What I Am Learning About Grief

“Grief is the rope burns left behind when what we have held to most dearly is pulled out of reach, beyond our grasp.” –Stephen Levine

I write this as I remember my father who has recently passed on to the afterlife.

*Grief is hard to describe in vivid detail. It takes a lot of effort and courage to do exactly that. It overwhelms because of the pain of remembering, or the fear of waking up that pain you try hard to bury. Yet, it relieves, as it helps unburden you of that pain.

All I know, as from my experience with the passing of Mom and Dad, the sadness and sorrow, as well as the joyful reminiscing of the good times, even of the bad, of happy and sad memories, all bring a sharp sting to the heart.

Although with the passing of time, the intensity may lessen, still grief remains attached to your very core.

*Grief stays in the deepest part of your being, then unexpectedly surfaces to tear you apart. Like a veil, that silently covers you in your most unguarded moments, grief comes to choke you up in tears welling up in your eyes or gently trickling down your cheeks. Your sense of loss becomes more real even as you fight off this heavy feeling.

But because of faith that your departed loved one’s soul is being guided by God’s perpetual Light, you continue to live with hope and trust, and as much closer to how they’d want you to live.

I remember Mom’s final message of love and advice to us her children through a letter she dictated to my niece, on her last week at home, as well as Dad’s tearful message of love, forgiveness, and gratitude for each of us. They both wanted us to continue living out our Catholic Christian family values, so that one day we may all be together again in our eternal heavenly home.

*Grief is when you have a story or incident to share or a question to ask, then realizing the person to whom you’d like to share or as ask is no longer around, never coming back. I was so used having had a story to share or a question to ask my parents, almost on a daily basis, even just on the phone or texts.

*Grief manifests itself in different ways – and of course, from person to person.

When Mom died, I was filled with so much sadness and pain. But Dad was still around, so our family’s loss was cushioned by the strength and consolation he provided – even though he himself was hurting and breaking inside. He was our family’s crutch, and losing Mom was bearable in a way.

Now with Dad also gone, we have to rely on one another for strength and comfort. Because I was able to tend to him in the last few weeks of his life – since his stroke in July – helping my sister nurse him back to health, my grief is all the more unbearable.

*Grief makes you hold on to precious little things – words, gestures, moments shared with your departed loved ones – like bringing alive your loved ones even through just those lingering memories.

Dad, clasping a big Crucifix in his hands as we prayed together with him…

I shall always remember one evening close to his passing, my Dad telling me “Salamat” when I gave him a little kiss on the cheeks; and when he held each of our hands to bring to his lips and tell each of us, “I love you.”

Something Sacred Stands at Death’s Door

I can never forget that moment my dad went gently into the night, and how my sister and I were completely shocked. We could only wail and feel helpless in our futile attempts to wake him up.

Yes, my dad was already at the throes of death…he had been preparing us his family for quite a while, and we knew it was just a matter of time. Yet, his passing felt so sudden even then.

Something sacred stands at death’s door, and  it must be my father’s last gesture of love and kindness. My dad did not let us see him going into the night even though just a a fraction of a moment before that, my sister and I had just been beside him attending to him.

Today, it’s been a month since Dad is gone. Please say a little prayer for him.

My father’s urn during a memorial mass for him at the Pink Sisters’ convent…

 

 

 

 

The Call to Serve the Lord: Giving Care to an Ailing Parent

Sunday thought July 28, 2019: Last Sunday’s Gospel story of Martha reveals something of Luke’s depth in presenting human psychology.  The irritation of the “dutiful daughter” Martha mirrors our own when we are filled to the brim with responsibilities.  In this vein, Pope Francis cautions us of “Martha-ism” or excessive industriousness.  Those who overly immerse themselves in work inevitably neglect “the better part” of sitting at Jesus’ feet and listening to His word.  “Rest” is also a necessary duty when one’s work or mission is completed.  We have to spend some time with family and loved ones and respect the holidays as opportunities for spiritual and physical replenishment.  As the Book of Ecclesiastes says, “There is a time for everything under the sun.” – Fr. Gil A. Alinsangan, SSP

From another homily delivered by an SVD priest during today’s Sunday TV Mass, I learned about 4 Elements of Prayer:

*Being persistent
*Being disposed to the Will of God, which means to:
Trust in the Lord
Have faith in God’s Love and Mercy
*Being sincere
*Being transformed

The Call to Serve the Lord: Giving Care to an Ailing Parent

Listening to the priest’s Sunday homily today on the 4 elements of prayer as well as reflecting on the other priest’s thoughts on being too much of a “Martha,” I was struck by the coincidence in my present situation.

For just earlier in the wee hours of the night during my shift in watching over my sick, bedridden but recuperating Dad, I was thinking of the difficulty and challenges of being a caregiver especially for someone suddenly entrusted into this situation.

Comes a time for many of us when we are indeed called to put our lives on hold. Like when we have to care for our aging or sick parents.

When we were infants, they spent sleepless nights for us: feeding, cleaning up, bathing/dressing us up,  giving our medicines, comforting us whenever we cried or felt sick —

Now the wheels are turned! The call for me to serve the Lord at this time comes in the form of giving care for my ailing, elderly father. And these are the things I am now doing for him.

For the past several weeks since my Dad had a stroke, I have been staying with him and my sister, on alternate weeks, to help care for him.

And these thoughts from these two priests moved me to ponder about my current daily life, and how these insights can help family caregivers in general.

REFLECTION

First, we must offer our daily life — as an Act of Prayer.  That each chore or task or errand is our prayer of offering or sacrifice to God.

I understand for secular or lay people, it isn’t what we are used to do. For most, daily tasks and demands of work, home, and studies are apart from prayer/praying.

For example, even though I have already been practicing this as much as I can, I still forget. Many times I go about my day doing what I need to accomplish routinely, hurriedly or mindlessly.

Not as a loving offer of praise and gratitude as it should be.

More importantly, each task we need to do must be in obedience to the Lord. It helps to look at our situation — whatever it may be — as the soil in which God has planted us to grow in faith.

Looking at our daily life as an act of prayer encourages us to fulfill each task or chore the best we can and with joy in our heart.

This is important for caregivers, and for us Christians in general because such attitude is our best weapon to keep negative emotions — for example, irritability or impatience — at bay. Especially when you have to take on a big, heavy responsibility such as taking care of a sick or elderly parent.

And this is where the temptation of being too much of a “Martha”– or what Pope Francis refers to as “Martha-ism” or excessive industriousness” distracts us from fulfilling the duties of being a caregiver with love, compassion, and joy.

For instance, if you are a caregiver to an elderly or ailing family member, you may feel all responsibilities of taking care of your loved one are heaped upon your shoulders. So while you may accept the situation wholeheartedly, at some point, you may feel drained especially if you tend to do things all by yourself, without asking for help or taking time out to rest.

WARNING

If you do not watch out, little strains soon come creeping up on you until you can no longer carry the weight of your present situation with equanimity and grace. When this happens, the quality of your care and interrelating with your needy loved one may suffer. Every little mistake or appeal for help becomes irritating and burdensome. This can happen to the best of us, even though we love our parents so much.

Besides, the devil is always on the prowl for souls to ruin. And the more we try to be good, the wilier he gets looking for our weak spots.

Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for [someone] to devour.” — 1Peter 5:8

GUIDELINE for CARE-GIVING

Thus, it will be for our spiritual good and emotional well-being to understand deeply the 4 elements of prayer to use as guideline in answering the call of God – how, when, and where – He wills.

That means, we are to live every moment and carry out each task  as family caregiver as our Prayer. We need to be:

  • Persistent in praying for His blessings and guidance
  • Open/disposed to God’s Will, and this requires our complete trust and faith in His Love and Mercy
  • Sincere in obeying God and in interrelating with those around us, especially those needing most our care — our aging, ailing parents, in this case
  • Transformed — that is, we seek to grow more loving, more compassionate sons and daughters, not only being dutiful towards our parents

“So humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your worries upon him because he cares for you.” 1Peter 5:6-7

Caring with Compassion and Joy                    Photo by Isaac Mehegan on Unsplash

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why I Can Never Forget My First Travel Abroad

It’s been over two months since my first travel outside the Philippines, and here I am still reeling from this incredulous feeling of finally, “I made it!”
 
Everything about my travel – the places my son and I visited, the food, the people there, and all these that I narrate here – make my first travel abroad something I can never ever forget.
 
Thanks much to my son who invited me, my long time dream of going abroad has come true — and traveling SOLO at that! Of course, my son would be there to meet and fetch me, then take me around. You see, he often goes to Singapore as part of his job, so he wanted me to be able to visit the country while he was there.
Me and the mini Merlion somewhere along the Marina Bay – a photo taken by my son, my avid photographer during my stay at the Lion City

Yet, the prospect of traveling abroad all by myself – getting to the airport and back (from the trip), and going through the long process from check-in to security check, and flying alone with strangers — was daunting enough for me because that meant getting out of my comfort zone. I’m used to being assisted especially in new situations.

 Last year in fact — as I shared in a previous post — the chance to travel overseas already presented itself to me. Not your regular adventurer at heart, I found many excuses to back off.
 
But this time, I mustered the courage to embrace this golden opportunity, for such may no longer come my way. Besides, my son had already bought my plane tickets at short notice, too. So clever of him for I’d no longer have any excuses to say no.
 
With little time to prepare my mind, my heart, and my things, “a drum of anxieties was revolving in my consciousness” (to quote Alain de Botton in his book, “The Art of Travel”) days prior to my scheduled flight.
 
Worrying about losing my way at the airports (here and at Changi), my hearing impairment, and my natural clumsiness even at my age, I was getting to be a big bundle of nerves as the time drew near.
 
Despite my own research on what to expect for a first-timer traveler, plus lots of pointers and encouragement from family, I still feared making mistakes. Which I had on several instances. After all, I wouldn’t be me without my bloopers!
 
My family and some close friends understand how I also hate taking a taxi on my own, or going home late, much less taking myself to the airport back and forth.
 
Yet, anticipation and thrill, together with my complete trust in God that He’d take care of me overtook me. An act of faith, as one good friend said.
 
Thus from my Grab ride to NAIA to my surprisingly pleasant experiences going through each step, and everywhere I went “already the confusion and jitters of the present moment were receding.” (Alain de Botton).
 
Today, I am still reliving the sights, sounds, and flavors of Singapore — as if it were only yesterday. Already I’m missing my first taste of authentic Hainanese Chicken rice and soup, the very first meal I ate right at Changi Airport. I want to go back to Singapore and explore more.
at the Marina Bay, Singapore with the Esplanade in the background – the first area where my son took me right from the airport
Capturing the Marina Bay Sands on my 1st evening…

Ah traveling abroad – even for a short stay – does open a wider perspective and a great way to know myself more! I’m giving myself a BIG pat on the back as well for taking up the challenge.

Funny but the urge to travel again to a new place is creeping up on me now.
 
Most of all, I am overflowing with gratitude  and I thank God for this blessing. Indeed, all these that I have overcome with grit and faith and my loved ones’ moral support make my first travel abroad an experience that will last forever in my heart.
While waiting for our lunch to be served, I took a shot of this view of the Marina Bay Sands from the National Gallery of Singapore
 
One of the waterfalls at Cloud Forest at the Gardens by the Bay – I was careful not to let my phone slip from my hands while taking this photo
Silhouette of the Marina Bay Sands looming in the background

 

NOTE: You can find two more related articles on my Singapore trip posted on another blog of mine:

Vignettes of My First Overseas Travel

Flying to a Dream

Do you still remember your first ever overseas or first ever solo travel? How was it? Please do share about it on the comment box below.

Starting 2019 On a Positive Note

HAPPY NEW YEAR everyone! Welcome 2019!

Two weeks into the new year, and I’m still keeping up my good spirits, which I should be if I want to make 2019 a much kinder, brighter year than the last.

And I invite you all as well to start this year — 2019 — on a positive note.

Let’s do our best to be THANKFUL for every BLESSING, big or small, that comes our way. Something may or may not be what we truly want or hope for. Still, let’s be grateful for it because it’s the best way to keep negativity at bay.

We start with this — with GRATITUDE in our hearts — to create a positive mindset as we greet each new day.

Most of you I’m sure have your own resolutions to be and do better this year. So do I.

I hope I’ll be able to stick to them, for I’m making sure these are doable for me. I hope it’s going to be the same for you.

One of the things I keep reminding myself to do is: Prioritize and focus on the task at hand. ONE at a time. I should quiet my mind from distractions.

I find multi-tasking no longer as effective with me as in the past. I cannot segue from one task to another hurriedly lest I become absent-minded. My memory is starting to slow down. Ahhh, the travails of aging!

But sometimes, situations will arise where I still need to attend to several things at the same time. In which case, I must remind myself to pause a bit in between. And this works better for me now.

I end this post by sharing a Prayer for the New Year, which I came across online.

Lord

Whether I leave behind

a year of joy or of trials and difficulties,

I pause to GIVE THANKS.

Thank you for being with me

Every day of every year.

Thank you for making all things NEW

And for giving me the grace of

Fresh starts

And New Beginnings.

Remind me of your presence in the days to come,

Even when I feel pushed and rushed by

Busyness.

Be Glorified in My Life This Year.

~ AMEN ~

heatherking.org

 

 

A Look Back at the Fading Year 2018

Three years ago in the last quarter,  I wrote this in a Facebook post of mine:

“…it’s been almost 2 weeks since I moved into this place which I now call home and share with my son, this time, with my eldest. […] Somehow I feel like a tourist in a strange land. With an inventive mind such as mine, it’s so easy to pretend I’m now in a place like Manhattan in NY. I’m no longer in my house on the prairie which I shared with my younger son and his family […] nor am I in my tiny English cottage by the woods which I shared with my dear feline friends.

“Now here I am in the heart of the bustling metropolis learning to ease out of my reclusive mood. What I get to enjoy is being able to keep house and prepare home-cooked meals for my son […] and having human company to converse  with, not just my plants, or my cats, or my favorite lizard…”

Now three years hence, and I’m still conversing mostly with my plants, my new set of lizard friends, some ants. No cats at all. Not that I mind. My son’s hectic work schedule and his personal life leave me all by myself most of the time.

On one hand, I’ve gotten used to my own company and still preoccupied with my part-time work, personal projects including this blog, my photography hobby, among other things. Yet it can be quite depressing at times.

Looking back, my life’s roadmap this year has been a riveting mix of ups and downs. On the upside, I’ve accomplished many of my goals. Topping them all was self-publishing my first eBook ever, Finding Your Authentic Self: A Path to Wholeness, which took me about 3 months to write.

But circumstances — such as work and financial problems — can be so overwhelming that without faith, I would’ve come crushing down. I must admit times when my very faith comes asunder letting me go on a roller-coaster ride with my relationship with God.

Like a child lost in the woods, I keep running to find my way — yet the farther it takes me away from home.

When doubt assails or bitterness creeps in, I quickly remind myself God is with me, in me, around me. He’s just hidden in the clouds.

My eyes look at the clouds to seek God’s face among them, somehow hoping to see Him in the concrete as well as in a deeper, spiritual sense. When I come to Him in prayer, I either feel empty or full of hope. When tears fall, I know deep in my heart, He has heard my cries, and suffered my agony too.

I find myself grieving still over my Mom’s passing, even after 4 years. As they say, something is taken away from you when your mother dies. So it is with me. During my difficult times, I miss my Mom’s strength and comfort.

I find I’m an irony unto myself. I, who long for human interaction and real conversation, has shied away from most invitations to social events and meetups with friends this year.

But I’m made of sterner stuff. My faith in God remains strong despite some backsliding. My faith in the goodness of others is still alive, my love for my family unshakeable, and my confidence in myself intact despite my defeats.

I’ve come to a few realizations:

  • A structured schedule for each day works best for me
  • I should assign a particular day for each important chore
  • I can no longer lump together in one day chores that use up too much energy
  • Less multi-tasking so I can focus
  • Must include writing practice, learning and reading into my daily schedule
  • Less social media and news reading
  • Back to book reading and journaling
My reading list — books I’ve read (since 2012) and current readings

Through all my ups and downs, God has been my Shield, prayer my best tool. I remind myself my human frailty is the devil’s strength. So I must always keep myself in check and keep God’s hope and promises in my heart.

“They that hope in the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar as with eagle’s wings; They will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint. –Isaiah 40:31

This is the trajectory of my life this year — and I hope and pray 2019 will be kinder to me, with God’s grace. That like an eagle, I can soar to new heights. I do believe.

I also pray for strength, clarity, and comfort for anyone dealing with their own pain and struggles.

Above all, I hope and pray for greater peace, compassion, unity, less violence and negativity,  as well as maturity in social discourse, especially in this Blessed Season of Christ’s Birth. Merry CHRISTMAS and a Peaceful, Brighter New Year to all!

Essentials You Need to Grow Your Friendship

Friends come and go, we often say. Indeed, as we grow older, some friendships fall on the way, so we just move on and grow into other friendships.

As we mature, we discover some friends were not real; others, we may have outgrown.

But to answer the question —

how do you make a friendship grow?

I’d like to quote one Indian proverb: “Don’t let grass grow on the path of friendship.”

Like a garden covered with overgrown grass, the beauty of friendship can easily fade with neglect. You can only see the weeds, unless you remove these and nurture your garden of friendship back to life.

Yes, unless you nurture your friendship, it will not grow. Come to think of it — each friendship is unique…special in its own way, so much like the variety of plants and flowers in your garden. Each needs its own nurturing care, love and special attention.

These are the essentials you need to grow your relationships with your friends if you are to keep them for life.

Sometimes, all it takes is a simple message of “hello, how you’re doing” or “what’s up” or “are you alright“– just to make them feel you’re not taking them for granted. This is especially true with long-distance friends whom you seldom see.

Thus, with my own set of friends, I try to give time to make our friendships grow.  Time to chat a bit through social media (or even like or comment on their posts) or see them in person.

Cupcakes of friendship ~~ photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

I only need to make time (though sometimes I fail too) for each of my friends,  for lunch or just for a cup of tea or tall glass of iced coffee, with a cute cupcake to boot, to make life a little sweeter with our bonding moments.

Since life makes us busy every single day, going out with friends can be quite hard and means giving a little sacrifice.

Whatever it takes for you, cultivate your friendships through making time and communication.

It’s nice to have real friends — not just fair-weather ones — who can journey with you through the different seasons of your life, through your ups and downs, especially as you age.

 

*Note: I’m reviving this post I wrote way back in 2015 with minor revisions.

3 Cardinal Virtues You Need to Be a Better English Learner or Teacher

Are you an English learner whose mother tongue is not English? Do you come from a non-English speaking environment? Or are you an aspiring or practicing teacher of the English language? To be more specific, are you someone whose native language is not English, but have the passion and capability to teach the language?

Then read on, for this post is for you.  Perhaps at some points, you may be having difficulty in your English language studies. Or if you are a beginner teacher of  English, self-doubts sometimes cloud your mind.

Photo by sean Kong on Unsplash

In this article, I want to share 3 cardinal virtues: faith, hope, love — that help English learners and English teachers be better. I won’t be discussing the education/training, skill set and other credentials  an English language teacher must have. I also won’t dwell on how learners can read or speak better and other related learning tips.

Rather, I’d discuss the necessary disposition learners and teachers alike should develop if they are to achieve their learning or teaching goals and succeed. Continue reading “3 Cardinal Virtues You Need to Be a Better English Learner or Teacher”

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”

Anthony de Mello’s “The Song of the Bird” – A Reflection

I cannot fully describe my total experience while going through each of the pages of this extraordinary book “The Song of the Bird” by Anthony de Mello. It was an assigned reading by my Spirituality professor in graduate school some years back. And this reflection was a requirement of that course, so here goes.

When I set out to read, I tried to put myself into a proper frame of mind. I created a mood in order to get a feel for what the author says: “the mystical.”

I knew being mystical was more than just feelings. So I seriously followed the third suggestion of how to read the stories – in a prayerful manner.

Most of all, I tried to open my mind, heart and spirit for the grace of wisdom I would hopefully gain.

Story after story, I went and slowly some things would strike me now and then but only superficially, I felt.

Later I discovered I must not predispose myself in a way too expectant nor too presumptuous, for what I found most enlightening were those that I read in a humble way.

Like what most of the stories have to say, we must not be too engrossed with the future. Neither should we be buried in the past because we must live in the present. We must become aware of what the present has for us.

If we do so, sooner or later the beauty of the moment unfolds before us to savor, to experience, to have. Then we cannot just analyze nor rationalize. We just have to let each moment be. And let us be still in the moment. Be in the silence of the present.

Like the fish who keeps looking for the big ocean, I learned I must keep still. I must listen to the silence of myself and to the lessons that were being imparted to me here, little by little.

I should only let my heart be open and let my mind be still. I should stop walking ahead, wandering around because I couldn’t just force wisdom into my heart — just because that was what I intended to find.

I also learned that this is how we usually go through life. We race ahead to the directions or goals we have set for ourselves, as if the future is all there is to life.

What also strikes me about the book is the varied sources of inspiration drawn from different religions. That they all speak of searching for the Truth, of being one with Creation. Most of all, these stories speak of finding God in our everyday lives.

Indeed – we are of different faiths, of different races. But we all have the same stories to share, the same longings for our same God, the same aspirations and ideals. We all can learn from one another.

I was most struck by one story here, “Change the world by changing me.” I believe that this is one powerful prayer that can really ‘move mountains’ — if only we are humble enough to first transform ourselves and ask God to help us.

Because I was definitely changed somehow by most of the stories, I decided to share the book with my youngest son and asked him to write his reflection. May I then take the liberty to share with you what he wrote verbatim:

Reading this book has made me strengthen my faith in God. I am grateful that as I was reading, a lot of questions stirred inside my heart, meaning I am not contented with my spiritual life because being contented means that I already know everything there is to know about God which I think is an impossible feat.

My questions led me to the fact that I was created in His image, a little lower than the heavenly beings which makes me greater than all things here on Earth but that God is infinitely higher so there is a vast difference between us. He knows all the answers to my questions but He may not reveal those to me since He said that there are things that are hidden and are for Him alone. And it is a good thing because His ways and thoughts are not my ways and thoughts. So seeking answers that are not meant for me may be dangerous to do.

And to those questions that are answered, I will keep always in my heart knowing that those will help me experience God better. Also, it will help me lead more souls to Him. I am always looking forward to questions to pop in my mind because each question answered will help me become a more mature Christian.

 

I intend to read this book again and again, for each time, new insights are revealed.

NOTE: I’m reposting this  piece of mine — which I first posted here in 2013 because this book offers timeless gems of wisdom. And it’s a timely read as well. If you can get hold of a copy of this great resource, I invite you to do so. But read each story as mentioned above — in a prayerful manner to get the most of it.