In the Stillness

The depths of the human heart always long for silence and solitude. ~~ Felix O. Magallanes

I speak for myself and these words ring true for me. I need to connect with my inner self for my spiritual nourishment. It may be because I’m reflective by nature. My energy easily depletes when I cannot find even a little time for silence. Silence.

But I believe that for most people this must be true as well. We’ve heard of stories of the rich, the famous and beautiful, the accomplished, who at the end of the day find themselves feeling empty.

Perhaps in the busyness of their lives, they haven’t yet journeyed deep within where they could seek the real meaning of their lives. For it is in the stillness of the human heart that discernment takes places. It is where one can communicate with the Higher Being, or for us Christians, with the Holy Spirit and listen to the voice of God.

In the stillness of the human heart also comes the rumblings of the soul as it takes in all the negativity that whirl around – the world being an imperfect place. And the soul cannot hush itself as long as the cries of the anguished are ignored. For deep within the human heart is the thread that binds each to one another.

To better appreciate this truth, and to encourage us to find a deeper mission in our lives, here is an excerpt from John O’Donohue, whose books, such as “Anam Cara,” “Eternal Echoes,” and “Divine Beauty” are – in the words of one of my nun-friends – consoling and reassuring to read…that calls and awakens all that is noble in the human heart.

THE VOICE OF YOUR OWN SOUL
When you take the time to draw on your listening-imagination, you will begin to hear this gentle voice at the heart of your life. It is deeper and surer than all the other voices of disappointment, unease, self-criticism and bleakness. All holiness is about learning to hear the voice of your own soul. It is always there and the more deeply you learn to listen, the greater surprises and discoveries that will unfold. To enter into the gentleness of your own soul changes the tone and quality of your life. Your life is no longer consumed by hunger for the next event, experience or achievement. You learn to come down from the treadmill and walk on the earth. You gain a new respect for yourself and others and you learn to see how wonderfully precious this one life is. You begin to see through the enchanting veils of illusion that you had taken for reality. You no longer squander yourself on things and situations that deplete your essence. You know now that your true source is not outside you. Your soul is your true source and a new energy and passion awakens in you.
John O’Donohue
Excerpt from BEAUTY

You may want to read and digest more inspiring quotes from John O’Donohue through this link.

I love this in particular: “If you send out goodness from yourself, or if you share that which is happy or good within you, it will all come back to you multiplied ten thousand times. In the kingdom of love there is no competition; there is no possessiveness or control. The more love you give away, the more love you will have.”  ― John O’Donohue, Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

On Self-Giving

The simple gift of self is the greatest gift of all.

The above quote is from a reflection contained in the book, Thoughts In Solitude: Capturing the Essence of Being Human” by Felix Berto O. Magallanes, in which the author speaks of sharing oneself to others not just utter words, communicating our very being, and expressing our inner feelings, to share […] as we would to one who is not totally “other,” but is part of oneself.

self-giving-waterThe most profound example of this giving of self is God’s self-giving – sending His Only Begotten Son to be born in a humble manger to become one of us. And again, as the Son’s total obedience to the Father, Jesus Christ gave up His life on the Cross in atonement for our sins and to redeem humanity.

It’s Advent. So it’s an opportune time to reflect on this wonderful gift of God’s Love, which we Christians are called upon to exemplify in our daily life by sharing our blessings with others, for example.

To help us ponder on the message of God’s self-, sacrificing-love, here are more words of wisdom about the Blessedness of Self-Giving. What I understand as the main point in the author’s reflection is that of humility. The giving of self without the temptation to seek glory, except for the Glory of God. And aside from the perfect example of Christ, the writer also mentions about Paul: With lowliness of mind, with tears, with trials, coveting no man’s silver or gold or apparel, but caring for himself and his companions by daily labour at his trade, he gave himself to teaching publicly and from house to house, going about preaching the kingdom.

I also came upon this insightful article on self-giving love. It invites us to think about these important questions: How can one person give himself to another? What does this mean? According to the writer, only each of us can find the answers. Each person has his own mind and his own free will. In the end, no one else can think for me. No one else can choose for me. Yet, at the same time, the article helps us ponder more deeply: in what sense can one person give himself to his beloved?

I’d like to add my own thoughts on self-giving; I also believe – as in the 2nd reflection I mentioned above – that the sincerity of our giving is clothed in humility, without vainglory. This truth struck me one time I was browsing through my social media news feed.

I couldn’t help noticing the postings of friends wherein they shared about the charitable activities they were doing for their respective orgs. There is nothing wrong with that. Their generosity and active participation in community-building are inspiring, encouraging, uplifting.

So just a timely reminder for us — that while we give ourselves in service to others, let Humility live in our hearts – to restrain ourselves from bragging about the good we do for others. There’s a thin dividing line between sharing in order to inspire and sharing in order to seek people’s praises and recognition.

In our self-giving, may God’s praise suffice.

My Heart Bleeds

My heart bleeds for all children of violence and injustice
in the world – dying because rulers and ideologues fight
and cling to their dominance —
people are mere pawns in their brutal games of chess

Pity the parents who cannot protect their young
from the ravages of war, famine and tyranny;
from flimsy excuses of leaders to install autocracy
just to hoard the wealth that should belong to all;
from leaders with only disdain and contempt
for their own people

The earth is carpeted
with the blood of innocents;
blackened with soot from burning flames of hatred, greed and power

Has humanity indeed descended to the lowest of pits
to take the place of beasts
who now transcend their nature to become more
noble, loyal and compassionate?

Hear the voice of the just O Lord
their cries are our pleas to you O God of Mercy
when will your Justice ever reign over us?
To separate the sheep from the goats
and spare our beloved lands from becoming a vast wilderness

If this is how the world will go on living its days
I dare pray the Almighty to please stop allowing more infants to be born
O Mighty God, Ruler of All
The fate of the innocents yet to see the light
seems doomed —
to suffer indignity or apathy from the hands of their own
flesh and blood —
or if not, what kind of life would they have in
a world where disparity and cruelty rule

When can those in authority recognize their time on
earth is limited
that they have to face You O Lord in
the Great Day of Reckoning!

The wombs of the earth shake with silent rage from
the depths of hallow graves of innocents
they await Your Great Justice O Lord

When will people’s tears crystallize
into steely resolve to snatch their rights and dignity
from oppressors —
Your Armor send to your dying
children in Allepo, here and elsewhere, we beseech You!

On Finding My Unique Writing Voice

I know I’m smart, but I don’t sound smart when I write. I know I’m intelligent, but I don’t want to sound all-knowing or intellectual. I know I’m fun to be with, but I don’t want to sound like fun.

I’m a serious person – but I don’t want to sound too staid or flat when I write. I want my articles to be able to speak to you, move you, make you react or comment. You may give me pointers or feedback or anything as long as we can strike up a conversation. To create a ripple among other readers, I hope.

I want my blog to have a far reach – especially among people my age – but anyone is most welcome. I want my blog not only as a repository of my reflective thoughts on life in general. But of opinions on issues that matter around the world today. More so with the kind of world we have today that abounds with hatred, violence, lack of civility, and the like.

But I don’t want to write about anything political or of current events. Maybe just an opinion or two about some issues. Maybe just to influence some thinking and inspire some deep conversation.

I feel shy or embarrassed whenever I tell people I write in my own blog because I feel my writing lacks something. Perhaps what they say as personality or voice. Hence what I’m doing now is an exercise to find my own voice.

I know I write with sense – but I see now it lacks chutzpah. What can I do to add some life to my pieces?

Okay. I’m writing now to you my dear friend. You know me well enough, and one thing I like is I’m able to make you laugh because I’m witty, smart. There – I’ve just found two adjectives I want my blog to sound like: WITTY, SMART (not trying hard nor trite).

I also wish my blog to sound cool, soft and flowing – peaceful and serene. Because a deep part of myself longs for quiet and calm. Like meditative sounds in the background — that’s how I long my blog to sound like.

I came across this quote; somehow it makes sense.

If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it. Or, if proper usage gets in the way, it may have to go. I can’t allow what we learned in English composition to disrupt the sound and rhythm of the narrative.”
—Elmore Leonard

Being in the Here-and-Now

Surely most of you have found yourselves at one task, yet your mind was elsewhere. I guess this is a normal part of a busy person’s life. Or of the modern person.

And many of us are not even aware that our thoughts drift, here and there. We seem to be always running after time. Catching our breaths. Cramming so many things within a short span. Mindless doing.

We lack attention. Our focus is elsewhere. We tend to think of what we have to do next.

Such is the illness that plagues our modern times. Our time has become more stressful due to the Noise that comes with our wired space/environment.

Hence, we destroy our bodies. We burden our minds. And we sap our spirit. No wonder why the world seems to experience these health conditions more and more: depression, anxiety, cancer, and other diseases.

We often forget: the best way to heal ourselves physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, is in our Being at the moment. In being present in the Here-and Now. In being mindful of our task at hand. Enjoying our life at the moment. Leaving past aches behind. Not worrying about tomorrow.

We are given ONE LIFE to live. We have only this moment — Now. Life becomes more Meaningful; Fruitful; Enriching — if we try to live in the moment. Not rushing headlong into the far unknown, nor being stuck or fixated on the past. (Of course, this does not mean not cherishing good memories and forgetting life’s invaluable lessons gained).

The PRESENT is precious and sacred. We are called by the Almighty God to relish His Gift of Today. To hold and honor it with all the good we can do in the best we can. Before it slips away…

It’s Not How Many That Matters

A lively group discussion, an intimate tête-à-tête, an inner monologue — in your view, when it comes to a good conversation, what’s the ideal number of people?

Thus goes a  writing prompt on Word Press’ The Daily Post sometime ago…and as I ponder, I find not one right number of people to include in a meaningful conversation. It depends perhaps on the purpose or setting.

For instance, in social gatherings in the family, or in school, or at work, the more, the merrier seems to be a good dictum to follow. But then one should not expect a meaningful exchange of ideas, thoughts or feelings…it’s just an avenue to keep up with each other, or feel/pretend like one belongs, not as an intruder or outcast. Sometimes big social events have this intimidating effect on me.

Mostly in this setting, it’s more fun to observe where the ball is rolling. Listen carefully and one isn’t sure if she can get the flow..each seems to be waiting to throw their own ball in this verbal ping-pong interaction that often results in a cacophony of voices that falter to meaningless ‘Ohs’, ‘ahs’ ‘uhmmmms I see’…Anyone can just drift in or out…And no one seems to mind. Have you ever experienced something like this. Did it also make you feel awkward?

A lively group discussion can be had though when there’s a meeting of the minds – no matter what the topic or where the discussion takes place — at home over dinner, in the classroom, in the gym, on the street corner — you can sense people in the group are having a great time debating, arguing, or simply exchanging views, because each one listens and responds accordingly, and each has learned something. That’s the biggest take away.

Hence, I’d say it’s not really how many people that matters to make a conversation good or meaningful. For as long as each participant gets into the flow, each voice speaks up, each gives a listening ear, making everyone feel good about themselves and the interactive moment, then it’s good, for it brings out the best in each in the group.


A Poem at Dawn

Sometimes, the Muses come visiting at unexpected moments, just like in the early hours this morning. Thus this reflection-poem of mine came to be.

A view from my window...

I

 Waking up at dawn

 I see darkness around

 Only flickering lights

 Beaming from buildings afar

 Cast a shimmering glow

 to everything below

 For a second I wonder –

Who’d need the stars?

 Nothing ever though

 can Overshadow

 the Wondrous shine from

 Those heavenly bodies…

 Yet

 in that hour,

Blackness covers the sky.

 II

Sleep still tugging at me

 I recline on the seat

 By the window

 and turn my gaze

 at the sleeping city

beneath my feet…

Everything is still

 Everything quiet

 Save for the rumblings

 in my mind

 which I quell

by my Prayers

III

Gazing by the window

I wonder

Could there be any other soul

Brooding as I do

Over the vast view

of our side of the metropolis…

Or perhaps someone

from his own window

Watching me

Watching the world outside?

Another view from my window...

Window Take 2: Perspectives

Because I can’t seem to get enough shots of my favorite window – being the only one in my present abode that gives a good view, here it is again…through different perspectives and — color filters!

The only thing you sometimes have control over is perspective. You don’t have control over your situation. But you have a choice about how you view it.

— Chris Pine

Finding Beauty in the Mundane

I enjoy looking at beautiful landscapes. They make for great photographs, especially sweeping panoramas – of mountains, fields, the sea.

Yet, as I spend more time developing my photography skills, I discover so much beauty in the mundane as well.

Silver, one among the greens in my tiny garden
Playing with angles and light and texture
While others may pull weeds from their plot, I simply let them be, including the blur.

Textured layer

“I have always been caught by the pull of the unremarkable, by the easily missed, infinitely nourishing beauty of the mundane.”
Tana French, Broken Harbour

 

 

A Piece of Heaven Beneath My Feet

As my response to the weekly photo challenge given two weeks back, I took delight in capturing this piece of heaven beneath my feet — right in my yard. Soon this piece of heaven shall become a wonderful memory of the place that’s been my home for a while, when I move.

Such a joy to see even the lowly weed can offer such dainty pink blooms...
Lovely floral weeds.
Muning, my dear stray feline, just got to be there...in the scene.
Pansit-pansitan, an edible herb used in many Asian cuisine as toppings for soups or a salad ingredient.
The pansit-pansitan just sprouts from the ground...
Texture
Rain-soaked ground. After the rain comes the sun.
Red leaves shaped like butterflies

Even in the mundane, God is present.

We can indeed find our piece of heaven wherever we are, wherever we go. Heaven is in our hearts. God is in our hearts.