New Year’s revelry.
Walter Bollozos
New Year’s reverie
PEOPLE - Joanne Rae M. Ramirez (The Philippine Star) - January 7, 2020 - 12:00am

After the revelry, the reverie.

The Christmas Season is technically over, but the time “for giving” and “forgiving” isn’t over. These two words were headlined during a homily in our parish before Christmas, and I thought to myself that only a teeny-weeny space differentiated the two words. In spelling, and meaning.

“For giving” and “forgiving” have exactly the same number of letters, have the same effect, and take the same amount of generosity from the giver. They may mean different things per se, but they actually carry the same spirit of selflessness, and in some cases, same amount of self-denial.

The time for giving and forgiving can start today, if it hasn’t already.

The popular saying is to “give until it hurts.” My late grandmother Jovita Reyes always used to tell us that when it came to her seven children and grandchildren, everything was “All mine to give.” Even when it meant a bad business decision, if her children needed something that she could produce from the sweat of her brow it was, “All mine to give.”

When I was in high school, a classmate of mine shared that when one gives genuinely, one gives till it hurts, and “Till it hurts no more.”

Because by the time one has found it in oneself to give generously — not just alms to beggars, many of whom have made a trade out of it — one realizes that it is possible to give “till it hurts no more.” The dent in one’s pocket, the sacrifices one must make, the self-denial — all these are buoyed, the way one is buoyed when immersed in sea water, by the grace that genuine generosity immerses the cheerful giver with.

A philanthropist once told me that when she gives, and boy, does she give, she gives “straight from the heart.” Otherwise, she told me, “Manghihinayang lang ako.” She works hard for her money and she parts with big amounts of it for causes she believes in. But, she doesn’t feel the loss or “hinayang” because she gives without counting the cost.

Once, I gave away a pair of earrings that I had bought a long time ago and unearthed while I was arranging my stuff the Marie Kondo way. I thought the earrings were fancy and stylish, and in a whim, I gave them a way. The recipient was overjoyed and later told me the earrings were semi-precious and she wondered if I knew what I was parting with when I gave them to her.  Well, I didn’t exactly remember what they were worth, but since I genuinely wanted to share what I had, it didn’t hurt to lose them.

Another dear friend, whose parent was once very influential, once said that whenever people would ask her what her favorite charity was (perhaps with the intention to donate in her name), she would always answer that her favorite charity was her househelp. So, you could imagine how truly blessed her househelp are.

Another childhood friend says that all the retired househelp in their clan live in a virtual barangay south of Metro Manila. Her former yayas and her cousin’s former drivers, etc. are all neighbors in the land given to them by their generous employers, who were siblings. Land, what a precious, everlasting gift to people not even related by blood to you, but have become more than family to you.

Time is also a precious gift. I think of all the parents, teachers, doctors, nurses, who give so generously of their time, with no overtime compensation, the whole year through. Students who would tutor their fellow classmates in Math during recess.

Forgiving

Personally, I think “forgiving” is more exhausting, emotionally and physically, than giving. In fact it is giving of oneself most generously. It draws upon the most hardened part of you to do the noblest, softest act.

The priest said in his pre-Christmas homily that the act of forgiving is good for the one who forgives, because it relieves him of the corrosive stresses associated with anger, bitterness, extreme self-righteousness. He also said you don’t have to face the person who has wronged you to say you have forgiven him. You could just say it in your heart, and I guess show through your actions that you mean it.

Forgiving is liberating because you show you are no longer bound by anger and the power of the one who has wronged you to continue affecting you. Your ankles are no longer shackled by hate, and therefore you can move forward. Some sins are simply unforgivable and I dare not go to that sensitive area. Many of us cannot do as Christ did, forgive his tormentors. But who knows what the grace of God can do — to the tormentor and the one he has tormented?

Nelson Mandela, after being incarcerated for 27 years, even invited one of his jailers, Christo Brand,  to his inauguration when he became President of South Africa. Online sources say that Brand has thus been transformed from a pro-apartheid young man to a crusader against racial segregation and oppression. According to Brand, Mandela’s forgiveness was life-changing.

Accepting another person’s apology is also life-changing. It liberates you from the windmills of anger that turn in your mind as you relive over and over again  the other person’s “sin” against you — from something as seemingly petty as tsismis, to something more grave. You give the one who has wronged you and yourself a precious gift — tranquility.

A friend once “apologized” to a successful professional for doing some things, which may have offended her, and the professional said she doesn’t make time anymore for feeling offended at slights, intended or unintended, that have come her away. “I have many, many blessings, there is no more room for intrigues in my life. Sometimes, I fear that if I let these intrigues bother me or let me act in a different way, the blessings will stop. So I just keep positive.”

Actually, the less we let intrigues and perceived affronts conquer us, the less we have to forgive, and the less we have to apologize. Now, isn’t that easier?

Happy New Year! May the time for giving and forgiving continue after the revelry, and light up our lives long after we have taken down the star from our Christmas tree. *

FORGIVING
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