when I can sit and focus on it. That usually means it never gets written — because time has been precious and hard to find. Even blogging has been quite the struggle for me. I have always said how I wish I could write (and read) more. There just isn’t enough time to write all that I want to say.

Just like today. I wanted to write about a conversation over sushi and sashimi last Friday, and how I left that luncheon not just with a happy tummy. I walked back to my perch with a heart that was full. I am struggling with the words to put that together in a coherent post for now— so it’ll have to wait another day.

Then I remembered the husband and wife T and T and prayers. (Reminder to self: letter to T and T. Or even just T. )

Today I write about prayer. I start praying when I walk out the door, as I make my way to the bus stop (which is approximately 6 minutes away) at a leisurely pace. What do I pray for? I reaffirm my faith with The Creed, and then I follow a simple combination of prayers. I used to pray the rosary as I walked and ended it on the bus, but my prayer life has not been as devoted as that in years. Walking out the door with the son has also meant postponing the prayer for when I walk into the church on 43rd, because I end up talking him through what the day will be like. There are times when I put the earphones on and I start listening to the God Minute and I tell him I’m praying, in which case we walk in silence to the bus stop.

Still, I feel like I could pray more and do it with more heart.

Praying

I walk into Church and I stand at the back, mass or no mass. Like I wrote in a post not too long ago, I have a list of friends and relatives with health or emotional challenges I pray for by name. The cousin afflicted with cancer.. my bus driver friend with the tumors that they can’t operate on but which he gets treatment for each month. My siblings, and of course my mom. The mom of a friend who is also undergoing treatment. The grieving bestie at work who recently lost her Dad and has her medical issues. A friend back home who lost his grown son last year. My grade school friend who is trying to overcome cancer. A friend I never met and who found me through this space, fighting cancer for years now. A fellow postcard collector who is battling cancer in a land so far away from home. (I have postcards to write and send!) The friend of a brother trying to live through being HIV positive back home..

So no, I don’t pray to win the lotto — I am too busy trying to remember the ones that need to be on my list. I do pray that I be a good person each day — even if I know I don’t always succeed. I pray for a good day at work.. and then I have a very short list of two people I ask Him to keep safe here on this side of the world, besides my number one guy, the son. I pray that He bring the right people into my world— and to keep those who are not meant to stay, away from me. I pray for those praying in Church with me that very moment..

Sometimes, I do an express version of the list when I’m running really late. I start walking out before I get to the end of my petitions. I figure He would understand. I make the sign of the cross and walk out to start my day. And there are times when I just stand there in silence, not saying anything at all. I am just there — present.

I always remember to be grateful. One of the many retreats I attended in my younger years at St. Paul told us that praying is not just all about asking. It is also about thanking Him. And I thank Him for each and every day.

Last night, as I slept, I spoke in prayer to my older brother who died at birth. My life would be so much different had he lived to be the head of the family now. Four years my senior, he would’ve taken on the cudgels of making the decisions and of moving our brood this way or that. I never knew him growing up, but he would visit me in my dreams where he manifested as this person or other, but I was always aware he was not in the land of the living and he was who he was. And I always cried each time, more so when he hugged me. I was tossing and turning and doing my usual evening prayers. I called out to my “Kuya” (older brother or male relative), I whispered I was good and could handle my troubles for now, and I told him I wanted him to help my sister first. She needed him more than I did. I asked that he let her feel his embrace. Finally, I asked him not to visit me in my dreams because I would end up crying again like I always do. I know he heard me.

Prayer, really, is a matter of faith. And I have always been grateful that I was able to discover it early on in life. It has kept my footing steady when I would have otherwise stumbled and fell. It has helped me get up those moments when I lost my balance. It has kept me going through the good and the bad times.

So today I pray that He keep my heart steady.. and that He doesn’t let go of my hand. Amen.

Counting the days yet again

I’ve been hoping to write a post here for ages but it has been a very busy past couple of days.  When the opportunity came, I opted to work on the Gotham Chick post first because that blog has been badly neglected and I feel bad about it.  I am trying very hard to jumpstart that corner of my webspace but life and work and life again get in the way.

Soon.

You know how you wish you could tick off even just half your list of “to do’s” and then find yourself unable to even write that list?  It can be paralyzing at times.

These days I just want to space out.  I have been thinking of hopping on a subway line and taking it from end to end over and over again.  But I don’t have the time.  I used to feel that way every time I got on e a long-distance bus ride — I just kept wishing I could just keep going without stopping.

In between ordinary chores like washing the dishes or just putting the dry ones away, I think about taking a trip some place on my own and just “disappearing” into a sea of tourists or like travelers.  Some place new where I’ve never been before.  I wish.. but I can’t.

I sit at my craft corner and start organizing the beads hoping the inspiration to create would come but I get stumped.  Time seems to be dragging its feet one minute and then slipping by too quickly in the next.

I want to jump to May.

This time of the year hasn’t been very good for me because celebrations have been non-celebrations for the longest time.  What should be Happy moments turn out to be numb if not sad.

I had to pause after that last line.  A half smile forms in my face and I try to remind myself I have been blessed.

Someone’s been telling me I have won.  That I should be happy because I have won.  Yet I am reminded of those Pyrrhic victories which were indeed wins but which were achieved at a terrible, terrible cost.  These days I often have to remind myself the reason for why I fight for what I fight for.  Sometimes I stray into a gray area and I find myself looking for some sense of balance which I shouldn’t be looking for — because I should be viewing it from another perspective.

I have to remind myself of the reason why I am where I am.  I have to remind myself of the choice I made and why I made that choice.  Forget about the ones that caused me pain and sadness. I look to the one who has given me my greatest joy.

Another pause.  This time I smile.  A real smile.

There are many things I dread coming to pass these days.  Birthday being one of them.  I get hundreds of greetings thanks to the automatic reminder feature of FB, but I don’t quite get all the ones that really matter.   And much as I would love to respond to each and everyone, I never quite get around to doing it.  (Too slow, I know.)  It’s not so much that I’m turning another year older and I am getting old — but all the “happy” associated with birthdays ring hollow to me more so at this time.  I used to hear people wanting to sleep through Christmas or whiz by their special day for some reason or other — and I never quite understood what was wrong with these people.  Now I understand why.

And remembering certain things associated with past birthdays — more so last year’s — makes it really hard to look forward to this coming one.  I’m tempted to say that after everything that had taken place, I cannot go to anything worse.  It can only get better as they say.  But I had said that of my life in general over a year ago, and 2013 proved me wrong.  It did get worse — so now I try not to tempt fate by proclaiming a hollow optimism after the storm.  I have learned that the pragmatic thing to do is actually just brace for whatever else life throws my way — be it good or bad.  More than hope for something, I need to pray and pray hard I must.

I am trying to count my blessings.  I don’t mean to sound ungrateful or unappreciative of the breaks life has thrown my way.  It’s just that I’ve fallen very hard the last two years, my knees are still smarting from the deep cuts — and the aches and pains haven’t quite gone away.  Who was it who said scars make you beautiful… they are reminders of how strong you are… they probably were looking at someone else’s scars and did not suffer that kind of a fall themselves.

Spare me the birthday greetings — not because I don’t like getting them — but because I’d rather ask for your prayers.  I’m two years shy of the next milestone agewise, and I would like to think I’ll be at a much better place then than where I find myself now, whether or not things do get better or things get worse.  (Does that make sense?  It does to me.)

I have realized a lot of things more so in the last six months which I sometimes wish I didn’t uncover or have to face.  We sometimes find that illusions or the way we’d like to believe things are are safer than the truth that they mask, just under the surface.

I want to go on a short trip to this resort hotel and book a room and just lay there in bed, staring at the ceiling.  To feel how it is to be there in that place..  and to just see the sun rise outside my window.

I want to believe in me again the way I did before my illusions about my world were shattered to bits.  Sometimes that is the hardest because I am my own worst critic.  I wish the pain would go so that “happy” can have room and reign again.

I am trying.

Even as I count the days to one of the occasions I dread — for many reasons, in many ways.