Good morning, dear God!

The sun has greeted you already while my eyes were closed, my body still asleep.

In Ilonggo, I say, “Maayong Aga!” It sounds more soft, more tender when I say it out loud to you,

our Loving Creator – the source of life, language and love.

Thank you! “Salamat gid!”

Again, gratitude in Ilonggo glides out of my lips like honey dripping with sweetness.

I say “Salamat, thank you, gracias, merci,” for a new day, so full of possibilities…

you and me, together –

walking through it, hand in hand, with love.

May I not let go of your hand, nor lose sight of you, and take off towards another direction.

Please help me to trust you every step of the way, even with all that’s going on in my life and in this world that are driving me to be in doubt and mired in despair.

Remind me of this “Salamat” moment, the peace and joy and quiet with you before I rose from sleep to meet the fevered demands of the day.

May this memory be a gift that I carry in my heart to give me strength, come what may.

So be it.

Salamat gid!

In the name of Yeshua, the Messiah.

Amen.

It’s Monday. I had plans. But my rearview mirror decided it was time to make the plunge.

I found it hanging on my car’s ceiling, unwilling to stick back on the windshield.

So I leave it be, and ask a friend to give me a ride.

My friend gladly said “Yes,” oh what joy!

But alas, her car gets a flat tire!

The culprit: a tiny screw lodged on the rubber wheel, so tiny but oh so powerful.

“Why oh why does this happen,” I silently lament, “on a Monday?”

Yet heaven smiles and bestows me a blessing: another ride, this time it’s all smooth sailing.

So, finally home,

I take a break and sit down to eat salmon, potatoes and a green salad.

Hungry and hot, I eat in haste and then I stop.

It’s Monday.

a time to pause –

breathe deeply and pray,

be thankful that all things are working out.

Miracles still abound,

and my unfinished salad is waiting to be savored, each bite

a blessing.

Last year in August, I was baking banana bread and writing haikus and picking sunflowers at a nearby farm. I remember feeling more relaxed even with all that was going on because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The time spent at home in spring 2020 helped me to take a step back, slow down and relish the moment. Yes, I confess I did some binge watching of Netflix movies and had moments of panic. But more often than not, I felt an inner peace and calm especially in my times of inward reflection and prayer. I noticed little things that I hadn’t paid attention to before: the rising and falling of my chest while I was meditating, the distant sound of an owl “whooo-ing,” and the swaying of the bamboo when a strong breeze swept through our neighbor’s backyard.

A year after, the pandemic hasn’t ended, but my more relaxed state of mind and heart seems to be waning. I have lapsed into my pre-pandemic mode of being that is addicted to hurry, obsessed with productivity and unwilling to slow down. For the first time in over ten years I have decided not to take the last two Sundays of August off. This decision, in retrospect, was a mistake.

So here I am writing and reflecting on what of this summertime I can still salvage. Perhaps, I can still make a day trip to the mountains or near a lake and get away from it all: the 24-hour news cycle, social media and all the online cacophony of opinions, claims, disinformation and the raging battle over masks and vaccines. It may not be too late to celebrate this season, even with its heat waves, tornadoes and forest fires. I still have time to listen to the crickets, watch the fireflies glow at dusk and take a much needed afternoon nap.

Perhaps, I can still make a day trip to the mountains or near a lake and get away from it all… (free photo from pexel.com)

No one else will tell Dad’s stories –

of carabaos fighting,

he, surviving

caught in between locked horns.

… a pot of rice

rolling down the hill,

cooked, caked

rice escaping,

Japanese soldiers laughing,

one life spared,

the tragicomedy

of war.

…trekking up

the mountains of Maasin

with a few worldly goods

and St. Teresa of Avila’s bust

wrapped in a cloth.

No one else will tell Dad’s stories

Unless I do

to a new generation of survivors

in this fighting, divided world.

I have to tell Dad’s stories!

They are Dad’s whispers

of hope.

In my view, the gospel writer, John writes in a manner that reflects the concept of “thin places.”  Thin places means a place where God is present in a deep and meaningful way.  This means they could be anywhere. But they can also mean special spaces where heaven and earth meet – or at least have a flimsy boundary that allows for the divine and human to go back and forth.  For John, the prologue is like a thin place where heaven and earth meet in Jesus (1:14-18).  Jesus, is the divine-human messenger who is presented as the Logos (Word) and Light who reveals God as Father.  In the first four verses of John 1, the reader is swept into a cosmic stage where he or she reads about Jesus, the Word before any word was spoken and the Co-creator of the Universe (1:3-4). This is Jesus who was before time and creation began. This is Jesus who is not from our planet and dimension. But because of a powerful force called LOVE (1:18; 3:16) came to our planet to reveal who God is – the God who he calls Father.  John begins his story about Jesus by telling the reader/audience that the person I am about to introduce to you is no ordinary being but someone who is going to change your life if you believe in him. (Another example of “thin places” encounters in the Bible are Moses meeting God in the burning bush (Exodus 3) and Jesus transfigured on the mountain. John alludes to it in John 1:14 and the Synoptic Gospels report with more detail (Matthew 17:1-8; Mark 9:2-8; and Luke 9:28-36).

Jesus, the Logos made human, who was the Word/Message and the Messenger who showed up and pitched his tent among humans not just to save them but to inspire them to live empowered by the Light, who shines in the midst of darkness.  It will be helpful to the 21st century reader to know that John’s reference to “the Jews,” does not mean all Jewish people.  “The Jews” in John’s Gospel are the Jewish religious leaders and those who rejected Jesus as God’s Son.  John’s Gospel must not be used to incite anti-Jewish sentiments. John is making a differentiation between the Jews who believed and those who did not believe (cf. John 8:31-32).  John’s Gospel included a promise of eternal life for whoever (Jews and non-Jews) believed in God’s Son (John 3:16) because of God’s love.