Sunday Lifestyle

2016: What lessons will you teach me?

LOVE LUCY - The Philippine Star

Hello, 2016. What will you be like? Thus far you have been nice and gentle, like a slow easy stretch. In my gut I know you will be busy, but then aren’t all years that way in hindsight?

Did I tell you already that 2015 felt very much like many of those poses I tried in my first yoga class before? Because I was far from being flexible and it was a challenge to even just reach my toes with my fingertips, I had to work at it. With every stretch I had to surrender to the pain, the discomfort, to all that my mind was predisposed to recognize as not nice.  The year that was felt very much like that — a constant stretching and surrendering to what I would like to bundle together and mildly call in hindsight “life’s surprises.” It is so true that attitude is very important. And that refraining from labeling what I feel can be so liberating. Feelings are just that: feelings. Emotions, too. They do not have to be bad, or good, they are just that — something you feel, but one more thing to deal with (in a series of many) before the sun goes down.

Just last December I was at a luncheon with a very wise man of God. He said he spiraled into a deep depression after typhoon Yolanda happened, perhaps after being faced with the reality that a person of his stature and influence could not fix all the woes of the big community he shepherded, try as he did. He went through very dark nights of his own months after the typhoon, and says it felt very much like being tossed and turned in a stormy sea all his own. He said he survived by not resisting what was. It was a storm God wanted him to go through and there was no use fighting it. And so he kept still, allowing himself to be washed with the waves, believing in his heart that something in him was being changed, and refined. And the storm did pass. Eventually. It all does, doesn’t it? He is very happy now, and stronger, too, his faith deepened. He is taking on rehabilitation work with a new fervor.

That said, there have been many beautiful moments, too. They range from the tender to the hilarious to the warm and fuzzy, the kind to look back on happily and mistily when I am all of 85 years old. Richard and I have long wanted a little boy and God has not granted that yet but last year, little Valiant started staying with us and there is the sound of little feet running around the house every day. Of late, he demands a series of Robert Munsch bedtime stories (the same 4-5 stories every day that I can now tell with my eyes closed and even in my sleep). It has been tender and fun and I remember my days as a very young mom when bedtime stories for my now 15-year-old Juliana were the norm. I have forgotten how demanding little people can be, as Valiant wants me to change my voice for every character in each story. So at any given day I am a little girl, a grown man, a grandmother, a crying baby, the sound of footsteps or a door banging close, the siren of a train, a snore. 

I have brought out some of the many beautiful notebooks I found in storage and I am going to use them — some for my devotional notes, another to catch ideas, yet another to keep my many thoughts. I feel recharged by the Christmas season, all the languid time spent with family and friends. Truly, they are life’s treasure. I am thankful for the opportunities I had to work on several projects with both heart and hands.  I pray they bloom this year, all in God’s beautiful plan and time. 

2015, you were not a blur. The moments you contained were very well defined — the good, the not so nice, and all else in between. Many times you took my breath away. Yes, there were days that were so difficult I felt like I had to gasp for air to get through them. But then again they were balanced out by those that were just unbelievably beautiful. Centering prayer teaches one to take all as they come, one breath and one day at a time.

2016, what lessons will you teach me? The year that was taught me to celebrate small victories as much as the bigger ones, to honor one and all just the same. We are always in the process of fixing something anyway, we are always working towards a goal, and the road to that will unfold many little triumphs. We fuel our hearts by not only learning from the setbacks but also rejoicing in the steps that were successfully taken forward.   

I pray you will be gentle. Yes, despite this being election year. May people live very much as they do in the spirit of December, when the good that is innate prevails. May I not complain about anything, no matter how tough the day gets. I ask God for that grace. Because summarily I, and I am sure you as well, will always have more to be thankful for than to complain about. And may we seek and see God’s hand in all the moments of life. As we start a fresh year, I would like to share the prayer that priests used to bless people in ancient times, from the Book of Numbers:

The Lord bless you and keep you!

The Lord let His face shine upon you and be gracious to you!

The Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace!

“So shall they invoke my name and I will bless them.”

Cheers to a new year that will give you and yours lots to smile about, and may we all be blessed in every way that matters.


















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