Saint Ignatius of Loyola taught me to be in awe of the best things like stars in the heavens. For this year, I will continue doing the Examen – another thing he left for us – only in the yearly perspective. I learned of doing a Yearly Examen through an article published in Aleteia last year, and I plan to do it again this year.
A few days after my Dad arrived in the US for a short vacation, I lingered on the thought of going as well – not for a vacation but for two reasons: 1) spending time with my Dad and family, and 2) stepping out of my comfort zone again.
Before the flight which we only booked four days before the scheduled departure from the Philippines, I felt so anxious, because I did not want to leave home.
I told my Mom, “I love you, so I should stay.”
But she assured me that just because I will leave for a short while does not mean I did not love her.
Going out of my comfort zone, taking on another international trip by myself for a second time, talking with other people, practicing speaking in English, and standing on my own two feet on this once-in-a-blue-moon chance from God – these are all for love for her and my Dad and the Lord.
Ever since I’ve been working at home since January 2017, I rarely get to do what I used to do when I was still working: reports, submissions, presentations, pitches, and weekly team meetings.
I was worried that I did not know how to converse with others anymore, let alone be street smart, because there was no need to be street smart anymore for I was home.
Likewise, I was afraid that I did not know how to travel by myself anymore, as compared to a few trips I had on our last visit in the US on May 2015. If you knew shy anxious me, you’d know it would take a lot of self-encouragement, prayers, and moments of saying ‘Yes, I’m going,’ and ‘No, I’ll just stay.’
But finally on a Saturday, I decided I will be going again on a flight over the Pacific.
*Featured Photo courtesy of my cousin Jango!
For the first two times we’ve visited Vegas, we were able to go to Mt. Charleston in December 2014 and to Red Rock Canyon in June 2015.
Although we did not climb any trail in Charleston, playing in the snow (my first time!) with my cousins is a memory I will hold dearly in my heart.
Years went by as my cousins from my Mom’s side of the family grew up and made their memories together, while we lived in the Philippines. Any time with them, no matter how short, is not to be taken for granted.
So when we had our first reunion in years (!) with my Mom and I in Vegas, one of my biggest and special dreams (one that is not related to an ideal career or lifestyle) came true.
Several small round yellow fruits covered the Iba tree’s branches.
My cousins and I used to eat the fruits when we were younger. I don’t know if it is its season this summer, but this tree is thriving. I didn’t even know that we still had it until I heard it from Tito Pads, one of my Mom’s older brothers.
“I thank God that many families, which are far from considering themselves perfect, live in love, fulfil their calling and keep moving forward, even if they fall many times along the way. The Synod’s reflections show us that there is no stereotype of the ideal family, but rather a challenging mosaic made up of many different realities, with all their joys, hopes and problems.” – From Pope Francis’ Amoris Laetitia, an exhortation on love in the family
Families are like clothes with differently colored patches. Some can be big or small, some can be more colorful, some can be colorless.
But what makes up these clothes and holds them tightly together are the tiny fibers, threads, sewn to make one functional cloth.
It doesn’t matter so much if one cloth is more vibrant or vast than another – what we must see is how strong the threads are, how willing they are to hold on to each other to make it all work for God’s vision for family, home, marriage, love, and fellowship.
Though we may feel the cloth stretched all over, like it would burst at the seams any second, we are reminded that there is no perfect family, no perfect marriage, no perfect couple, nor child. But with all our flaws and humanity, we can be made perfect through God’s example of sacrificial, unconditional, abiding love. He is the One we can look up to in living our roles responsibly, excellently, and lovingly as members of our families and as members of the body of Christ.
How big our cloth would be! May our threads be strong as well. If someone falls or hurts himself, may our fabrics be sturdy enough to catch him. If someone is sad, may our cloth be soft and comforting. If someone is growing, may we make it bigger. If someone is cold, may we provide the warmth.
I once heard from a homily that truly, God’s love is relational. We have the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We have St. Joseph too, Mama Mary, and Jesus.
Family is a divine and beautiful thing, and I’d like to think we are all related not only through law or by blood, but because we are all adopted children of God. Brothers and sisters all over the world.
I cannot emphasize enough how much family means to me and how much I want all of us to love one another.
This watercolor painting was made for our organization Ang Ilustrador ng Kabataan’s Annual Catalogue 2017.
We drove through a long road. Some parts had arching trees, some had upright ones, some had none, but most of the path made us feel protected.
We were behind a tricycle carrying slender tree trunks (bamboo shoots, perhaps?) on top of its canopy. Behind us was another tricycle. As the one ahead turned right to a path going to another barangay, the other followed. We continued forward.
At a crossroads after a 10-minute drive from the town, we turned left, and the road rose to an open gate that led us to a silent monastery on top of a hill in between the mountains in Castillejos, Zambales.
I knew little of Las Vegas… From how it was portrayed in some movies, it’s this place with bright lights, casinos, and partying. It definitely has the bright lights, casinos, and energetic vibes throughout the Strip where most of the big casinos are, but as my Mom and I came to stay there with our relatives for our vacation last December 2014, a different side of Vegas showed itself.
What stuck to me the most is that this is the city where a few of our relatives call home. My Tita Mila’s home is where the family reunions are held, because our relatives from my Mom’s side are in California and Arizona, so Vegas is the midpoint.
If You Feel Too Much: Thoughts on Things Found and Lost and Hoped For by Jamie Tworkowski
This book traveled from the US to Philippines shores, landed on the hands of a dear friend, and eventually made its way to me on September 3, 2016. The other night, I kept it close to me after I finished reading it.
Denise asked if I wanted to buy, so she could ship both our copies together. I said yes for three reasons:
- My friend is a strong advocate of healing for people who suffer from mental illnesses
Denise echoes beautiful virtues like healing and hope through her writings and art. Over coffee earlier this year, we met and she mentioned how mental illnesses aren’t taken so seriously here in the Philippines.
And then a few weeks ago, she posted something on Instagram about how she wanted to use art and healing together – to be an art therapist is the right term! (She also would want to be a professional book hunter – I think she already is; she knows so many hidden bookstores in different cities and online!)
I was touched by her heart to a beautiful cause like this (and To Write Love on her Arms), so I bought If You Feel Too Much too, to show my support to her vision and to people who went through this kind of difficulty in life.
She also told me about how she wanted to be an intern for To Write Love on her Arms. (If ever you’re reading this, Denise, I hope you try to apply someday!) 🙂
What I love most about the Filipino culture is that we are grounded on God and grounded on family.