Monday, July 18, 2011

the space between

A friend once commented on a blog entry that tears are a sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit.

Today, as I came across a video clip of an old song, I realise how the poignant silence of a teardrop leads me to grace.

The Lord touches me in those brief moments where I am at my most fragile. He is there in the pause after I stumble and right before I pick myself up. His breath is my gasp when I hit the brakes to avoid collision with a speeding motorcycle. He is in the middle of a painful experience and the acceptance of its purpose. He comes on the second step on the bicycle pedal as I struggle from my first to keep my balance in motion. He is the skip of my heartbeat when I am in a crisis and right and wrong do not seem to look any different from each other.

And He is in the first tear, right before it forms into a teardrop, as it wells up my eye and causes my voice to quiver slightly, yet unnoticed. In this hesitant moment, I am called to be aware of the love of a God that endures. I finally weep, and the healing begins in the space between my tears.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

hoping just because i spoke the words that they're true

I crossed out something from my bucket list this weekend. There's something magical about this week, how every sign is distinct and clear, and how I've gone from tears to thrills in a span of seven days. Even more so that it was Dad's 7th month just this Friday, and today is both Independence Day and Pentecost Sunday.


I am filled with thanks for this newfound clarity in my life. It is a blessing how I pray for things to happen, and with effort on my part, they do. I find myself talking aloud when I'm alone, singing audibly when I'm running at night, or keeping quiet but thinking intently in conversation. I suppose it appears crazy to some, but for me, it has become sort of an active form of prayer. I believe my dad can hear me when I say or sing these things by myself, and I let God in on the conversation, too. Now that I have more time to be on my own, I am grateful to have the luxury to reflect and ponder on how much has been done. I realise now that I am responsible for the outcome instead of being just a passive recipient. I see now that hard work coupled with fervent prayer generates the best result. I've rid myself the stress of asking why something was not granted, and in lieu of it I've grown eager for the other thing that is yet to come.

What has transpired these past few months (and days!) has liberated me from old fears and obsolete notions of myself. I am here, I am alive, I am standing on my own two feet, and, surprisingly enough, I am still willing to love. My soul is full of gratitude for everything and everyone that has led me to where I am now. How glorious it is for my spirit to be free.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

manahimik at makinig.

I went to mass at the Church of the Gesu last Palm Sunday. I meant to sing again with Hangad, but, at the last minute, I chose to listen.

I'm glad I did. Sometimes, in the flurry of preparing for the next song (or the lines to say during the interactive Gospel reading of the Passion), I find no time to reflect on the mass readings. But that day was special; I felt it was necessary to find time to be quiet, and to wait quietly for things to come.

I had always been one to speak my mind; at times, to a fault. I may be patient, but to be patient with grace is a skill I have yet to master. Even as I was dutifully attending to my family responsibilities, it was not without complaints. When I feel I have been wronged, I say it; when I know I am wrong, I profusely ask for pardon and give a mountain of reasons. I don't know why, but I always feel vulnerable whenever I am at a loss for words or when I'm not given a chance to speak out, so I end up saying too many things to avoid the silence.

As I sat in the Gesu that day, I was at my most fragile state. There was nobody I could talk to (since I was at mass and I shouldn't really be chatting with anyone), and suddenly I didn't feel so confident to sing anymore, as I hadn't done that in a long time. I closed my eyes and I felt tears welling up. I shushed the thoughts in my head, and I listened.

As Hangad sang for the offertory, I reflected on St. Ignatius' prayer. It is indeed difficult to serve, to fight, to love without expecting anything in return. Yet too often I forget that the reward is in doing the act itself, because in doing it I am fulfilling what is willed for my soul. During communion, in the middle of Here In This Place, I remembered my Dad's passing and Dylan's birth, and how they have given our lives hope amidst loss.

I kept still, and looked at my family. We all have different roles now, and each of us have moments wherein we would deny the gravity of our responsibilities or expect a little more patience with each other. Yet I know we will be always bound by love that rises above despair. I marveled at Hangad and how the group continues to inspire its listeners, myself included. I feel lucky to have been a part of it, and to know that I am welcome to return when I am ready. I thought about those who have gone but given much of themselves for my happiness, and prayed for their happiness as well.

Now, while I am allowed time for it, I will learn to embrace my silence, and remember to listen.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

no one's gonna take that time away.

I was greeted this morning by a song in my head. I first heard the version of Janis Siegel with Fred Hersch on piano, but I am very much drawn to the original that James Taylor and Carly Simon recorded while they were very much in love. It may be of note, though, that the comments in the video speak of a painful truth that one could not see in their eyes; yet, the lyrics are wrought with bittersweet sentiment that would manifest itself to them only after a decade.

This Holy Week calls me to peace. Palm Sunday began with a triumphant and glorious welcome; yet, it was also a prelude to a sorrowful passion. Nevertheless, I am comforted with the hope of an Easter morning. As he said while I was in tears on the way home, "it will be better." It was not all sadness, anyway. In fact, it was a chance at a dream, and the best days always outnumbered the worst. There are no villains in this story; nobody wins when there is something lost, there are no sides to take. At the very end of it, mutual respect and gratitude remain for the love that was given and gotten.

So close your eyes, you can close your eyes, it's alright. Everyday, I pray that it will be alright for you and me.
"That today you find peace inside you, that you can confide in your highest power because you are exactly where you are supposed to be, but do not forget the infinite possibilities that are born from the faith, that you may use the gifts that you have received and transfer the love that has been given to you, to make you feel satisfied that you are a child of God. Allow his presence in your bones and give your soul the liberty to sing, dance and be warmed by the sun, that is there for everyone and each one of us."

Sunday, April 10, 2011

just walk the line; you know you just can't fight it.

I was browsing through youtube for 90s music, and I was brought back to the summer of 1993. I had just graduated from elementary with the second highest honors in the entire batch, excited to start high school. We didn't have a landline phone yet, the internet was unheard of, and the only way to get in touch with the few friends I made was through snail mail. I hardly knew anyone from the neighborhood and I rarely went out of the house, so what kept me entertained were MTV, HBO, my looney siblings and the radio.

Radio was my best companion. I longed to have a walkman, but all I could afford was some China-made ripoff at a bargain sale at Duty Free. It even had dual headphone outlets, in case I had a friend I wanted to share my music with (I didn't). At home, we had a mini-component system that I turned on instinctively in the morning after my parents left for work and my sister played 56 Games by herself. My brother would still not be awake until noon.

99.5 RT was my favorite station. I would get Dad's latest copy of Reader's Digest and I'd be reading it from cover-to-cover while listening to RIck Dees' Weekly Top 40. I'd sing along to "Dreamlover", try to figure out the lyrics to "Informer", wait forever for "I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)" to finish, and sing along to all the released hits on the albums Ten Summoners' Tales (Sting), It's About Time (SWV), Beverly Hills 90210 OST (Various Artists), Toni Braxton, and The Bodyguard (mostly Whitney). Rock for me at the time was just Bon Jovi and Aerosmith, which would exponentially multiply in the months and years to come. Want to reminisce with me? Click here.

It was probably the last summer of my childhood. I haven't even met half of the friends I would keep for the rest of my life, knew nothing about boys save for the few ones I met at the Ateneo Children's Theater about a couple of years back (they're now superstars in their own right :P), and romance was just plain uninteresting.

But it was all good. Radio was there to acquaint me with love stories I have yet to relate to, from "Weak" to "Freak Me" to "One Last Cry". I danced to "Can't Get Enough of Your Love" with my door and sang to my stand fan, and imagined what a school dance would feel like. (I would end up bringing my brother as a date.) My world was all in that black box of frequency waves, and it was big enough for me :)

I went on a roadtrip a few weekends back and I listened to RT for the first time in a long time. After a gazillion reformats, it was back to the old RT I grew up with. While on the SCTEX, I heard the strains of Def Leppard's "Two Steps Behind" and I sudddenly remembered the 14-year old girl that I was -- smart, secure, solid, and sure of herself.

That bright and promising 14-year-old is still here, reminding me that it only takes a minute of my precious time to turn around.

Time to dance with the door and sing to the fan again :)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

you brighten all my nights and make my day.

Cute,no? This was but one of the many songs my sister parodied which still cracks me up to this day. Yet watching it again tonight initially brings not a laugh but a misty eye; then to laughter again when reaching part 3:09 as the revised ending by Joy comes to mind.

I write this with the laptop perched on the armrest of the sofa bed in my new room. I have a picture of myself on this same sofa bed in this same room in my jammies with a balloon on each hand -- I think it was on my 2nd birthday. The old set of house keys referred to this room as the "girl's room", but it became my kuya's when he moved in from Malabon. When my sister and I became too old to stay in my parents' bedroom, the 2-car garage was converted into a spacious room for us, where we spent almost 15 years on 2 single beds pushed together to make a huge bed where we jumped (and cracked the plywood underneath), did our homework, and laughed ourselves to sleep. The lock-less sliding glass door left us with minimal privacy, with Mom and Kuya Dacky suddenly entering the room at any time, regardless of what we were doing or wearing (or not wearing). Sometimes, Joy or I would retreat to the den/guestroom adjacent to that room to escape and be undisturbed. Yet soon we find ourselves coming back to our room and sleep soundly, comforted by the feeling of one's back against the other.

When Ondoy struck, it was our room that was flooded first. Returning the day after, I saw my pre-digicam pictures, CDs and DVDs floating on the murky water, the beds overturned, the wooden dresser with the small locker filled with old mailed letters from my best friend, warped and ruined. Little by little, we saved whatever articles of furniture and clothing we could, and made our room livable again. Joy and I were the first ones to go back into the house, sleeping on what would become my parents' new mattress laid out on the floor of the room we shared, unmindful of the combined stench of wet wood, paper and paint. Soon after, we had our old bed set up as before, and our room was almost fully restored. Somehow, despite advising Mom to change the color of the room to anticipate its use as the newlyweds' nest, she still had it painted pink. I didn't mind it that much anymore, because I was excited to have Kuya Raul's room for myself. I had the walls done in periwinkle, moved my desktop pc and Dad's old rocking chair, and removed one sofa bed to give me a bit more space. For the first time in my life, I was to have a room of my own. But I was supposed to move only after Joy got married.

Two weeks before that big day, I saw a mouse inside our room. Terrified of rodents of any size or kind, I was forced to prematurely occupy my new room while Joy chose to stay in the old room. I found it to be my personal preparation for the days to come. I had to go back after a week, though, because we had relatives staying over the house for the wedding. Still, I barely slept during those days and oftentimes I would be creeping into our room just to take a bath and change clothes for work sans a good night's rest.

On the first week of March, I officially moved into my new room. I filled my mind with thoughts of relief: I have a wardrobe all to myself, my door finally has a lock, I can keep the lights on while I'm up late websurfing, and I don't have worry about waking someone else with my alarm clock and snooze forever. Yet I found myself oversleeping a few times because there was nobody to remind me to get up and turn off the alarm. And some nights, I wept, not unlike that time I was alone in Tagaytay in the summer of 2008, nursing a broken heart in the drama of a violently windy evening.

One of the things I am called to give up this Lenten Season is my Mupy. Soon, the cricket-like chatter of sisters in baby talk will be a thing of the past as she enters this new phase of her life. She is now a wife, and soon (or sooner, as Mom hopes), she will be a mother with a real infant to coo and baby talk with. And the once blurry line that defined an Ate from the Bunso will have to be defined as both of us take on new roles and responsibilities, independently. We promised to each other that we will remain close, but I also reminded her that now, siblings and parents will have to fall down the priority list to make way for her husband and her future children. It is a reminder for me, too, that she is already grown up and will have to face certain challenges on her own without me, Mom or Dad.

I am still not done trying to get used to it, but every day I struggle to contain that I miss her, especially in the evenings. Yet I am hopeful that with God's grace, I can finally accept that Mupy will have to go, but Joy will remain. And I pray that as I cease being a little sister to her, I may live up to her need for an older sister she can turn to.

In the meantime, I
set the alarm on a clock that buzzes so annoyingly that "snooze" is no longer an option, and prop a pillow on one side of my bed for my back to lean against as I sleep tonight in the girl's room.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

thank you, Frailty, thank you, Consequence, thank you, Silence.

As we put out the last Roman Candle in the revelry of ushering 2010, the family noticed that the neighborhood fireworks ended earlier than usual. Maybe people were tired or too stressed; perhaps they figured it would be better to watch TV (although we're known for having the best fireworks display outside any public show because of the prominent personalities who live on our street), or maybe the events of 2009 made it fitting to end its final moments in silence.

Alanis Morissette's "Thank U" was released in 1998. 12 years after, it still resounds as timely as ever for me. No, I still have not gone to the salon for that much needed hair makeover, and this video reminds me of that, too ;P It has become my anthem for the week, and it perfectly caps my year filled with so many personal milestones, catastrophes and blessings that it almost seems surreal.

This was the year I joined races, stumbled and picked myself up to meet my work targets, flew like Superman on a zipline, hiked 4 hours of mountain(s!!!) to get to an awesome volcanic sand beach, and pioneered a superclub bridal shower idea that will soon be the latest craze among brides-to-be (right, Tim?).

2009 was also the year we shuffled from hospital to hospital: Dad's gastric surgery and removal of a miraculously benign tumor, the comeback of Mom's slipped disc that required regular therapy sessions, and the car mishap that involved both of them and a hapless woman who happened to be walking on the opposite side of the school gate our car rammed into while rapidly moving in reverse. And, who could forget Ondoy, whose destructive force has left our home in a shambles as we struggle up to this day restoring it back to a livable state for the next decade or so?

How apt it was for 2009 to have been the year I turned 30, for this was the time when I finally (albeit with much resistance) had to fit into the shoes of an adult. I was suddenly not just a child who was let in on family issues; I was to be part of the steering committee. Many times over, and in different occasions, I became a mother, a godmother, a Mrs.Cortez for a day, an eldest daughter, a youngest sister, the man of the house, and the maid.

All these things were seasoned with love that came from every corner of my world. The family grew closer and stronger than ever as we slowly rebuilt our home and braved every ailment, my branch office bounced back with a vengeance with its staggering rallied sales stats, and Joe's full marathon finish, with his medal on my neck, spoke of the indefatigability of the human spirit. Hangad's December visit to Isabela further taught me how moving it is to be impassioned, not just with a beloved, but also towards a ministry that one is called to be a part of.

2010 appears to be a promising year, as we face it with a renewed sense of inner strength. This will be the year I finally give my baby sister away to start a family of her own, and this is also the time for me to let go of my fears and reinvent myself yet again, as we begin my first bike build -- that I will eventually ride :) On a nationwide scale, they say Hope is the main theme of the beginning of the 10s, and much is to be expected as we transition into a new leader in May. My heart is brimming with much love to give, and I am not alone in praying that the coming year be a little kinder to most of us. Nevertheless, I am confident that should there be new and bigger challenges to face, in the end, I will still be thankful for all of it.

Kudos to 2009, and welcome, 2010. :)