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

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

How to Stay Positive Even In a Lockdown

It’s a Thursday morning, 78 days to Christmas and the 208th day of lockdown. The skies are gray and I’m feeling a bit down, but glad to see the sun shining through.

Despite how I am feeling, I choose to see the brighter side of things. I choose to let sunshine enter into my life.

Thus, here is a list of random thoughts I scribbled here and there in my notebook and journals which I’d like to share today.  These thoughts to ponder are my tips on how to stay positive even in a lockdown.

Photo by Eduard Militaru on Unsplash
  • As  is often said, the best antidote to one’s feelings of hopelessness is keeping the faith, being strong and positive. This can be real hard especially if we are beset with problems that seem insurmountable. If you are experiencing this right now, just know you are not alone. Each of us has our own difficulties to face — but then there are others in more desperate conditions.

 “If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.”

  • Each one of us has our own “Dark Night” of the soul.
  • No matter how dire the present situation is, God is ALWAYS with us all, in each of us. He never forsakes us. We just have to experience our own Dark Night of the soul — for it is there we are strengthened and emboldened to SEEK GOD more and more.
  • Let us clothe ourselves with humility and love and adorn ourselves with kind thoughts and good deeds. Digest the Daily Bread for the sustenance of our spiritual lives.
  • When you are tempted to put others down, put yourself in others’ shoes. If you feel it hurts you, it probably hurts the other person, too.
  • There will always be someone who will find you beautiful, and someone who will find you ugly. The big difference will be in how you see yourself. Be confident and secure with who you are.
  • Though Up, UP HIGH we may Soar on the wings of success, may we still learn to keep our feet on the ground.
  • We all have only ONE life to lead, and each moment is precious. But it goes on quickly. Thus, let us make each moment last through our good deeds, words, and thoughts so that each moment will be filled with God’s blessings and graces.
  • Let each one of us be blessings to others, to our family and friends as well as foes.
A Good Morning indeed…

Source of Image on my screen (not downloaded)

Photo by freestocks on Unsplash

 

 

 

My Difficult Journey as a Writer Finding Her Unique Voice

I’ve been thinking about this certain quote by American writer Jan Clausen for some time —

“How can a writer express what is most vital in her experience while anxiously watching her tongue lest she slip the wrong word?”

Then I came across an old scribbled note of mine from four years ago. I wish to share it here so you’ll see how I then thought of myself as a fledgling writer trying to find her unique voice. Oh, in fact, I wrote something along the same vein in a previous post – around the same time, On Finding My Unique Writing Voice.

Back to my scribbled note, most of it is still true of me though writing for work no longer takes too much of my time these days.

A work-in-progress, that’s what I am, as far as my being a writer (I’d like to think that of myself) is concerned.

I still have a long way to go before I can find my unique voice – in my personal blog and in the pieces I write for my work (even though I remain anonymous) – but I’m getting there.

Each time I post a piece of work content, over which I’ve spent precious hours laboring (researching, drafting, revising/editing, formatting, fact-checking, etc.) I get a huge relief and a sense of achievement, yet always with that nagging thought I can still make it better in the next article or post.

The more I write, the more passionate and committed I become to honing my writer’s skills, growing my craft, as they say.

My random personal thoughts find their way scribbled on my private paper journals every so often – there is nothing like handwriting…easier to get into that “sacred state of flow” as Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a psychologist, describes that zone of “heightened focus.” Some I type in my digital journals, or in my personal blog.

As for work, I need to discipline myself to get wired in, the earlier in the morning, the better it is.

Like those athletes out there in the Olympics aiming to win even just a bronze, or breaking their personal records, so do I also aim to better my writing best with each piece I compose.

I used to teach writing, – enjoyed it much – but never thought writing for work is full of roadblocks: mental block, or doing my daily routine outside of work, of course.

And these I find as both a distraction and a diversion, each one pulling me away and pushing me back at the same time into the mode of writing and shutting me off from my immediate environment.

I cannot go back to class for now, though I hope so in the near future to attend writing workshops, or to secure a personal mentor to give me feedback.

Fortunately for me, in this age of the internet, there are many good and reliable resources for neophyte writers like me in the field of journalistic writing, blogging, and content-writing that I make use of.

Perhaps, this is why God has put me where I am now, so that each time I look out to the horizon – literally and metaphorically – I can see new frontiers waiting for me to forge, the doors waiting to be unlocked. The key. Myself. And I thank God so much for this talent and passion He has given me.

All for Your greater glory, O Lord!

Back to the present, nowadays, I continue to write on this blog of mine, not caring anymore whether there will be someone to read it or not. I write for the sheer delight of it without having to seek an applause or approval. While I still yearn for those caring enough to critique my writing for the sake of improving, I just content myself with nurturing this passion. I continue to read a lot and learn more about writing from experts.

As to the above quote, my writer’s voice is still a caged bird yearning to be free! Perhaps because I avoid discussing or expressing my opinions on difficult topics, such as politics — which most people on social media find it easy to do. But what I don’t like is how most opinions degenerate into expressions of hate or personal attacks, or how the rantings go on and on in each and every post ad nauseam.

Perhaps I still lack the courage or the venom or enough writing chops to help me crystallize my thoughts on such topics. Yes, many of the things happening in the country and in the world bother and pain me so much, or make my blood boil in anger and frustration. Yet, I’d rather write about what I think can help you and I grow to be the best human person we can become as we are meant to be by God.

Perhaps, in a future post, with the right words and form, my writer’s voice will find its way to say what’s on my mind.

One of my few attempts at digital 3D painting…

 

 

 

Sign of Hope

“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” — Desmond Tutu

The other day close to evening, the sky was overcast with dark, purple clouds threatening heavy rain. I didn’t exactly relish the thought of another rainy evening but my heart leapt with joy at the sight of a glimmer of light in the midst of the gloomy clouds.

Sign of Hope

“What oxygen is to the lungs, such is hope to the meaning of life.” — Emil Brunner

 

The Most Meaningful Preparation to Make for the Coming Christmas

“Once in our world, a stable had something in it that was bigger than our whole world.” – C.S. Lewis

92 days to Christmas! I am sure many of us Filipinos as well as the rest of the world are having mixed emotions about the coming Christmas season. Can there still be Christmas, no doubt many are asking in their hearts — especially those who have lost loved ones, jobs, and livelihood.

True, we are living in such a most difficult, painful, stressful time, with the COVID-19 pandemic showing no signs of abating until a safe vaccine is found. Given this, despair and fear can easily take hold when sickness, death, and loss are around us.

Yet, amidst the gloom, it is heartwarming to hear of stories of sharing, caring, and helping one another. This indeed is the most meaningful preparation we can make for the coming Christmas. Opening our hearts and doors to others. Being more kind, understanding, and compassionate.

Christmas this year may be totally different from what we have been used to — but isn’t it time to celebrate Christmas in the way it is meant to be — without the trimmings?

To make this year’s Christmas more meaningful, especially in light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, may we celebrate it with more love to share, with more humility to accept our circumstances.  For after all, Jesus Himself was born in a stable rude, in the company of animals and a handful of poor shepherds.

I find the lyrics of this Christmas song for children simple yet so full of insightful reminder for us all. Each of us even in our littlest ways can do so much to light up the world around us and bring cheer to those who are suffering or in pain. Let each of us reflect the Light of Christ through our words and deeds, and maybe God will grant us the miracle we yearn for at this time – for COVID-19 to go away.

The Friendly Beasts

1 Jesus our brother, kind and good,
Was humbly born in a stable rude,
And the friendly beasts around him stood,
Jesus our brother, kind and good.

2 “I,” said the donkey, shaggy and brown,
“I carried his mother uphill and down.
I carried his mother to Bethlehem town.
I,” said the donkey shaggy and brown.

3 “I,” said the cow, all white and red,
“I gave him my manger for his bed.
I gave him my hay to pillow his head.
I,” said the cow all white and red.

4 “I,” said the sheep with curly horn,
“I gave him my wool for his blanket warm.
He wore my coat on Christmas morn.
I,” said the sheep with curly horn.

5 “I,” said the dove from rafters high,
“I cooed him to sleep, so he should not cry.
We cooed him to sleep, my mate and I.
I,” said the dove from rafters high.

6 Thus every beast by some good spell,
in the stable dark was glad to tell
of the gift he gave Emmanuel,
the gift he gave Emmanuel.