The Irony of Happiness in Curse and Pain in Blessing

[Disclaimer: This is strictly a Christian’s thought.  This is not, in any way, intended to provoke arguments with those outside the Christian community. Discretion is advised.]

You might be under a curse and you might not know it. On the other hand, you may be blessed and you’re not even aware of it.

One of the greatest misconceptions that I have observed and realized is our definition of the word “blessing”.

Way back in college, I had a Japanese sponsor who, from time to time, met me for a dinner and a casual talk. Bearing in mind that it was not an accident that I met this person, God must have had a purpose as to why we crossed paths. I was not really equipped back then but I tried to evangelize and stimulate him to try to rethink things in a different perspective. He was an atheist and he caught me off-guard when he asked me that if there is a God, why do most Filipinos live in dire lack of basic necessities, considering that Philippines is a “Christian” country? And they, in Japan, are living abundantly without even believing to a deity. I was not ready to answer that question. Until I reformulated my definition of “blessing”.

Material abundance or whatever we construe as blessing is not and will never be classified as true blessing if it isn’t used for God. Anything that leads you away from God or the will of God – material or financial abundance, relationships, career path, anything that you prioritize above God – is a curse. Whatever we have must align first with God’s will and must therefore give Him honor before being qualified as blessings.

Jim Carrey once said, “I hope everybody could get rich and famous and will have everything they ever dreamed of, so they will know that it’s not the answer.” Apparently, a lot of people have striven hard opening a lot of bank accounts, reaching the peak of fame thinking that it would give them the happiness and security they are craving for, only ending up still dissatisfied and unhappy. At the end of the day, they still feel the need to fill a gap somewhere within.

I came to think what’s really with the most expensive foods served in the most expensive settings when you don’t have the people to share it with?

How about a substantial amount of earnings while not having the time for your family? I remember a kid who looks for his yaya when he has problems, and I remember the pain of the mother because her own son doesn’t seek comfort from her.

How about living in a humble abode and having a complete happy family? Growing your own food in the farm and getting to eat fresh organic harvest? Or sometimes experiencing both the “lack” and “how God fills the lack”?

What’s with having a complete body and you use your your hands for stealing, your feet for bullying, your eyes for lust? Nick Vujicic has no limbs but inspires millions worldwide. My cousin is born blind, and she never gets the chance to engage an eyesight to cruelty or pornography.

How could you consider a love a blessing if you are cursed of hiding from people close to your heart who supposedly are sharing with you the happiness you feel just because you’re in an illicit relationship? Or the guilt that’s haunting you? Or your children forsaking you because you left their mother?

How could you consider a relationship a blessing if it hinders you from serving God?

How about instead of saying “This sickness is a curse”, you say “I am blessed because a lot of people care and their love overwhelms me”? How about because of our sickness, we experience provisions and healing?

What about experiencing a deeper form of joy than receiving a gift when it is you who give and make others happy?

What about near-accidents which would make you value life? A heartache which would make you turn to God? A loss which would make you value what’s left? A weakness which would make you kneel and a trial which would make you trust the Lord?

Scarlet Cuts

Leaked, each crimson drip more precious than ruby stones
Withered, baked and hardened like wilted rose

Each plunge tapped the ground like knocking sound
Scorched by the sun’s wrath, tarnished soon

From scarlet cuts came cherry drops
Smeared, some descend lived not long enough

Amidst the gentle gust
Came the stench of rust

Every drip took His breath
Every stream gave us life

Because the Father willed
Because we all have sinned

Twilight Trance

The soft and warm rays gave luster to her countenance, brightening up the smile of chapped lips it carried. A striking contrast of the backdrop of pristine waters and gentle waves made it a spectacle.

Eyes displayed the tangerine glimmer as she stared endlessly into the horizon. Wrinkles were brought to life, like I time-traveled for a score and beheld and pondered for the very first time.

These rays that bestowed this moment’s magnificence are the same rays that gave her hands’ chestnut-colored spots through the years.

Laid on her lap was her arm proudly decorated with scars of timeless service and lavish outpouring of love. To and fro, her foot tapped for its signature mannerism while her index finger wandered and doodled on the fine particles of quartz and minerals.

I wanted to witness the flash of memories that moment provoked inside the small world she was suddenly caught up to.

The sun displayed its mundane glorious dusk. Ironically, it was different during that time. Its upper-half was glistening, as if it would be its last, above the horizon that was slowly devouring. The last light seemed unwilling to pave way for the stars to twinkle, like summer leaves not wanting to fall.

My mother’s gaze finally lost the last beam. Please take care of your niece when I’m gone. Into the silence, we were stilled by her last remark. Like nothing happened, we all mindlessly stood and headed for the beach hut to spend the night.

Evanescent Existence and Midnight Solitude

You’re alone and you’re still up on the wee-hours – a perfectly conducive circumstance for your pre-sleep ritual. You lay down on your bed and you’re just there with eyes fixed on the ceiling or head covered with the cold side of the pillow. You start making up scenarios in your mind – your plans, your could’ve-beens. You direct a mini-movie with a loved one where you dictate the dialogue. You’re in control of all that’s happening. At times, you end up contemplating about life in general; varying every night within the wide spectrum of life’s more significant affairs.

My hands are itching to write about this bothersome reality that has been preying on our minds from time to time. Something beyond human control. Those times when we witness (or just avoided) an accident, when we comfort a friend who lost a loved one, when we’re too stressed out and we end up questioning what is it really all about that we scramble too much and chase after worldly stuffs when someday we’re gonna leave ’em all anyway, or when we’re enjoying the family time and suddenly we ask ourselves until when are we gonna enjoy the bliss of having them all around us. This thing sometimes veils itself behind our fears; Fear of getting infected with this new strain of virus, fear of being in the next to-be-hijacked plane, fear of the darkness, the depths of the oceans, wars and rumors of war, even fear of things that don’t exist and a whole other bunch of paranioa-induced imaginary things.

You start to be health-conscious. You take precautionary measures. You keep yourself vigilant and informed. You’re not alone. Science is in pursuit of immortality or at least pushing life expectancy higher – cryogenics, high-pressure oxygen chambers, advanced medical technologies, reinforced cave or underground dwellings – name it all. Eventually, everyone will be weary, and then you realize how fragile and vulnerable life is. Even in the absence of external determinants – accident-causing mechanical failures, terrorists, lightning bolts and super typhoons, among others – internally, you do not have any sort of assurance whatsoever that you’re gonna be around tomorrow or even in the next few seconds. You start to think about the things that you have done. You start thinking about your family, the remaining days of your parents and how are you gonna compensate the time unspent together. You start to think about all the people close to your heart. What if they suddenly stop existing? or what if you suddenly stop existing? You start to think of where are you really sailing your ship, what kind of footprint are you gonna leave, what are you really after for and what happens when everything comes to pass. All of these stuffs point to a common bottomline – Death.

We are not really afraid of getting sick, we’re afraid of dying because of the sickness. We’re not afraid of getting into a flight headed for a dive in the ocean, we’re afraid that we’re bound for a 0.0002%-chance plane crash death. We’re not really afraid of the ocean deep, but of what’s in it and what is it gonna do to take away our lives. We’re not afraid of the dark, but of someone or something in there that’s gonna drag our feet and devour us. We’re not afraid of war, but of dying from a stray bullet or a grenade thrown at our very own front yard. All of these things have the same salient point – our fear of dying. From a typical mindset, this is kinda terrifying reality that we all have to face. Picturing either ourselves or a loved one in that situation, it’s a terrifying thought for us. Death is just lurking around the corner. It’s scythe is only a few millimeters above our necks while we’re asleep. Nobody stays. This is one of those absolute rules where there is no exemption. Whether we die and decay or taken by a chariot of fire straight to the heavens, we don’t get an eternal residence permit on this planet.

The 24th of March, 2014, marked the presumption of death of the 239 people on-board the ill-fated MH370 flight. Along with them, around 150,000 other people from the rest of the planet faced the sting of physical death on that same day. This statistics includes the English author John Rowe Townsend, a Ukrainian activist, a Brazilian guitarist, an American illustrator, and probably a few ordinary and historically insignificant people from my and your hometown. All lived different lives and gave varied contributions. All died in an ordinary day. This is an everyday truth. It’s just that only the unusual and personal tragedies have more significance to us. Hence, we react differently. The famous and the ordinary eventually pass away – in published and unpublished manners. Everyone is as ephemeral as a wave tossed in the ocean.

What are we doing, by the way? Establishing our security from our soaring career and high-paid jobs, strong foundation and walls of our three-storey residence, bank accounts, what else? We resolve into these reasons to give solace to ourselves by obscuring away the fact that life is indeed fragile and that certain things are beyond our control.

When all is said and done, these aren’t the things that will matter. When my whole family was watching a sunset on the beach during my birthday, I remember my mother seeing herself as the setting sun and her whole life suddenly flashing before her eyes. She realized she’d be gone soon and told me to take care of Ishi. On the opposite face of the planet, probably some rich man on his death bed had also been making sure his family is in good situation before he leaves this world. One day, at the twilight of our lives when we are too weak to engage ourselves with the things that temporarily steal our minds from the opportunities to contemplate, we will be left to face the question of what things should have been prioritized, who do we want to have been remembered as, or what purpose should have been fulfilled by our existence.

A Short Story

Sa ilawom sa balay ni Digoy nga wa na puy-i..

Ay, puno naman mi. Duha na akoang anak: si Bemboy ug si Toto Sambit ni Dadat. Suwayi lang sa uban. Sugpon pa niya.

Ay, di lang ko ah, di ko ganahan. Ingon sab ni Ening sa iyahang pagbalibad samtang gahipid sa iyahang kwarta-kwarta nga mga putos sa dulsi.

Galuha luha nga mipadaplin ang bata dala iyahang sako unod ang mga duwaang pinggan, baso ug uban pang gamit kunuhay sa balay. Mitulo iyang luha samtang gakuha siya’s iyahang mga galahan para iplastar sa balas. Gahilak siyang nag inusara.

Hala patay mong Tiya Myriam, wa man gud ninyo paintraha., nadunggan niya sa iyahang likod. Wa na lang niya tagda, nasaboran niya pag-ayo kung unsa ang balatyagon sa bag-o lang gyud gidalu-an ug “pagdawat”. Pirteng sakita.

PAGKAGAHAPON

Mga alas kwatro sa hapon..

Pagkahuman sa lima ka segundo nga tulog-tulogan, mata na kunuhay ang magpamilya. Nagtutbras-tutbras si Toto bitbit ang sanga sa bakhaw. Naghukad ug balas si Dadat sa bagol, gibutangag kahoy para kunuhayng kutsara para ipamahaw sa iyahang mga anak. Drayber si Toto sa jeep padung sa San Carlos. Pinggan nga plastik iyahang manubela. Nipungko si Donna sa kahoy nga pungkuanan sa likod ni Toto. Gi-ablihan niya iyang pitaka nga plastik sa Sweet Corn nga sitsirya. Nia ra akoang plete, singko pisos., sambit niya samtang gaduhol sa usa ka dakong bisala (sea shell). Aguy naa may dakong bato! Ni-untol ang jeep! ingon ni Toto. Agay! sambit sa mga pasa pasahero sa likod samtang gituyo ug untol ilahang lubot, isip nalangay nga reaksyon.

Mao ni rutina sa managsilingan nga maghigalaayng gaduwa sa halos matag adlaw ug “balay-balay”, kung sa diin mag arte-arte silang mga dagkong tawo na nga gapangabuhi.

Wa gitiwas ni Bemboy ang iyahang gita-od nga duyan, miduol siya ug miingon, Ali na Tong, intra na lang sa amoa, igsuon ta. Mama nato si Dadat.

Dili na ko! Diri na lang ko. nalagpot akoang luha ug laway pagsambit nako dalang wakli sa kamot ni Bemboy. Oo, ako to ang bata nga gidalu-an ug pagdawat.

Daghang panghitabo sa atoang kinabuhi nga nagdala ug kasakit, hilabi na kung makaagi tag balibad ug pagsalikway. Pero gaabot ang ti-un nga pagbalik tan-aw nimo sa mga panghitabo, magsakit na lang imohang tiyan ug kinatawa. Abi nato, sa pirme na lang, nga mao na to ang pinaka sakit nga mahitabo sa atoa, kay na preso ta sa sitwasyon, didto ra nakatutok ang atoang atensiyon. Pero daghan pang ihanyag ang kinabuhi nga mas hilabi. Padayon tang gadako. Pero sa pagdako sa lawas ug pagkunot sa panit, importante gyung gatigulang pod ang pangutok. Kinahanaglang makita nimo imohang kaugalingong naay mapunit nga leksiyon sa tanang di maayong nahitabo sa imoha, ug maka amgo ka nga tinuod gyud nga ga hingkod gyud diay ka (ga mature ba). Ayaw’g sugti nga magpabiling way buot imong pangutok, kay sigurado ko, di gyud na mubagay sa imong opaw, kuyos nga lagos ug one-seat apart nga pangag.

With age, comes grace and wisdom.