How to Be Real Happy This Christmas

“My soul rejoices in my God.
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked upon his lowly servant.” — Luke 1:46-48

 

Christmas in this year 2020 is a sobering reminder that what truly matters most is celebrating the gift of eternal life, the gift of salvation that has come to us through the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The old-rose (pink) candle, symbolizing JOY, is lighted on the 3rd Sunday of Advent…

 

Before the pandemic came upon the world all over, most people had come to equate Christmas with the external trimmings — decors, new clothes, gift-giving, parties, holiday foods. We often exclaim it’s that time of the year again.

There is nothing wrong with any of these in themselves. There is nothing wrong in wanting to be merry and enjoy with our family and friends.

But what is sad is when the real meaning of Christmas — JOY —  is lost and Christmas becomes a commercialized, secular holiday.

But you see, that’s the irony. These external factors that we think will give us the so-called “Christmas joy” are also the same things that cause stress, anxiety, feeling of being overwhelmed. Some may even experience holiday depression.

The priest in last Gaudete Sunday’s livestreamed mass I attended related that some of his parishioners were expressing how difficult life has become due to the pandemic. And because they are feeling the pinch, they have decided not to put up any Christmas decor, not even a “belen” or the Nativity scene. “Oh how can there be Christmas if I don’t have a job or money?”

Perhaps many can relate or understand this.

But another reason could be because the basis for the expected happiness in this season is tied with the ephemeral or the superficial glitter that comes with it. So the real Spirit of Christmas is absent in the heart; it is not felt.

Why? Because we focus more on the material gifts we want to give and receive, instead of offering our best selves to the One whose birth is what we should be celebrating.

However, Christmas is more than any of these external expression of happiness.

The bottom line is if we forget the true meaning of Christmas, we will not be truly happy.

In his Sunday homily, the priest shared how to be real happy this Christmas.

BE CONTENT.

To be content is to be happy. To be happy and joyful with who you are  and with what you have. A content person is a happy person.

Like John the Baptist in the Gospel, he was content being who he was – that he was not the Messiah but the one paving the way for the ONE who is.

Jesus Himself was content to be born in a manger to a simple family.

2020 has brought so much pain, but is full of lessons to learn. As many now realize, a simple life is enough to make one happy. You can still be joyful even in the midst of lack. As long as you have your family strong and intact, as long as you have good health, as long as you are together with those you love, physical distance notwithstanding — these already can bring real joy and happiness.

BE GRATEFUL

A person who is content knows to be grateful. When you are grateful for every blessing you receive — big or small, good or bad happenings in your life — you learn to be happy.

Sometimes, we complain about not having enough, or not having those things we crave for. Yet, as we ponder, in God’s own time, He will grant us what is meant for us and what is good for us.

So, as we are reminded by the Gaudete Sunday’s Gospel, and as we are now celebrating the 3rd week of Advent, let us rejoice as we anticipate the birthday of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

CHRISTmas is a blessed event in our salvation history. Christ came into our humanity to be one of us. Emmanuel ~~ God is with us! And this should be Reason enough to be joyful and grateful this Holy Season of Christmas.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

Yes — our problems now may seem too heavy for us to carry and leave a space in our heart to be happy. But do you know what can help alleviate such negative feelings and emotions?  Going out of ourselves, and giving time to help others in more dire situations.

We can be happier, when we  focus less on ourselves and be a good neighbor to our suffering brothers and sisters in our midst, so that we can bring to them the Joy of Christmas!

 

 

 

 

What the Lizard Teaches about Respect and Trust

It may seem odd to most of you, or it is something you haven’t given any thought to. But we can learn much from our fellow creatures, God-created beings like us. Just like the lizard, a common household fixture most of you take for granted.

The lizard that shares home with me is just a small, lithe, graceful brown creature with a pointed tail and 4 tiny legs.

my house lizard looks similar…but is less scaly and lighter in color than this one

Photo by Joshua Dixon on Unsplash

But do you know that lizards value their privacy as much as we do too? Take for example, my pet lizard — yes, I regard any lizard that find their way into my home as a pet, my ever respectful home companion(s).

Silent, unobtrusive, shy, and one who also values its own space and privacy, and yours — it would never bother me as I go about puttering around my home. In fact, one thing about lizards is most of them are not social.

But just like other creatures, they need food, and the sight of food is tempting. And according to the same source above, they spend their days sun-bathing on rocks, hunting for food or waiting for food to come their way. 

So when it sees me eating, it slowly inches its way up the wall where I can easily see it. It is its special way to ask for food. And I scoop a tiny clump of steamed white rice — I’ve noticed it doesn’t like brown rice — which I place in a nook on my kitchen counter. Then sensing that, my dear pet lizard, in a furtive move, crawls to the kitchen.

But here is where earning its trust is crucial. I need to respect its need for space — the lizard does not want you looking at it especially as it is about to nibble at the rice. It will slide back and let you finish whatever you’re doing.

But my lizard also knows I will never harm it at all. It trusts me enough to even let me know it has finished its meal.

You see, sometimes I feel like my lizard is a cat — aloof yet affectionate in its own peculiar way.

LESSON

Animals including insects, just like humans, deserve respect. You respect them and they respect you back. They learn to trust you, too.

We all — humans and animals — can co-exist in peace and love with one another. Yet, it is a harsh, sad reality that animals seem to be more respectful and trustworthy than humans.

“The animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans any more than black people were made for white, or women created for men.” ― Alice Walker

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” ― Mahatma Gandhi

“Animals are reliable, many full of love, true in their affections, predictable in their actions, grateful and loyal. Difficult standards for people to live up to.” ― Alfred A. Montapert

 

 

 

 

Mommy: My Beloved Rose in Heaven

Today is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, and for this reason I am sharing in full the article I wrote for the book dedicated to mothers, which I co-authored with several others. We first launched this book, as an e-Book, on Mother’s Day in May this year.

Front cover of the printed copy of the book

Mommy: My Beloved Rose  in Heaven

It has been five years, four months since God called my Mom back to His heavenly kingdom. Mommy, named Rose, was also a strong, faithful devotee of Mama Mary. This makes her more special and my memories of her more fragrant.

Front page…

My Mom, you see, was born on the feast day of the Queenship of Mary – one of the most popular Marian feasts in the Catholic Church. Years later, she and Dad, a Marian devotee too, wanted to wed on the feast of our Lady of Lourdes. But because the Church prohibits (yes until today) weddings on feast days, they got married a day after. As if that was not enough, Mommy passed on to her eternal home on the anniversary of the Miracle of Fatima (or Miracle of the Sun), again another day associated with Mama Mary.

So with that, let me recount a few vivid images I cherish about my Mom and the lessons she imparted to me that make up her total essence. Each recollection is a lump in my throat as it brings me back to my sacred past.

First, from my childhood:

I see Mom close beside me waiting for me to open my eyes, one birthday morning when I was six or seven, so she could be the first to greet me. She made me feel extra special that day. She did this too, to each of my eight siblings on their birthdays.

Mom speaking to my shy, grade school self, telling me, “Marichu, you are bright, intelligent.”

Still to my shy, self-conscious grade self, I see Mom boosting my morale and telling me, “Marichu, you are ‘kayumangging-kaligatan’ pang- Miss International yan.”

 Mom, you see, was fair of complexion, and so were my sisters. At the time, I was so aware of my brown complexion, the butt of teasing from classmates and friends who had lighter skin.

These pieces of memory show the significance of a mother’s edifying, reassuring love and belief in her child. It paved the way for me to grow more self-confident, comfortable in my own uniqueness.

More memories of Mom from my growing up years come to mind.

I remember Mom teaching my younger siblings and me to sing and draw; encouraging us to read books, and ingraining in us a love for reading. She would always tell us we already had a complete home library because we had the Bible, a big volume of the Complete Works of Shakespeare (that I still keep), and the Dictionary.

Yes, I grew up reading the dictionary as if it were a storybook. Mom had passed on to me the love for words, as well. I still see her at our dining table between chores, writing poems for my Dad while he was still at work. Mom was a schoolteacher of Pilipino and English before marrying Dad, so her love for literature and languages spilled on to me I guess.

Mom, together with Dad, established early on our daily family tradition of praying together before dinner, and eating together as well. Mom made sure everyone was present for prayers and meals because this is how a family can stay together.  This family tradition endured throughout my parents’ lifetime. In our own homes, the tradition of praying lives on. Being a devotee of Mama Mary, Mom instilled in us a love for the Holy Rosary, aside from the family prayers she composed.

Still clear to me is the image of Mom being well- groomed with a special misty sweet scent, even though she was home, taking care of her large brood. Until into her mid 80’s, she carried herself with elegance, prompting my Dad once to gush how beautiful as a rose she truly was.

I admire Mom’s way of growing herself. A full-time homemaker, yet she made sure to develop her own interests and hobbies as well. She read a lot, kept abreast with current events, and enjoyed spending the evenings listening to Dad regaling her with his day at work.

So, that’s Mom. A woman of deep, abiding love for family and for God – through firm yet gentle words and actions, she reared, disciplined, and molded us the way a schoolteacher, a principal, and a formator in the convent would. Thus, she helped produced a contemplative nun (a Pink Sister) and a diocesan priest from among us.

Growing up, I saw Mom evolved and my relationship with her deepened. Now, Mom was no longer a mere authority figure for me. She became my friend and confidante in a motherly way, especially during the biggest crisis in my life.

I saw her transformed into a doting, sometimes indulgent, loving grandmother. At this stage, having already a nun and a priest in the family, Mom became even more prayerful. With more time in her hands, she served God in the Church as a member of the Apostleship of Prayer.

One funny thing about Mom though was her penchant for shopping – like a child out to buy a new toy. Yet, that was also what made her human and adorable in my eyes.

Then the most defining moments of Mom’s character came during her final days at home, and on her deathbed at the hospital. Suffering from so much physical pain from a huge growth in her abdomen, she could only moan – in prayer! She would recite, over and over, invocations such as, Lord, forgive us! Lord heal us, O Merciful God!” So fellow patients in the ER, as well as her attending nurses and doctors could only look at her with astonishment. In the face of death, she showed fortitude.

All these precious memories are Mom’s legacy to me – the way she brought us up in faith and love, as well as her total abandon to God’s Compassion and Mercy in the midst of suffering and death. These are the enduring lessons Mommy showed me, which I hope other mothers out there can emulate in their own ways.

Back cover of the printed book
Cool Rose symbolizing my Mom…

Photo by Jodie Walton on Unsplash

NOTE: To order your copy of either the eBook format or the printed book, or both, kindly let me know in the comment box below, and I will e-mail the payment details. Thank you.

 

 

Sunday Morning Blessing

“And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that [is] upon the earth.” — Genesis 9:13

“And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and [there was] a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.” — Revelation 4:3

Rainbow on a Sunday Morning
At about 7 in the morning, this rainbow appeared after an early dawn drizzle…

It was a reassuring and delightful sight to behold God’s sign of His mercy and love in the morning sky. It was enough to perk me up as I started my day. It must be God’s message of assurance that all will be well in the world, and in my own personal life.

And to think this is the 2nd Sunday of Advent, — the message of which is about God’s mercy — and I had just finished putting up the manger scene, “belen”  the day before.

“Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation. ” – Psalm 85

“It takes sunshine and rain to make a rainbow. There would be no rainbows without sunshine and rain.” — Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

 

 

Advent: A Season of Joyful Hope and of Inner Renewal

Today’s Gospel Reading is from Mark 13:33-37

33 ‘Be on your guard, stay awake, because you never know when the time will come.

34 It is like a man traveling abroad: he has gone from his home, and left his servants in charge, each with his own work to do; and he has told the doorkeeper to stay awake.

35 So stay awake, because you do not know when the master of the house is coming, evening, midnight, cockcrow or dawn;

36 if he comes unexpectedly, he must not find you asleep.

37 And what I am saying to you I say to all: Stay awake!’

 

As we enter into a new Church year, a new liturgical year with the first Sunday of Advent,  may we remember the true essence of this Season of Joyful Hope. As we await Christmas, let us prepare not only our homes but also our hearts, by an inner renewal of ourselves.

Advent Candles

Image Source

How do we celebrate the first coming of Jesus Christ into our humanity? Here are some reminders the priest shared in his homily:

  • Watch
  • Look back
  • Look forward with expectation, with expectant hope
  • Let us rush to the Father as He eagerly wants to rush to us
  • God is inviting us to rush to Him as much as He wants to rush to us
  • In grief, there is gratitude
  • In grief, there is gratitude when we watch
  • We cannot let go of 2020 until it blesses us

 

 

 

What the World Needs More of is Love and Compassion to Help Fight Depression

“What the world needs now Is love, sweet love It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of What the world needs now Is love, sweet love No, not just for some, but for everyone”

So goes the 1965 hit song, “What the World Needs Now Is Love,” the lyrics of which were composed by Hal David and its music by Burt Bacharach. It was first recorded and popularized by singer, Jackie De Shannon. (Wikipedia)

To appreciate the context in which the song was created, 1965 was rather a turbulent year in America. From a blog post describing the significance of the song’s lyrics, here is an excerpt:

“What was happening in 1965? On January 2, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. began a drive to register Black voters. Two days later, President Lyndon B. Johnson gave his “Great Society” State of the Union address. Almost a month later, on February 1, Dr. King and 700 demonstrators were arrested in Selma, Alabama. Later that month, on February 21, Malcolm X was assassinated by Nation of Islam followers at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem. And on “Bloody Sunday” (March 7), Alabama troopers and civil rights demonstrators clashed, galvanizing the nation’s leaders to pass the Voting Rights Act of 1965.[…]”

Because the world today – pandemic aside – has become more toxic than ever, this song should be popularized again.

Racism, poverty, hatred, violence, lies, fake news – these social ills continue to plague not only the US, but also our beloved country and the rest of the world.

What the world indeed needs now is more love and compassion, specifically more time away from social media.

I have been reminded of this song recently upon getting a bit fed up and bothered with posts purportedly aimed at people with poor financial capacity and know-how, such as those in the habit of borrowing money, not paying back loans, being ungrateful for financial help, not disciplined or able to save, et cetera, et cetera,  et cetera — that are  being spread on social media, and this is what I’d like to stress here.

There seems to be a lack of discernment and understanding on the part of those who make and/or share around such posts or messages.

These messages/posts may be true and valid, but are unkind and thoughtless.

Netizens who post and spread these get on their high horse as they shame, mock, and put others down on a public forum — thinking perhaps that by doing so, they will be able to make the person(s) at whom their posts are aimed to take the hint and own up to their existing debts, finally.

They also do this for a number of other reasons:

  • Give vent to their frustration and anger (understandably)
  • Feel good about themselves
  • Feel superior over others
  • Make others feel guilt/shame

Most likely, however, these very same people may also be feeling inadequate about their own financial capacity. In psychology, a feeling of superiority or exaggerated superiority — superiority complex  — is a sign of inferiority.

Such posts become viral — because many do relate. And such posts would even be used as illustrations or memes by some marketers or finance/investment gurus promoting the value of having investments/savings and the like, as part of their strategy. Maybe they do this without any intention of demeaning others, but only to drive home the importance of being money-wise and disciplined.

Again I say, such actions are bereft of any iota of kindness. No kindness nor empathy at all! Indeed, what the world needs more of today is greater love and compassion.

For the reality is that many Filipinos would also like to save even for an emergency fund. But many cannot afford to do so simply because they are living paycheck to paycheck, or are earning even below the daily minimum wage.

Thus, they only have just enough or barely enough or almost none at all for their daily needs or for keeping their body and soul and dignity intact.

Add to this the responsibilities of taking care of elderly/sick members of the family or of their growing up children.

With the pandemic, the loss of income has become an added scourge.

So what happens is some get into debt and are stuck. Those that avoid running into a cycle of debts by tightening their belts can only afford to spend for basic daily necessities with nothing left for savings. So rather than risk defaulting on the required monthly/quarterly premium payments, these ordinary Filipinos would rather set aside what meager amount they can in the safety of their homes.

Think about this: Not all those who are not able to save or those who tend to borrow a lot have such bad attitude or have no concern for their future as described in those viral, thoughtless, public-shaming posts on social media.

Sometimes, we need to look at individual circumstances to understand what each person is going through rather than make general assumptions or sweeping statements. There is no need to shout out to these people on social media to gain sympathy or make the other person toe the line.

If your brother does something wrong, go and have it out with him alone, between your two selves. If he listens to you, you have won back your brother. — Matthew 18:15

KINDNESS matters at all times and in all situations. My friendly reminder for those of us who are fond of posting such messages on social media —

Be grateful to be in a position to save or be of help.

Sometimes the Lord will put us in exactly the same situations as those who need money in order to understand others more. If you were in their shoes, how would you feel?

In short, let us:

  • Be more compassionate towards others
  • Be grateful for every blessing we receive, especially if we are free of financial insecurities
  • Pray for them — if we cannot help others —  that God sends them other angels on their path, people who can be of more help (for example, referring job opportunities, etc.)
  • Pray for ourselves too that we may not give in to the temptation of mocking or showing disdain to others, nor of judging others as helpless or lazy
  • Be more mindful lest we be overcome with the forces of evil — that seem to abound on social media nowadays. Yes, social media is getting to be more toxic with all the venom, hate, and lies being spread around.
  • Be more discerning as we sift through the craziness and confusion social media seem to offer, if we are not careful.
  • Pass on more edifying, uplifting, soul-inspiring posts and messages instead of those that destroy others.

The lesson here is while it is true there are people who do not know how to help improve their economic situations, or do not know how to acknowledge the help they receive, etc., just be thankful to be not one of them.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in your faith, so that in the power of the Holy Spirit you may be rich in hope. — Romans 15:13

Caveat: Another point to understand, we do not often know what others are going through. This does not mean condoning such bad habits or attitude. However, especially in these troubled, difficult times, we need to be more careful in our speech and behavior.  For who knows, our unkind words and actions may lead others to depression. I will discuss this more in another post.

“What the world needs now is love, sweet love
It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of…”

Rid yourselves, then, of all spite, deceit, hypocrisy, envy and carping criticism.  Like new-born babies all your longing should be for milk — the unadulterated spiritual milk — which will help you to grow up to salvation, 3 at any rate if you have tasted that the Lord is good . — 1 Peter 2:1-3

 

 

The 5 Essential Lessons You Should Know About Grief, for Mental Health

2020 has brought so much sorrow and pain to the world, in particular our country which experienced at the beginning of the year a volcanic eruption and now the compounding impact of two recent destructive typhoons. All this untold suffering has been affecting people’s mental/emotional health.

I understand the different emotions that come with grief because every now and then,  when I think of my parents, I feel sad. The pain of losing them may have lessened due to the passage of time — and I have accepted their passing as a natural consequence of their illness in their old age —  yet it still hurts.

But for countless of people who lost their loved ones to Covid-19 or to natural calamities that took place this year as well as to other causes, it must be/have been more devastating and unbearable. Most deaths were unexpected. Countless were not given the chance to say a proper goodbye or hold their loved ones for the last time or even see them off for burial.

It was just timely that a good friend and former classmate of mine at graduate school invited me to his webinar on mental health awareness, “Building Our Mental Health in the New Normal,” wherein he discussed about loss and grief, among other things.

As my friend stressed in his presentation, “the pandemic has not spared anyone – young and old, rich and poor, male and female – around the world. We are all in the same boat, but our reactions to the stresses brought about by this health crisis, including natural calamities, differ from one another.”

Here I share the 5 essential lessons about GRIEF you should know and how to cope in order to help keep your balance. This is also important if you happen to be in a position to help someone who is grieving over a loss.

Photo by Deniz Altindas on Unsplash

Grief comes in different stages. The conventional stages as developed by Elizabeth Kubler Ross in 1969, and which most of us are familiar with, include:

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

Today, there’s a new set of stages of grief – that which has been developed by Jill Johnson-Young:

  • Going through the trauma/crisis
  • Going through what is left over
  • Finishing with the relationship that was left undone
  • Saying goodbye and reorganizing
  • Bringing the lessons and realizations to our new world, especially in our prayers
  • Honoring your feelings; all feelings are valid

Grief is not just about the loss of loved ones, but also about the loss of something, such as jobs, finances, relationships, etc. In this pandemic time, grief is also about the loss of the freedom you have been used to because of lockdown and quarantine protocols.

Grief is not linear in the sense that you need to go through from stage 1 to the next – No. Rather, grief is a process. So when we help people with their grieving process, it is not about the stages of grief, but it is meeting people where they are.

Finding meaning is the sixth (6th) stage of grief, according to author David Kessler, beyond those more familiar stages mentioned above. Finding meaning in our loss(es) can help transform grief into a more peaceful and hopeful experience.

Especially in this time of the pandemic, in this New Normal of our life today, finding meaning is part of how we can develop our Emotional Hygiene.

Other invaluable insights about coping with a loss I picked up from the webinar:

  • In the new normal, we need to have a New Mindset coupled with Action in order to get New Results.
  • Meaning is our response to our loss.
  • Meaning is what we do after we have learned to accept. It does not and cannot take away the pain. It helps us move on.
  • Loss is what happens in life. Meaning is what you make happen after the loss.

Finally,  we need to be gentle and compassionate with ourselves. We need to be kind. Kindness matters in our healing process and those of others.

All these and more I have learned from that enlightening webinar, “Building Our Mental Health in the New Normal,” facilitated by my good friend, Dr. Nelson C. Magnaye, of Ateneo de Davao University. I highly recommend it.

If your school or workplace or community/family may find the need for a facilitated learning on how to keep your mental health in the new normal, please get in touch with him through his LinkedIn profile.

The webinar is good for 90 minutes and is ideal for 50 participants via Zoom.

 

 

 

 

Finding Beauty in Our Surrounding is a Spiritual Exercise

“There is no question that the objects that surround us impact our experience of the world.”
Katherine Center, Get Lucky

Photo by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash

The Wikipedia definition of a spiritual exercise is “any practice that is dedicated towards increasing one’s personal spiritual capacity.” 

In Christian Spirituality, spiritual exercises are so much part of spiritual traditions, teachings, and practices. Spiritual exercises are meant to cultivate our interior life and to have a closer relationship with our Creator GOD.

For example, the Spiritual Exercises are a compilation of meditations, prayers, and contemplative practices developed by St. Ignatius Loyola to help people deepen their relationship with God.

Different religions have their own beliefs in a Divine or Higher Being or Power; each one has their own rituals, traditions, and practices. But what is common is the acknowledgment that we are not only physical beings. We are spiritual beings, too. And so it is innate in us to seek communion with the Divine Spirit, with GOD.

One way of being in communion with GOD is to find beauty in our surroundings, wherever we are. Especially for us Christians, we believe God is Beauty. So whether in natural environment, such as nature, or in the countryside, or right in the city, we can find God by seeing beauty in our surroundings.

I remember the first time I moved into this place. When I looked out the window, my sight was met with what seemed to be a hodgepodge of tall buildings, rooftops, and some greenery here and there.

But as days went by until today, the scenery before me is no longer an eyesore. To my eyes and heart, it is now a beautiful blend of nature and cityscape! Just gazing in silence at the outside view fills my heart with wonder and awe, more so as I can see some mountains in the distance providing a stunning backdrop for the urbanscape.

Thus, it has been almost a daily ritual to also watch the sunrise and the sunset, the changing colors of the vast sky as well as the stirring dance of the dramatic cloud formation up there. I find doing this helps me better to commune with God, whether in my prayer time or in silence. At night before I retire, I love gazing at the evening lights and at how the city view looks more sharp and striking — as a photograph — perhaps due to months of having curfew in the metropolis due to the pandemic.

Finding beauty in our surroundings can be as simple as admiring some fading flower petals…or a broken glass.

Sometimes, you just have to create the beauty you want to see.

Wilted rose petals
Broken glass…

 

I believe that there is beauty in the simplest of things if we only search for it. Danielle Wagasky, Living a Beautiful Life on Less

 

 

 

Repost: Dear Humans: A Stray Cat’s Open Letter

“Life is life – whether in a cat, or dog or man. There is no difference there between a cat or a man. The idea of difference is a human conception for man’s own advantage.” — Sri Aurobrindo

Photo by Edgar on Unsplash

I couldn’t help feeling nostalgic today. It’s my Mother’s anniversary of her passing. I also remember  my pet cat whom regrettably I needed to leave behind when I moved to a new place. So I’m always overcome with guilt at the thought of my dear cat. She used to be a stray, until one day, she came up to my doorstep, and I gave her food. Since then, Muning made my home her home, too.  And now as I remember Mom, the more I feel sad because she was a lover of animals and had a soft heart for strays.

It is a cruel fact there are many stray cats and dogs. Many are abandoned, abused, and ignored. So it always pains me to see or hear of cats and dogs being at the mercy of people’s callousness, uncaring attitude, and even cruelty — especially towards cats. I remember my old neighbor in my previous place calling me out for taking in a stray cat. In that place too, were many homeless cats and dogs.

One day on my way back from errands,  I caught sight of one parched cat clinging to some plants, trying to sip some nectar. My heart broke while feeling helpless and frustrated and angry at those neighbors who didn’t care enough.

So upon reaching home, on behalf of them who cling to the tiniest hopes that they be fed or given water to drink or be adopted, I wrote an Open Letter — partly I repost here.

I am just but one of the many wandering furry souls in your village, and every day, together with the other furry creatures in the neighborhood, we roam up and down your winding streets, climb your trees and your rooftops.

Day and night, we tread, or creep along the many crooks and crevices of this tiny conclave of yours, hoping that I and my fellow felines may be taken in, and become part of your homes.

This mission of seeking homes that can shelter and feed and care for us may take a lifetime, but still we are happy with our fate, happy we populate this place along with you, dear humans.

So at night, we may bother your peace with our caterwauling, as we exchange notes with cat friends, or safeguard our respective territories from our enemies, lurking within the shadows of your own apartments and houses.

We have nine lives, you humans say that about us.

Thus, we have somehow made your streets, or your vacant lots or even your gardens and yards as our home as well, as much as you fiercely shove us away and leave us to the harsh elements of nature and evil ways of some of your specie.

We have no choice, and we are possessed with a strange resilience in order to adapt to the way you have been treating us so callously, like garbage strewn carelessly on the roads or canals.

Sometimes, we don’t bother to give you time to let us in – you wouldn’t so anyway.

Thus, we just jump right onto your terraces, or backyards – just for a chance, if any, to have a taste of some left-over morsel from your kitchen or dining tables, to appease the raging famine we suffer from, each day of our pitiful lives, and find ourselves some shelter from the heat, or rain, or cold.

We cannot even find a bowl of fresh water waiting for us at your doorstep or yard for us to sip in order to quench the deep thirst in our parched tongues and throats.

So we have no choice but destroy your plants to squeeze off some of the bitter juice from the leaves and stems…to give us momentary relief from the scorching heat of the summer sun.

As we mark each day of our journey in this place called Earth, we look up to the heavens above to guide our steps. Perhaps, we are made to scavenge, until some of you, my dear humans, may find it in your heart to love us, as much as we yearn to be cared for, to be pet, to let us belong.

And until you do, this is how we survive, looking for morsels among your rubbish. If only these ornamental plants and trees were made for us to eat – but they are not. […]

Now my dear humans, may I then suggest that you no longer let my specie to grow exponentially – if you cannot have the compassion to care for us. Please!

It is not within our means or nature to do so, to stop our specie from growing. But you, my dear humans, have been gifted with brains and brawn and I suppose – a heart within the very core of each of you. Continue reading here

 

 

 

Contemplating God’s Presence

City blend of steel and nature…

O what joy it is to
Contemplate on God’s Creation
His Divine Presence everywhere abounds
In the gentle wind rustling through
My few potted greens
Crisp air and quiet
cool rainy day
Clouds floating in the skies…
Music of sweet birds’ sweet refrains
Or soft rain’s rhythmic pattering…
Morning pale blue sky
Crowning the distant grey mountains…
Sunset’s glow blending
With the city’s evening lights in a show so striking

Photo by Marc-Olivier Jodoin on Unsplash

Rain or shine
In stormy weather too

God’s Mighty Presence abounds…

O GOD, may we always see You,

feel You in your Creation around us,

most especially in the people in our lives and

those we meet each day…

In good or bad times, in the ups and downs

of our lives, may we never fail

to praise and give You glory, O Lord. Amen

“It is not the objective proof of God’s existence that we want but the experience of God’s presence. That is the miracle we are really after, and that is also, I think, the miracle that we really get.”  — Frederick Buechner