Lifted Up

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Firstlight, Gratitude, and Rain

fLate this afternoon, it rained. Drawn to its song and the cool sway of the wind, I went outside of the house and perched myself on top of the table at our small sari-sari store. I looked outside, at the golden sky that announced the unseen setting sun, and the scene that was slightly filtered with a dewy fade from the rain. I brought a book with me. I curled my knees in and stared out, getting myself involved in this natural scenery.

It brought back memories to the summers when I was still a teenager, when my parents went to work, and I was left alone in the house. On the events where there was summer rain, I’d seat myself at almost the exact same spot as where I was seated today. I was an onlooker to the sight, and I would bring my notebook; I would write.

Today, as I tried to follow the paths of several raindrops, and watched them collect themselves together into a puddle at the cemented road, then the puddle reflecting a dull gold that came from the sky, I could only think of the past few days, and the gratitude that was heavy in my heart that it had to collapse in those odd successions of a smile, a yes-nod, a little tear here and there that was quickly swiped.

I am grateful for answered prayers and immediate healing.

The other night I was worried sick of my mother who had cough and asthma and was having trouble breathing. On top of that, I was silently walking through a spiritual drought for weeks now. Something was just amiss, and I could not feel the spiritual sensitivity and warmth that had already become familiar to me. I prayed prayers that lacked depth, and were clearly disconnected. I was starting to be terrified. And yet, as we would say in our dialect, nagpabaga ko ug nawong (I had to be thick-faced and had to be shameless by continuing to pray and call to God, even when my heart was clearly distant). Because in truth, I could not stay away from God. I could not turn my back on our relationship.

I was starting to panic for my mother. That night I just had to do the one thing I needed to do, I prayed over her. I was unconfident in my prayers because of my spiritual drought, but I pressed my eyes closed, and I spoke boldly and unashamed. I just prayed, with all humility and sincerity.

The next day, miraculously, the cough and the asthma were gone. To me, that was a yes-nod from God, an I hear you answer, a Come back to me My arms are open for you invitation, an I will quench your thirst declaration. I pray still, asking for God to let me meet Him to heal this spiritual drought. I am grateful for my mother’s life.

I am grateful for shared pain and highschool friendships. 

Yesterday, I went to the wake of my high school friend’s mother. I listened to her retell her story, and cried with her, and with her father. As I entered their house and sat at their couch, it brought back memories to when we were still fourteen-fifteen-sixteen-year-old girls, who spent hours at their house, ate food that her mother prepared, and watched movies while seated there on their couch while her mother would greet us and talk with us. I knew her mother’s voice and knew the way she spoke.

My friend and our small barkada have not consistently communicated nor seen much of each other over the years because we went to different schools in college, and then just gradually got “busier.” But as we talked that afternoon, there seemed to be no years lost. We were there as old friends—she, mourning for her mother; and, I,  sharing the grief and the pain for a life that I also knew.

Highschool is such a tender age. You seem grown up, but not quite yet, so you and your friends had to spend so much time at each other’s houses, got to know and got taken cared of and had been looked after by each other’s parents. There’s something special in those relationships in your youth, a sharing of memories and families that no years could ever erase.

I am grateful for my cousin. 

She is celebrating her birthday today. I am grateful for her humility and sincerity, the love and the warmth that she so generously gives and serves my Mamang and Papang. She takes care of them while I am away for work, and she loves them dearly like her own. I am forever grateful for her goodwill, and her beautiful heart. I am always in awe of her charity and generosity of herself, her service, her time, her plans, her heart towards my family.

I am grateful for Sue Monk Kidd’s Firstlight.

I finished reading this beautiful and personally special book today. I love it! Sue Monk Kidd prompted me to reflect on my own spiritual journey, scanning memories and pages I could find. It was her writing that inspired me to write again today.

I’d like to think that I am always grateful for a lot of things. Each day I try to find something that I am grateful for, but then there are those significant occasions that create lasting impacts of gratitude, that leave you breathless, silent, brimming, and drives you to get down on your knees to bow in humble gratitude.

Gratitude is an agent of healing, one that also comes from a well that quenches a spiritual drought, and moves you closer, lifts off the veil of shame that has covered your face, and lets you face God to personally thank and praise Him. Today, I did, with a backdrop of a faded golden sky and a soundtrack of rain.

How You Remind Me

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I.

I wondered,
if You were here physically,
how would You perform Your healing?
How would You touch?
What would You speak?
I needed to see You,
to know how You’d touch,
what You’d speak,
what You’d do.
I needed to
act, speak, think,
do like You.
Above all,
I need You.

II.

And just when I’m oh, so tired,
and about to give up,
You never fail to show up and lead.

Anchor Verses 2016 [Verse 2]

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I would often pray about coming back home to God. I know He knows and can see my heart well, but still, I always tell Him to see my heart, to know how at the end of each and every day, no matter the circumstance of the day, He is always my home. I come home to Him. And how, for the rest of my days, I choose to come home to Him, no matter what.

I am not perfect. I struggle, too. At the end of some days, I do have regrets for words I should not have said to somebody, for actions I should have not reacted towards someone, for sins I intentionally did, and the list goes on. But still, I swallow my pride, I thicken my face, and I still call to God. I still come to Him and pray. In turn, He rebukes me, pacifies me, clarifies my thoughts, grants me perspective, strengthens me, and so forth. Basically, He answers me according to my current need.

I stumble a lot, I know. Sometimes, I think I tend to wander far or too long, more than necessary. So in my prayers, I also tell Him that though I stumble and fall, it is always the hope of my heart to reach out to His outstretched arms, to hold His open hands, to rise through His help, to stand in front or beside Him.

I also tell Him to never let me go too far astray, even if I know that He will look for me when I do, that one stubborn, hardheaded, dumb or rebellious sheep against the 99. (See, The Parable of the Lost Sheep, Luke 15: 1-7.) And when He tries to find me, it is always the hope of my heart to let myself be found. When He finds me, I shall go with Him.

So today as I was reading my devotional, the verse was:

The Lord directs the steps of the godly.
He delights in every detail of their lives.
Though they stumble, they will never fall,
for the Lord holds them by the hand.

~ Psalm 35: 23-24 (NLT)

I found these verses comforting, and ones I would now hold close to my heart. My prayers are aligned to Him. This psalm that David wrote makes me think if David might have often felt the same way that I do. This man who was after God’s heart might have also often stumbled, but He stands up because the Lord holds him by the hand.

You see, our emotions, our circumstance, they are not as unique as we think they are. We are not alone. I know it seems like it all the time, but reading these real life heart-stories strengthens me and reminds me that somebody else has gotten through what I might be going through; somebody else also chose God. And now God gives me the opportunity to do the same.

Every story serves a purpose unique to the reader. Part of me thinks that perhaps this could be one of the reasons why Jesus often taught through parables. Hear the story. Learn. Take the right action.

 

 

Our Thoughts, They are Perpetual

* * *

A month ago, I was in bed while my thoughts meandered elsewhere. I had been thinking about a lot of things, specifically about the circumstances that I’ve been exposed to lately, not just my personal experiences, but also about the current (hard) life experiences of the people I care about.

I cannot talk some sense into myself from psychoanalyzing things—seeking meaning or teachings about the thoughts that ambush and grip me. I never did arrive at anything that night, so I started with the phrase: I don’t know. Now because I didn’t know, it only meant that I just had to surrender it all by having faith and trust in God.

But, how do I create a concrete idea out of those keywords? I didn’t exactly knew how, but the base idea was that if all of these varied things piled up in us, how would they look like? I envisioned a pyramid, but that God would not be at the top, He would be at the bottom, being who He is—the Base, the Foundation, the Only-One-Who-Can-Carry-and-Support-all-the-Weight.

I had no other idea how to describe what I was really thinking that night plus, I was already too tired to pore through my mind, so that the only logical thing to do to preserve the idea was to simply draw it, like such:

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Snapshot captured from my notebook. Sorry for the inkblots. I know I write too hard on paper, especially if I am in a hurry.Yikes!

So I’ve set that thought aside, but little did I know that a couple of weeks later while reading Mister God, This is Anna, I would then read this line:

…it must be wrong to expect words to bear the weight of the meaning of the word ‘God.’ No! It must be that ‘God’ is the word that bears the weight of all the other words. So the pyramid idea of words with ‘God’ on the top is WRONG SIDE UP; so turn it UPSIDE DOWN. That’s better. Now the whole pyramid of words is standing on its apex like the numbers. The apex of the ‘pyramid’ is ‘God,’ and that must be right because now the word ‘God’ carries the weight and meaning of all the other words.

…We’ve all got to bear the weight of our own actions. We’ve all got to be responsible—either now or later.

Can you imagine how I must have felt the moment I read those lines? My heart was drumming in my chest and I was holding my breath—how could Fynn have known or, how could I have known? I had to close the book just to linger and to savor the strange and beautiful moment—one I would not dare name as coincidence. I am once again left in awe, but most definitely grateful for such rare meetings. I would not dare, too to claim that Fynn’s words would be some sort of validation or negation for my idea. I guess, I just am overwhelmed with this quiet satisfaction about the reality of perpetual thoughts. 

You see, Fynn and I had different illustrations—he thinks of God as the apex of the pyramid; I think of God as the base of the pyramid—but both of us understood that “God carries the weight and meaning of all the other words.”

We may have different illustrations, different interpretations, different means of breathing life or setting an idea into motion; but, in the end, the basis, the core value of an idea can never be diminished. It is a light that cannot be dimmed. I’d like to think that ideas select its potential resource—perhaps one with the right energy or power or stability. It knows where it can reside or how it can multiply.

Ideas are alive. They are in the air we breathe. And whether we are aware of them or not, they come for us, become part of us, until the only thing we are left to do is to release them back in the air—whether in action, in purpose, or as an ingredient for bigger, brighter, and better ideas. Thoughts are indeed perpetual, and it is our responsibility to help pass them on.

Take hold of your ideas. Never belittle nor dismiss them no matter how silly or small or strange they sound. Your ideas are alive. Just know that they will live and relive at their own time. Your thoughts, our thoughts, they are perpetual. They live on.