The Home That Nurtured My Dreams

“It didn’t matter how big our house was; it mattered that there was love in it.”
Peter Buffett, Life Is What You Make It: Find Your Own Path to Fulfillment

My precious dear granddaughters, I write this to you so that when you grow much older you will have something to look back to, from your dear NaiNai…I remember when I was growing up as a child like you, I was as precocious as you both are today, and though I was really shy inside, mostly I was happy growing up in this house…home to me for almost 20 years.

The apartment where I grew up with my parents and eight younger siblings was a corner unit in the 1st building complex inside a huge family compound belonging to a clan from up north of Manila.

And this little space which my family occupied was home to me from the time we moved there shortly before I entered kindergarten until I got married. It was my home for 19 years, the home that also nurtured my youthful dreams.

It was one of those American style 2-storey apartment complexes designed in the popular retro architecture of the ’60s, and located in a quiet middle-class neighborhood. Most families here sent their children to the nearby Catholic schools or the pilot public schools.

Our front door opened to the main driveway, the right side of which, if you were entering the big iron-wrought gates, was lined with a variety of green plants and flowers, from the gate to the end of the long pathway. A tall fruit-laden star-apple tree also stood by the entrance, like a solemn guard.

From the kitchen, our back door led us to the small yard that laid between our building and the 2nd main complex where most of the family members of the clan lived in their own smaller units. At the tip of that small yard was my father’s garage. Hence, when he drove home each evening from office, he would have to turn left from the main driveway.

The yard and the driveway fronting our unit served as our points of connection with the other children in that compound.

Most interesting were all the box-like windows in the house, the type of which we could climb up inside, close the shutters, and viola, we’d be in our own little world, out there in the open yet safely enclosed within the house.

These windows. They were often the stage for my and my siblings’ imaginative wandering minds. 

Much like the houses of old, an enclosed staircase led from the 1st landing up to the 2nd floor, and this staircase was another favorite nook of mine, where I’d often write in my diary or create poems, or read books – books filled our home including the bathroom. But many times, dreamy me would just sit there on one of the steps, leaning against one side, my feet up on the wall, musing my hours away…

That staircase. My comfort zone where I was free to be alone with my thoughts.

“I should say: the house shelters day-dreaming, the house protects the dreamer, the house allows one to dream in peace.”
Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space

Our family unit’s focal point was the medium-sized living room where we had our family altar, the Sacred Heart of Jesus on the wall, hung over the corner table lined with statues of Mama Mary and St. Joseph, and other saints like St. Jude and St. Therese of the Child Jesus. Yet in each room upstairs, smaller altars were enshrined as well.

Each evening, my parents would gather us all in that cozy space, in the living room, after my father had arrived home from office, to say our family prayers that would start with the recitation of the holy rosary, before we partook of our supper — one that often lasted an hour. Our family prayers were personal to us for they were composed by my parents.

Our family ritual. It was, until now even in our own homes, a ritual that has nourished our souls, our faith in God, and one that has marked us as a family.

Family meal times were also a time for sharing stories about our day, or quiz time as when my parents would check on our lessons, or just simply telling jokes. With a large brood such as ours, it was usually a time of mirth, playful bantering or at times – marked with petty quarrels that my parents would soon squash enough with just a simple stern look or a “ssshhhhh” from either of them.

The house where I grew up. The home that nurtured my dreams. It has helped transform me into the person I am today. Thus, so thankful am I there were those elements that cultivated my inter-, intra- and meta-personal relationships: with others (family & childhood friends), myself, and with God: the yard. the driveway. the windows. the family dining table; the staircase; and most of all, our family altar.

That house. My family’s sacred space. A special memory for me.

“When I think of home, I think of a place where there’s love overflowing.” – sung by Diana Ross

 

 

The Natural World Thru An Amateur’s Lens

Here is my response to Photography 101: The Natural World

I thought it was just a leaf
Then the leaf moved and I saw a butterfly starting to flutter
The butterfly tried to flap its wings more, but rather weakly...
View of the morning sky from my yard...'twas a beautiful day...
One of my green plants - the roof from the neighboring house serves as backdrop...

 

A rustic scene: my green plant against an old structure...
My green plant from another angle
A closer view of my green plant still with the sky in sight
The leaves of the plant are in focus

 

Giving Thanks for All God’s Gifts

It’s Wednesday and I’ve been thinking of what to write when I noticed that most posted statuses today on Facebook were expressing “feelings of being blessed.” I do believe God grants each and everyone of us countless blessings, great or small, that come in many different forms. And blessings do not necessarily come in ways that make us happy, joyful or feeling rich.

Blessings are also packaged as pain, sadness, frustration – like an illness, death or separation from a loved one, loss of job – but they are blessings too. Deep in my heart, I just have to be grateful for each blessing I receive in whatever way they come to me.

“In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

 Image Source

The recent demise of my Mom has made me realize this more – despite the deep pain and grief of losing her physical presence, comes joy and consolation in knowing she is now peacefully reunited with God in His heavenly home. My faith in God assures me of this, a special blessing for which I’ll always be grateful. Sometimes, we may think we are especially blessed only when we are materially endowed, in moments of plenty, whenever we receive what our heart desires, like a brand new job or car, or traveling to exotic places, yet feel forsaken by God at moments of distress, failures, or want.

Whenever I see postings on Facebook stating someone feels blessed, it is always when something good happens to them and their loved ones. I still have to come across anyone acknowledging they feel blessed because of being sick, or running out of money or being rejected by a spouse or partner and other life’s adversities.

“In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

We are blessed both in joy and in pain – so most essential is to give God thanks in everything, for everything, for He loves us and gives us each according to what is best for us.God’s infinite wisdom may not be easily discerned by those of weak faith – thus, as Christians we need to focus on how to grow our faith and trust in God, so we can handle each of God’s gift to us with grace and equanimity. And that includes not feeling smug, nor privileged lest we become boastful.
Handling God’s gifts to us with grace and equanimity also means detaching ourselves from things that can hinder us from truly appreciating God’s gifts for the purpose He has given us.

“Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.” (Luke 12:48)

So I should constantly remind myself to make the most of the riches (not only material/temporal) He bestows on me, be positive about each of my gifts. And be ready to share – my time, talents and resources in the best way I can. I strongly believe the best way for me to be grounded about such things as money or fame is to be grounded on my faith in God. Even if for now I do not own such wealth nor fame, I can always prepare myself in the event God chooses to place me in that situation lest I lose myself into them.

My life may not exactly run according to my own plans, yet I trust God He knows what is best for me. I thank Him for everything I am, everything I have now. Life is not perfect, but it is beautiful by the grace of God.

Happy Thanksgiving to All!