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.

Cherished Habit

“Above all, do not lose your desire to walk: Every day I walk myself into a state of well-being and walk away from every illness; I have walked myself into my best thoughts.” –Soren Kierkegaard

I like this quote…how it sounds like and resonates with my idea of being able to relax, with nothing in mind, but just being in the moment -without even having to think about finding myself.

Especially since I have moved into a community where walking is inescapable. Almost everything I need is within short walking distance. This makes me imagine I am in another place. Continue reading “Cherished Habit”

The Home That Nurtured My Dreams

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

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

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

Continue reading “The Home That Nurtured My Dreams”

My Handmade Tales of Love

My mom’s handmade shawls for me crocheted with much love

Automation has made it possible to produce so many objects — from bread to shoes — without the intervention of human hands (assuming that pressing a button doesn’t count). What things do you still prefer in their traditional, handmade version?

Nothing gives more joy to me than food or drink made from scratch – like brewed freshly-ground coffee, just the aroma of it is enough to perk me up long before my first sip;

and nothing tastes more heavenly than fresh-from-the oven bread or cake my son has baked…

Photo by Natural Chef Carolyn Nicholas on Unsplash

and what instant soup can ever compare to the delectable scent, oriental flavor and rich texture of traditionally-cooked soup, one that you cook with meat bones and tiny-diced veggies and spices for close to 4 hours?

I just love thick hand-crocheted shawls, just like the ones my mother patiently handmade for me, for nothing else can give that feel of warmth and coziness on a rainy or cold day or night.

And I cannot resist the beauty of hand-crafted decorative items that can adorn the home, or be used for a purpose — native food baskets woven from bamboo or rattan, cross-stitched table runners and doilies, hand-painted bowls, to name a few.

Thus, I look back with fondness to my grandparents’ house which was of colonial Spanish style. Inside were hand-crafted objects, like their wooden intricately-carved furniture and hand-sewn lace curtains.

I still relish handwritten notes and letters, as well as writing longhand in my various journals, some of which have been handmade with recycled paper, stitched at the edges with lovely yarns of thread.

Traditionally cooked food or drink, handmade objects, are always a delight to have, for they bear the imprint of the person that made them.

Photo by Carli Jeen on Unsplash

They are feasts to the body, soul and mind, and each toil that goes into the making of that special object or food carries a tale of Love, a handiwork of the Heart.

When I am grown much much older, and my granddaughters will have been bigger, I shall tell them all about these…my handmade tales of love.

 

Daily Prompt: Handmade Tales

 

Luke 15:1-32: A Reflection

 

Luke 15:1-32  presents three parables of Jesus Christ that revolve around one theme: the recovery of the lost. Something was lost, but it was recovered. What is very striking for me is the seeming incompatibility between what was lost and the manner by which it was recovered.

One sheep, from among a flock of sheep, strayed and the shepherd left his other sheep just so he could look for and bring home his one lost sheep. One against a hundred-it seems an insignificant number, negligible so to speak. Yet, for the shepherd, this one lost sheep was still his sheep, and it was worth his time of search.

Similarly, a silver coin from among ten got lost, and the woman owner had to spend much effort sweeping all over her house in order to search for her one lost coin. Today perhaps, the tendency for those who have plenty is to not mind such negligible loss.

Then we see the father of the wayward son, who even without any certainty of his son’s return, kept waiting, perhaps night and day, for his son. His son finally came to his senses and decided to go back home, and he was sill far-away, but the father already saw him. Continue reading “Luke 15:1-32: A Reflection”