Lugaw for the soul
It’s normal to be tired, stressed, and worried for the future. But reach for that warm bowl of lugaw— and even better, for that deep reservoir of faith and hope.
Illustration: Philstar.com/Enrico Alonzo

Lugaw for the soul: How prayer can help us through this pandemic

BROAD CAST - Jing Castañeda (Philstar.com) - April 5, 2021 - 5:25pm

What is “essential” in a crisis? Early this week, netizens reacted to a video of a rider who was barred by curfew officers from delivering lugaw. People said—and I’m inclined to agree—that when you’re tired, stressed, worried, and hungry for comfort, a big bowl of lugaw can be a lifeline to sanity. #LugawIsEssential for the soul.

Because lugaw isn’t just food. For me, it’s hope in a bowl. It brings back memories of mom cooking me soup when I was sick or during a raging typhoon, and the feeling of being safe and comforted. “Don’t worry, everything will be okay—I’m watching over you.”

Faith amid a crisis

We need that feeling during this “pandemic pandemonium.” The numbers are scary. In just one week, we’ve seen a spike from 10,000 cases a day to over 15,000 cases on April 2. Businesses that had only begun to get a steady return of customers have had to close down yet again. And, to be honest, many of us are already emotionally and financially drained. “Oh no, here we go again.”

It’s normal to be tired, stressed, and worried for the future. But reach for that warm bowl of lugaw— and even better, for that deep reservoir of faith and hope. As St. John Paul II Parish Priest Fr. Aris Sison shared in Pamilya Talk., this is when we can feel God the most.  “Mas lalo tayong dapat magtiwala kasi nga wala na tayong ibang malalapitan.”

One viewer asked whether our prayers are an act of faith or an act of desperation. In other words, are we saying: “Since I can’t do anything, I might as well believe in something.”

But desperation is driven by fear, not trust. Do you go to your Mom because there’s nobody else who loves you, or because she has always loved you? We know the answer to that, even if we can’t explain it. That’s how faith (and lugaw) feels. Our heads may be filled with a thousand fears and reasons to freak out, but amid all of that we somehow believe that everything will be okay.

Faith, fear and difficult questions

Adults can learn a thing or two about faith from children. The 700-Club Asia host Camilla Kim-Galvez, who is now a mother of two, says in another episode on faith and family, “Sobrang laki ng faith ng mga bata.”

That doesn’t mean kids don’t ask questions—in fact, kids ask more questions than adults! Their minds are like sponges, and they’re curious about things that we take for granted. But at the same time, they also understand the answers of the heart: things that can’t be explained, but believed.

They believe their parents love them. They believe that the world is safe, as long as Mom and Dad are near. When they ask, it’s with sincerity and not a desire to argue or prove the other person wrong.

So there is nothing wrong with thinking critically, or even having an honest conversation with God asking Him why you are going through a hard time. It’s even okay to have a good cry, like a child who is having a tantrum and asking a parent for a hug. As Camilla and husband Raul point out, the key is not perfection, but authenticity. Beyond the formulaic litanies and the traditional practices, it’s the relationship with God that needs to be cultivated.

Get real with God

Years of education in Catholic institutions made me realize that the best prayers are personal — no scripts, no formulae, just a natural, heartfelt conversation with your God.  Fr. Sison calls prayer an encounter with the Lord, echoing Pope Francis’ view.

I won’t tell you why this pandemic is happening, how faith can help you, what God is trying to tell you, or what your prayers can achieve. These answers are not mine to give. I don’t know what burdens you are carrying now. But I know God does.

So all I can ask you to do is to take these real, heartfelt questions to God…and then listen. Use this time to open your heart, and then feel His presence. Drink from it, like a bowl of lugaw, and let it strengthen you for the days ahead.


I’d love to hear from you! Share your stories and tips or suggest topics at jingcastaneda21@gmail.com. You can also follow my social media accounts: Instagram,Facebook, Youtube, Twitter,  and Kumu.

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