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.
“Behold this wonder: a living, moving, startling likeness of who we are, who God is; what God awakens, when God sleeps on the crossing wood of our manger. We have lost the wonder of it all, lost the gratitude, lost the likeness of who we are, who we are meant to love, how life again could matter. No wonder, God came to us as a child in a manger.” – Startle, Fr. Jett Villarin, SJ
On January 2017, I decided to become a freelance artist; I was able to work with good clients during the first quarter of the year.
By the half of the year, I decided to start writing a book I’ve planned in my head.
In September 2017, I published my first ever e-book called Seedlings: A Short Story Collection. I am thankful to those who bought and said good things about it.
Being consistent in posting drawings and stories in Instagram too helped me in practicing my skill and getting my work out there.
Earlier this week, a kind and talented person I met over at Instagram and Arriane Serafico’s #daretoshareIGChallenge, Ms. Cindy Wong Dela Cruz of Filipino book curator 8letters, offered to publish and distribute Seedlings as hard copies! What a dream!
I am very thankful for all of these blessings and opportunities.
But last night, I felt anxious. I felt scared. I felt sad.
It was the 21st of August, 2017.
It was overcast the moment I opened my eyes and gazed at the window. The sky and possibility of rain in the Las Vegas Valley tempted me to stay longer in bed and sleep, but I decided to get up instead.
My cousin Jango stood there in the bathroom, fully clothed as if for a hiking adventure. I did not know that the eclipse would take place at 9:00 AM in our area.
“We’ll be going to Exploration Peak for the eclipse,” he said.
I hurriedly ran back to the room and changed.
This May, I find that my realizations and lessons revolved around purpose, perseverance, and relationships.
I’ve always deemed ‘purpose’ as something that is singular, grand, and fixed. It would show itself to me like this: Arli, you will work someday in an animation studio you love. If it doesn’t happen, then my purpose is gone in this world.
Sometimes, we relate it to our job or what we do for a living as well, and if our interests do not match our work, we think that our purpose is somewhere else.
Over the years, I’ve read articles and found myself dwelling on those that help you find your purpose.
Upon consulting the dictionary, these are its exact words for the definition: “the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists.”
Steward, keeper, caretaker, custodian.
These are words that I may have taken for granted over the years growing up. I didn’t look up for their meanings in the dictionaries nor was I attracted to them the same way I was attracted to long and different words like serendipity, june, or mayflower.
They were simply just words I would come across in schools, books, or movies.
Flight attendants come to mind when I read the word steward. For keeper, I’d imagine a kind and warm woman, an innkeeper who gives and collects room keys for weary travelers. Meanwhile, a caretaker would be someone who does not own the house but lives in it already, making sure that it is still tidy and livable when the master returns. The word custodian would conjure images of a man in cleaning clothes, always keeping halls and floors clean and organizing his materials inside a small room.
Words conjure images, and the images give me meaning. Now that I am older, I have realized the virtuous duty tied to those who personify these words.
We sat there on the wooden pew. We have probably taken this seat several times in the past. My Mom and I were at the left part of our local church, St. James Parish.
It is currently the Lenten Season. A violet banner hung above the top right part of the altar, and the priest too wore a violet vestment. The homily, of course, would probably be about letting go of our old sins and surrendering them to the Lord, repentance, and forgiveness.
I love listening to homilies. The Gospel today spoke of the Lord’s Transfiguration where Jesus brought a few of His apostles to a mountain. Jesus’ face suddenly was full of light, and the prophets Elijah and Moses appeared next to Him. Peter had exclaimed, “Lord, it is good that we are here.” Peter proceeded on telling Jesus that he can pitch tents for the three of them there. God spoke to them from up the clouds, telling them that Jesus was His Son with whom He is very well pleased.
Because I do not want to forget the lessons from the homily, I want to write down what the priest spoke about.
A year ago, just as my cousin Jango and I were checking out of Sprouts, I heard his and the cashier’s conversation. I don’t quite remember how it went word for word, but thankfully, I got the essence right. The lady said something about being able to start over not in the new year only but in every day we get to live.
While I do agree with that sentiment, it is also good to have our own prayers and hopes for how we will spend our next year. Likewise, it is a need for us to go back to the past 12 months and reflect on what we went through and how we carried ourselves over to this last day of 2016.
In between the pages of a notebook I jotted down notes in for work and some lessons in animation were also words in pencil about pride… Whenever I felt proud of myself or what I have accomplished in a certain area, I have to remind myself that pride can poison.
Instead of being proud of something, I’ve learned that it is better to have faith in something. It’s much better to say that I have a little faith in myself rather than I am so proud of myself.
I really do not like pride, for it can raise me up instead of glorifying God who is the Source of all our gifts. It hinders humility, vulnerability, and teachability, and it shines the light on you more, forgetting that so many more people are better, kinder, wiser. Pride keeps you from admitting your wrongs, from honestly opening up about your weaknesses and shortcomings, and from asking how you could improve on what you lack or what you have too much of.
So I wrote these notes down – I can’t remember when, but I know I wrote them because I let pride speak rather than listening well to a colleague’s advice on something.
May faith speak instead.