Soliloquy – An Anguished Soul Speaks Out

You get stuck. Again. Something makes you stuck.  As ever.

And this perhaps is why you never can get your blog off.  Why you can’t attract as much traffic as you want to. As you need to.

Fear. Yes, fear is what keeps you from writing with your whole heart and soul. From conveying as much as you want to – in the way you want to express yourself.

You’re afraid of giving a piece of your mind about issues that matter today.

COURAGE – this is what you ought to have. Yet…

Now look at this quote — it’s supposed to inspire a trying-hard writer like you. Oops, never be too harsh on yourself. Please.

“The beautiful part of writing is that you don’t have to get it right the first time, unlike, say, a brain surgeon. You can always do it better, find the exact word, the apt phrase, the leaping simile.”  — Robert Cormier

 

But it doesn’t really apply to you, right? In the context this post is about?

All you can think of now is how saddening to see how much the world today is ripping itself apart. Hatred. Violence. Injustice. Destruction of the environment. Loss of respect. Enmity between kin.  Apathy towards others. So much division, disunity, disintegration. So much Evil…

Others may tell you – hey,  this has been happening since time immemorial.

Yes. So you push back and ask —  why then has humanity not learned anything at all from the lessons of history? Is humanity that hardened, dense, fragile, weak …or just plain overcome with EGO? Must we just tolerate the negatives within and around us?

You start to feel at times your faith – in God and in humanity —  slipping. Especially when you read the news. The bad news all over. Or reading ugly debates on social media. You try to avoid these as much as you can. Yet you cannot totally do so.

There — you’ve bared your soul. You’ve expressed somehow that pain in your heart.

This one seems to be a perfect guide for you — by Leonard Cohen

“Ring the bells that still can ring, Forget your perfect offering, There is a crack in everything, That’s how the light gets in.”

And this is your reflection for now. You do NOT have to be as gifted as others nor try to be like them. For as long as you speak out your Truth. That’s your Life Purpose. Just be your Authentic Self.

For from Love and Goodness you have been created. SO it is upon you to answer that call to be the image of the ONE who has created you and the rest of the Universe. That’s being authentic.

Your authentic self is meant to provide light to those you meet on your life’s pathway. But it’s still your Choice.

To let the LIGHT from within you to radiate to others. And give Hope. It is upon you to share that hope. As you journey with others. You encourage others to grow into the best person they can ever be — by being the best you can ever be too because you have that hope in your heart. You choose to be that kind of person.

Yes you feel anguished, helpless, hopeless about the state of affairs in society. You even start to think that animals have become more civilized than humans, transcending their very nature of just living for themselves. You see how different species – enemies by nature -unexpectedly learning to co-exist peacefully and enjoy each other’s presence. You see and hear of stories of loyalty and love pet animals provide their owners.

Yet do not despair. Remember? Despite humanity’s brokenness and because of that very crack in humanity, the LIGHT of the World has come to save, to redeem us all.

It means despite our brokenness as  human being because we are not perfect – just like everyone else — there is that spark of Light within each of us. Within you.

Still in your own capacity, and with God’s grace – you can help bring the Light, and Hope, and Faith to others. It behooves upon you to rise above your own frustration and anger at what is happening in the world to spread even  a ripple of kind thoughts or deeds.

In whatever way you can. Through your writing perhaps. But remember  you can only do this with LOVE in your heart. Spread the message of love, hope, and joy, especially as it is almost the Season of that LOVE that has come to save.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear…  — 1 John 4:18

 

9 Nuggets of Wisdom Harvested from Farmville

For some years, I was busy planting crops, fruit trees, vegetables and a rich variety of plants on my moderate-sized farm, which I also surrounded with ornamental plants, shrubs, and trees to make my farm look inviting.

a corner of my farm…
my farm grew in size and changed landscape every so often…
an aerial view of my almost crowded farm…

I also raised farm animals, like hens, cows, pigs, horses, and took care of some domesticated animals like cats.

Through time, I was able to grow my farm, even building structures inside, until it looked more like an estate fit for royalty. <BIG Laugh> Continue reading “9 Nuggets of Wisdom Harvested from Farmville”

Any Place is HOME As Long As…

Home, as they say, is where the heart is — and for me, that would mean any place as long as nurturing love and care abound. Thus, aside from my family and the comfort food we enjoy, I also see pets and plants as symbolic of Home, for these elements of Mother Nature nourish my spirit, my soul in so many ways as I nurture and care for them. Through pet animals and plants, I enjoin myself with God’s creation, so in that way, I nurture my own spirituality as well…

Note: This post used to contain photos of some of my plants and my pet cat…however, they disappeared when I changed my WP theme. Oh well…

What I Like About Life

 

This article is an old one of mine which I already posted in a different site which I have no longer access to. I actually wrote this while I was still teaching at a language school, so I was writing this for the benefit of our EFL adult students who were of different language proficiency levels.
What I like about life, although it is a constant struggle, are the fascinating discoveries I encounter as I go through each day. Like jewels that shine, or spices that perk up, they come in different ways and forms and they provide me with something good to look forward to, day by day…like small things I learn about those around me, people I meet, especially those who have become special in more ways than one.

I have come to accept that life indeed is a great mystery and there are countlless things my limited human mind cannot easily comprehend. So I have learned to ask “Why” much lesser than i used to. I have learned to accept and appreciate more whatever comes my way. Sometimes, I tell myself to be careful for life is a big tease, full of sinful delights and life is like a bubble, too…hold on to something tight and it bursts. Continue reading “What I Like About Life”

CHANGE: How To Deal with It

The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft a-gley, [often go awry]” — an oft-quoted line from the  poem “To a Mouse,” written in 1785 by Scotland’s Romantic Poet, Robert Burns

 

Indeed, life is such that you can never be totally certain everything will turn out the way you have wanted it to be, for

Life is an adventure

Whatever its course,

At each bend, at every turn,

There’s a hurdle to leap

And some of those hurdles you meet may come in unexpected events in your life which you may be ill-equipped to deal with– like a sudden illness, or death in the family, or a change in relationships or jobs/workplace; whatever, the unexpected occurs; the anticipated doesn’t happen, or not according to plan.

Life is not complete without the changing seasons, and we know that things do happen out of season as well. Just observe the many climate changes the world is experiencing today.

So how do you deal with these unexpected turn of events in your life? As people are different in the way they handle changes — some are better than others at coping with surprises that life throws at them — there are also various ways of facing them.

Here are three ways of dealing with changes I personally observe:

1. First, you must be ready to accept the change, and embrace it for all it is worth, including your fear and anxiety over what is going to happen in the near future.

2. You can look at any change in your life as a reflective, learning moment, for one thing is sure: change always teaches a lesson. You can look back, ask yourself what you did, or what went wrong, and focus on how to correct and make things better. Or you can just reflect on it as a natural part of the rhythm of life.

For example, if you somehow find yourself unable to work due to a sudden illness or health condition, it may be a call to live more in the present, and to not worry too much about tomorrow. Most illnesses, according to medical studies, are caused by too much stress, thus weakening our immune system.

It is time to “stop by the roadside and smell the flowers” — indeed, life is too short, and so precious to just let it pass us by. We need to balance between ‘hurrying’ and ‘staying in the moment’…between doing and being.

I remember my tendency in the not so distant past to always move about quickly, and hurrying through the myriad of tasks at home, and in school. So perhaps, this physical pain that I now have — an unexpected happening in my life,  is such a reminder for me to slow down, not just in a physical way — but rather, in a more spiritual way to appreciate each moment as I lose myself in it, freeing my mind of any disturbing negative thoughts, as I try to make the most of this new pace as I live in transition.

3. Finally, you focus on and gather your inner and outer resources: your innate strength, sense of adventure, optimism, and most of all, your faith; your family and other support groups like your closest friends.

Believe that you have the strength to carry on; take it as an adventure. Just like me now — due to my present disability, I have to stop classroom teaching and continue to teach online. I also have taken up an online writing job, both of which I hadn’t anticipated I’d be doing.

Look forward to each new day; it may not be easy at times, but just flow naturally with the ebb and tide. Open your heart to the blessings of a new day, new hope, and soon, everything will be much easier to bear. More so, if you have faith: in yourself, in the people around you, especially your loved ones, and in God, then life still remains as beautiful and blessed as ever, and you emerge a stronger, better person.

In the end, it is all about being positive about change. You cannot control everything that happens in your life, but you can do much to withstand the challenges that change brings.

A Message on the Great Fr. Reuter

As my first share with www.englishallyoucan.org, here’s a piece by Lotis Key regarding her experience as a young girl. Read on and find out what relationship she had with the late great Father James Reuter. — A. Ramirez

I Love You Father Reuter

I was twelve when my parents divorced.

My father was a tall, golden haired, blue eyed American, who’d served in the Pacific, and returned home flourishing a delicate souvenir from the Philippine Islands.

My tiny mother, observing this new world through almond shaped eyes, looked up to see tall, white America, bending down to examine her. They spoke slowly and loudly at her, remarking to each other, “Isn’t she cute?” My mother had her Masters, a PhD in English literature, was fluent in four languages, and did not like to be referred to as cute.

After two painful decades of having to buy her shoes in children’s stores, she broke the law, and with two half-white daughters in tow, escaped back to Manila.

I wasn’t yet a teenager when we stepped off the ocean liner. The intense heat, the constant swirl and hum of laughing, yelling people, was overwhelming. My mother moved quickly to hide us, and within a few weeks, my younger sister and I were installed in a Catholic girl’s school: St. Paul’s College of Manila.

It was unclear. We were barely religious, maybe only very slightly Catholic … at Christmas. Who was St. Paul? We were children, why were we going to a college? Ah, the confusion was only beginning.

Both of us came equipped with English, Spanish and casual French. The lingua franca was Tagalog, which we could not read, write, nor understand.

Both of us were much taller than the Asian girls our age. My sister was a blonde. I had a forest of curly hair. Like a nightmare in slow motion, we were buried alive, in a landslide of shimmering, pitch black tresses, that flowed from the heads of graceful, miniature nymphs. These girls didn’t guffaw their laughter, they giggled demurely. They didn’t argue a point; in disagreement they pursed their lips and lowered their eyes. They didn’t push or shove; they pouted and turned away slowly, lifting high, one perfectly curved eyebrow. We were wildflowers blown into a hothouse of exotic orchids. They wanted to talk about love. They looked us over and asked … did we have a brother? We had no brother. Ohhh, tooooo baaaaad.

We also didn’t have the right shoes. The right socks. The right book bags.
This was the 1960’s and we’d been raised by bohemians who’d encouraged us to speak our minds, ignore our appearance, and argue both sides of Fidel’s take-over of Cuba.
We were American peasants in bad need of a full spa make over.

To make matters worse, we had no father. Not only had my mother married a white man, she’d divorced him, and retuned home with two fatherless girls. This information produced a wave of deep shock that washed over everyone around us. Where is your father? Will he come to get you? Will you see him again? Does he have another woman?

My sister, being younger, took it more in stride and prospered, artfully winning friends with her honeyed locks and dimpled smile. I closed and toughened. My mother had managed to escape imprisonment on the wrong planet, and one day, I would do the same. I was an alien who would never, ever, paint her fingernails.

Then, one morning, studying alone on the stone steps of the school chapel, my life was changed. I looked up, to see a tall man in a white cassock crossing the quadrant, Sister Nieves, and Sister Joanna, hurrying to keep up with him. He was talking in the loud voice of the white male, not hushing his tones for propriety’s sake. He was striding along purposefully, not mincing his step to accommodate the women. The bright sun on his golden hair haloed him, making his approach akin to that of a bright comet. Was I dreaming? Was this a saint? Was I dead, but didn’t know it yet?

The angel marched straight towards the chapel, and hypnotized by my approaching destiny, I froze. Looking down at me, a homeless animal crouching on cold stone, he smiled and said brusquely, “You must be the fatherless girl”. His eyes were blue, blue, blue. This was the first white man I’d seen since having bolted America. In coloring and shape he looked startlingly like my father, whose memory was evaporating within me.

Sister Joanna said, “Her name is Lotis”.
Sister Nieves said, “Lotis, this is Father Reuter”.

I was paralyzed, like the kitten before the tiger. Father Reuter, put his large, white gold hand on my curly head and said, “Come, talk to me, I’ll hear your confession”. Confession? What was that? What should I confess? That I felt ugly and stupid? That I hated this place? That I hated myself? Ignorant of the concept of personal sin, unaware of what confession was supposed to consist of, these were the things I told him.

I talked to Father Reuter that day, and many, many more days, over the years to come. He heard my “confession” in person, every week or so, and the rest of the time, I talked to him in my heart, in my dreams, in my prayers. In reality he didn’t treat me any differently than any other little girl. I was no special pet or favorite. I don’t know if he even thought of me at all outside the confessional. I am unaware if I ever made any particular impression on him. No. It was him who made the impression on me.

Father Reuter, had been sent to the Philippines, by the Jesuits, just before WWII and was interned by the Japanese. At wars end, the Jesuits asked him to stay on for a bit, and he did … returning to the U.S. for a visit, only once, in the next 60 years. There was nothing of the effeminate about this priest. Nothing soft, flabby, or repelling. His love was not vague, distant, or carefully guarded. A gruffly practical, quick tempered, get to the point!, kind of priest, he could grab you by the back of the neck, give you a shake, stare you down, and demand immediate love and obedience in the same instant. He was a steely eyed, unflinching priest, who rarely whispered when he could shout, loved with an iron fist, and was simultaneously feared, and adored, by all who knew him.

In this day of gross immorality, I don’t know if anyone can understand, how, without the slightest hint of sexual impropriety, a little girl can love her priest, and find her salvation through him. But it is true. Father Reuter was more than a man, or a priest. He was a father.

Before I knew God in the personal way I now do, I knew Father Reuter in place of Him. Before I could accept God as my Father, Father Reuter was there to model that role for me. I was a lost child, who might have been lost forever, if not for this celibate male taking me for one of his children. He encouraged me to speak, and communicate, my thoughts. He pushed me to develop my voice. He made me understand that even if I didn’t fit in, I was valuable to him.

After high school I went on to a life filled with many elaborate diversions. I did foolish things, and was pushed by a curly haired, wild nature, to adventures that sorely tried all around me. I can remember times I would pause for an instant and think, “I should go to Father Reuter for advice”, but pride mixed with shame, would erase the impulse. In my heart nestled a deep fear he might no longer love me. Anyway, I was an adult now, capable of dealing with life.
I no longer needed a father of any kind.

I finally did go to see Father Reuter, but only recently, some 40 years since I’d last seen him at my graduation. I’m not taller than I was in high school, but bent over with age he was now shorter than me. His trembling hands and feet, were misshapen with arthritis. His golden hair was gone. He was wearing his cassock and seated in a wheelchair, yet when I entered, he struggled to rise, and kiss me.

I looked into his eyes and they were blue, blue, blue. I was twelve again, and struck dumb with love. I could barely talk, and in his fatherly way he understood, and did the talking for me. Nothing important really, just making enough sound to ease the tension and let the ghost years slip away. As time dissolved between us, the feeling of his strength, the powerful force of his love, the intensity and vigor of his fatherhood, coiled and wrapped itself around my heart, pulling me to my knees before God, in the very deepest of gratitude for this man.

Dear, dear man, I never said this to you, but I always wanted to:

I love you Father Reuter, and I always will.

 

Update: The above piece was a story shared by one of the people who supported me when I was starting this blog. In the beginning, this blog was open to anyone and to my students who wanted to share their thoughts and stories. But many of my friends and students lacked the time or the inclination to really write. I have kept their posts though in appreciation of their support for my blogging effort. A huge thanks and much love to you all! — Summer

Hope Eternal

There’s a smile in

Every flower I see

There’s a melody in

Every bell that chimes…

There’s a goal in

Each bird’s flight,

As well as a gold pot

At the end of a rainbow…

There’s solace in

Every tear I shed

There’s hope in

Every tomorrow…

There’s peace

After each trouble,

As well as calm

After each tempest…

Yes, there’s love in

every man’s heart

And tenderness in

Every mother’s eyes…

There’s always joy

In each one of us

As well as goodness

In every worst in us.