“Dig Deeper”

digging_deeper_2-thumb-768x459-864Search for the deepest inclination of your heart and follow it.

Last Tuesday in our Spiritual Theology class, I was affected by the topic about The Art of Discernment: Heart Searching and Life Choice. It was an eye-opener for me that challenged my present disposition. In the course of our discussion, my professor told us something about heart searching which actually caught my attention, and I paraphrase; “Life-choice is a question of the heart and what matters most about this phenomenon is the heart, so dig deeper your hearts because the search is inward and the answer is within”. After I heard this statement from my professor I asked myself; is my present disposition really define who I am? As I went through our discussion and personal moment of reflection, I was disturbed by the two questions included on the topic; which way am I concretely being drawn by the Lord speaking to my heart? Given my unique personality, background, and talents, what is my particular way of serving the Creator?

Entertaining those questions that really bothered my mind and disposition, I sighed and told myself; “Really, life-choice is the matter of the heart”. It’s undeniable that in the course of our search for happiness and fulfillment we tend to say “This is it!” or “Eureka! Now I find the pearl of great price for my life.” But, as we continue our journey prioritizing what we call our “heart’s desire” why restlessness is still an inevitable reality in our lives? Why are we not still happy and fulfilled the mere fact that we already found out what our innermost being tells us what to be?

I realized, finding the one thing necessary in life is not a smooth-sailing journey and a one-night search. It takes our ability to discriminate our choices, time, our heads and hearts, and our value-system. Finding the one thing necessary in our lives is not all about priorities but asking our inner self this question; what we are willing to die for? Hence, discernment (as what I have learned from our discussion yesterday) is all about placing ourselves in God’s hands, asking God to shape our lives through our decisions and allowing Him to bring fulfillment the creative work that He has already begun in us. I myself am not exempted on the mentality of being okay and contented on my present disposition. But as I encounter on our lesson yesterday about the value of discernment in life, I really asked this question on my present disposition; is this really what God wants me to be? Is this my particular way of serving the Creator? Is this the deepest inclination of my heart? From these questions I am challenged to dig deeper within my innermost being and to be open with the fact that there are unexpected realities in life which really hard to accept but will really make our hearts fully free, happy, fulfilled, and enlightened, as the English maxim said, the grass is greener outside of our own fence.

Restless Heart

Be-still-my-restlessnessThou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee

-St. Augustine of Hippo, Confessions

Five years ago, I encountered this famous text of St. Augustine when I read his book, Confessions. Before, I just consider it as an insight or a simple thought that tells something about the reality of life. Now, as I revisited it once again, I realized that it has also relevant to my life as I am undergoing soul-searching in my pilgrimage towards real happiness, joy, and contentment. What a coincidence that as I am going through a tough and delicate self-introspection and self-pondering it resounds once again into my awareness which really caught my interest.

 I myself cannot deny the fact that it’s part of our nature to quest for happiness, contentment, and satisfaction in life. So, we strive hard and really do our best to achieve those things because we want a smooth-sailing journey in life. Who doesn’t want to experience a smooth-sailing journey in life? Even myself craves for it; a journey that is so calm, hassle-free, at ease, and pleasing. Unfortunately it’s not always the case. Even though you already reach the point that you’re already happy, contented, and satisfied in life there’s still an unavoidable feeling of longingness inside of our hearts for a missing piece. Without that missing piece, it seems happiness, contentment, and satisfaction is not enough in order to make our lives complete. This is what I am experiencing right now. To be honest, the greatest challenges in life is not all about facing our fears and wrestle on it, but rather it’s all about facing our heart’s restlessness with humility, sincerity, and acceptance. For me, this is the greatest struggle that I encounter in life. It’s hard to accept on my part, but I take it as a challenge and as a providential trial. I believe and also I am hoping that everything will be okay after this restlessness that I am experiencing now because God is at my side always ready and willing to be my refuge and strength.

Come What May

Come what may

Come what may

I will love you until my dying day

While I am arranging my new song playlist for my Samsung Galaxy Ace phone, which for me still handy, savvy, and techie even though it’s already faced-out in the market, the song Come What May sang by Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor in the movie Moulin Rouge caught my interest. Actually, it was one of my favorite songs during my high school days after I watched and been fascinated by the movie, a tragic musical-love story movie which tells the story about Christian (Ewan McGregor), a poet/writer, who fell in love with the terminally-ill Moulin Rouge cabaret star Satine (Nicole Kidman). One of my favorite scenes in that movie is when Christian and Satine sang Come What May with passion and fervor. On that scene, love is shown as something beyond space and time, immortal, and perfect which when you let it overrule your heart it seems that everything is such a perfect place and a perfect grace. So, in order that my mind and heart be stirred once again by the unforgettable memories in that movie, I played the song. While listening to the song, my attention was caught by the lyrics which speaks about love as something afar from what we think and perceive about. Thus, the lyrics define love as something immeasurable, incomprehensible, and indestructible in spite of many imperfections and brokenness surrounds it.

As I reflect on the song a question from my curiosity popped-up my mind; “is this one of the manifestations or reflections of how God loves us?” Probably, yes. When God loves us suddenly the world becomes such a perfect place for us and we realize that it moves with such perfect grace because of His love. So, we love because we are loved. St. Bonaventure testified to this by saying that God came into this world because of love, and on that initiative of God we now share the love that He brought to us. That’s why we have the capacity to love. Love is not a mere feeling or romance, but a power to see the goodness and uniqueness of everything despite of its filthiness, woundedness and limitedness. But, love connotes responsibility. In a relationship, when you love someone you really need to die with yourself. Dying with ourselves is not all about giving everything that we have and not giving a space for ourselves; it’s all about being committed in a relationship and not hindering our capacity also to love ourselves. Hence, it is in loving ourselves first that we may be able to be committed in loving others or someone. Indeed, it takes a lot of self-emptying to love like God who has the capacity to see and regard things perfect and gracious in spite of its awful attributes.

Love is a verb. It always tends to act rather than to speak, because it believes that actions speaks louder than words. It’s hard to determine the goodness, uniqueness, and perfection of everything unless we love. In relationship, have we ever thought that when we fall in love it seems that everything is perfect and extraordinary? It’s the same feeling that God felt when He falls in love with us. I cannot exclude myself with this kind of feeling. When I fall in love it seems that there’s no mountain high enough and no river too wide for someone like me who wants to express this love to someone whom I really love and adore. Thus, nothing is impossible when love is put into action. Even though stars may collide, storm clouds may gather, and universe may conspire, love will still remain the same; loving until the end of time. God is really the author of love because He is love. Though His love is something mystical, we are always assure of His love because it has no end and it continues to flourish us every day. That’s why when we fall in love nothing is being left behind. Everything is important, distinctive, and wonderful though dreadful and unpleasant.

The Tempest

110712084936--Bristol Shakespeare Festival review The Tempest“Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”

Sounds familiar right!  This is our attitude whenever we experience great tempests in our lives.  In order for us to make this question more appealing and realistic in our daily experiences, I would like to rephrase the question in this way; “You chose to love us Lord, so why you allow us to struggle?”  It’s really difficult to reflect on this question because it touches the entirety of our human experience engaged in life’s daily struggles.  I myself find this question really hard to ponder.  Even my mind cannot find an exact answer or explanation for this question because it’s a matter of the heart.  The only thing that I could do in order to understand it is to relate it with my present state as a journeyer and a searcher for a purpose-driven life.

As I read and reflect on the gospel yesterday, I cannot but put myself with it especially that I am experiencing being tossed and hurled by different tempests in my life.  Why did Jesus tell his disciples to cross the boat to the other side?  In order to make the question more relevant in my daily struggles, I rephrase the question in this way; If God really loves me, why does He put me in a situation that will test and challenge my faith and trust in Him?  Does He really care for me?  Does He really trust me?  Does He really love me?  These are some the questions that popped-up to my mind as I let the gospel of today speak into my life.  It’s really inevitable for me to ask this kind of questions especially that the gospel affects greatly the heart and the matter of my present state.  Now, I am really experiencing great tempests in my life which really challenges not only my decisions in life but also my disposition.  So, it’s really unavoidable for me to complain in God who is just silent and calm on what’s going on within me.

Like the disciples in the gospel yesterday, who will not be terrified and be alarmed to face the great tempests on the middle of the sea?  It’s a force of nature and we cannot control it all by ourselves.  Just like our struggles, difficulties, and trials in life; it’s hard to face it courageously alone.  So, Jesus is right in saying these words to His disciples; “Why are you terrified?  Do you not yet have faith?”  It’s the same question that He is asking and posting to me today as I face great tempests in my life.  The disciples were lucky that Jesus is in their midst and made the tempest calmed easily.

So now I ask myself, am I also lucky just like the disciples?  I think yes if I will just have faith and trust in Him.  But how when I cannot anymore see him, when I cannot anymore feel him, and when I cannot anymore recognize him?  Hence, to have faith and trust in Him is not a head trip or a mere feeling, but a conviction and a right attitude that connotes and requires the totality of our mind and heart.  So, my prayer life and spiritual life is being challenged by this indispensable reality that really bothers my way of perceiving the presence and the love of God in my daily struggles.  I admit I find this disturbing, but providential.

In life, it will really come into the point we can no longer bear all the tempests that affect our lives.  The only thing that we could do is to surrender every difficulty, trials, and even ourselves to the saving grace of God.  That’s what the wisdom of surrendering is all about.  But, surrendering will not be called wisdom without an open heart.  Hence, it takes a lot of openness and sincerity in order that we may be able to surrender everything to God despite the tempests that overruled our quest for inner peace and serenity.

A Spark of Hope

hope-digital_a-600-px-100I usually wake up at 5:00 am during weekdays.  It’s already part of my everyday ritual that once I wake up, I will stare first at the window and watch the breathtaking sunrise that hover the dark thick clouds in the sky.  This majestic scenery reminds me of something that I need to consider as a pilgrim learner, i.e. amidst every struggles and trials I encounter in life there’s always a spark of hope waiting to rise if I will not stop my longings to eagerly accept it as the greatest consolation in my heart.

Struggles and trials in life are really unavoidable especially when you reach the point that your life seems so stable.  Thus, our life is like a pendulum; sometimes steadiness and serenity pulls you up, but there are times that the forces of laxity and animosity pulls you down.  These two types of reality in life move simultaneously like a vicious cycle and its normal for each one of us who are engage in a journey called a search for authenticity.

Unfortunately, it’s hard to deny the fact that we cannot avoid to focus our attention and to be affected too much by our daily struggles and trials in life.  I admit; I too have this kind of tendency especially when it’s hard to bear and to let go all these things.  I experienced that as I retire on my bed and think of every unpleasant experiences I encounter on that day, I shed tears on my pillow and asked myself and even the Lord “Why?” as my night prayer before I fall asleep.  Call it crazy, but for me it’s a fact of life which also others experienced or experiencing this kind of scenario in their lives.

Going back to the image of the breathtaking sunrise I always stare at my room’s window; this majestic image is really something providential for me as I admit into myself that I am a little bit preoccupied with my own bitterness in life.  It reminds me that I must not lose my sight about the significance of hope which serves as a living water and refreshes my thirst for everlasting joy and happiness.  Hope is not about saying these lines into our lives; “should I give up or should I just keep chasing pavements?”  Hope is something hoping against struggles and trials in life.  It is also all about following the thin light amidst the blistering pangs of the cold-dark night of our lives.  Hope is like reaching our hands to the saving hand of the Beholder who is the author of hope and the only hope.

Every time I stare upon the sunrise, one of the lines in the song Only Hope by Switchfoot and sung also by Mandy Moore always spellbind my ear which goes like this;

So I lay my head back down
And I lift my hands and pray to be only yours
I pray to be only yours
I know now you’re my only hope

When there’s no hope in every struggles and trials that we experience in life for sure it’s hard to recognize the real author of it, i.e. the Beholder.  It really manifest that as we start to cling our sight to Him everything is possible though for us it’s not.  Just like the breathtaking sunrise in the morning, it simply reminds me that in every struggles and trials in life His presence does not hide; He’s just waiting for me to open my eyes and  heart and reach my hands to Him and He’s willing to grant me the spark of hope that I am waiting for so long.  But, it takes a lot of faith and courage, and I admit it’s a delicate moment.

Love defines us who we are

mansihlNow, I go back writing my insights after a long hiatus. It’s been a while that I am not posting my insights on this blog due to so many things that I need to consider into my life such as priorities, concerns, urgencies, and even my own vulnerabilities.

Also, I give myself an ample time to reflect on certain topics for my future blog posts which are related on my previous and present experiences which somehow affects my insights about life and love. Giving myself an ample time for reflection did not fail me to produce a unique insight, and now I would like to share one of the things that I learned in reflecting on the primacy and the significance of love in our lives, i.e. its capacity to define us who we are.

For me, love is not a mere feeling, but a living. When we allow love to influence our lives including our priorities, dreams, aspirations, hopes, and decisions in life our joy will be complete. Without love, it seems that everything is lifeless, blunt, opaque, and incomprehensible. But, what makes love as a “defining principle” for our identity as Beloved? Looking into my realities, there are things that it’s hard to deny and ignore. Yes, I am still in search of the real essence of love that will captivate everything in life; but the only thing in my search about the greatness of love is the fact that I am loved despite all shortcomings and inadequacies that I have in my life.

Being loved is what defines us. We are not what we see outside ourselves. We are not what others expect. Rather, we are loved, and that love defines who we are. Nowadays, we live in a world that is full of “busy bodies” and “demand shakers”. It’s also a temptation today to fill up our minds with so many concerns both necessary and unnecessary in order to escape the reality called self-introspection. It’s undeniable that the emerging ideology “I am the captain of my own self” or “All by myself” is now a trend for all of us who want to escape in the reality and in the actual situation of our lives.

Hey wait a minute! Have we realized that we cannot define our real selves unless we allow love to penetrate in our lives? Before we exist in this world love is already here. Love is all that matters in life, and everything is just secondary. Why do we complicate our identity if love defines us who we are simply? Why do we judge ourselves as ineffective and ugly if love sees us capable of doing good and productive things, pleasing, and beautiful? We let ourselves to be devoured by the demands of this world, but it a sad thing to realize that we forget the very important and necessary thing in life, i.e. we are loved, and love defines us who we are. So, in the eyes of the Beholder we are the beloved; taken out of love, blessed by love, broken but loved, and given because of love. So, why be afraid in committing ourselves to love if at first we are loved and love defines us who we are? Is it because of pain?

Yes, pain is inevitable, but love is forever. Nothing be afraid of when we let things be out of love. It is in love that we see ourselves as a person capable of loving in sincerity and truth.

Charge to Experience

sagada-teachermiatravelsOne of the things that really make me bother as a blogger is the experience called the “inexpressible insights”.

These insights are hard to put into writing as I am now engaging myself with this kind of experience.  I remember Jodie Foster’s 1997 movie entitled The Contact as Doctor Ellie Arroway when she tried to explain to the panel and to Michael Kitz about her alien-stuff experience and she simply said these words;

“I can’t. I… had an experience… I can’t prove it, I can’t even explain it, but everything that I know as a human being, everything that I am tells me that it was real! I was given something wonderful, something that changed me forever… A vision… of the universe, that tells us, undeniably, how tiny, and insignificant and how… rare, and precious we all are! A vision that tells us that we belong to something that is greater than ourselves, that we are *not*, that none of us are alone! I wish… I… could share that… I wish, that everyone, if only for one… moment, could feel… that awe, and humility, and hope. But… That continues to be my wish.”

It’s the same thing I am feeling right now.  I had a wonderful experience, but I can’t put it into words which I wish I could.  The only thing that I could say is “I…had an experience…I can’t prove it, I can’t even explain it…”  This kind of experience really comes in an unexpected moment.  Hence, I realized no words can ever explain an experience that’s hard to prove or put into our own language or mindset.  Maybe, people may judge this thing as a “scarcity-of-word-syndrome” or “experience-pondered-by-silence”.  I don’t know.  But, the only thing that for me is the surest answer is “I had an experience.”

Thus, as I reflect on this, I realized that there are experiences in life that are left unexplained and only charge to experience per se.  It’s not foolishness, but it is just part of my uniqueness as a human.  As an analogy; when we look up to sky and try to look on the stars we cannot but be amazed on its wonder.  We are being awe-inspired by its magnificence and we cannot but experience it and be delight on its wonder.

Afterwards, it’s hard to explain in an exact way what we experienced about the stars, and the only thing that we could say is “the stars are wonderful.”

Indeed, it’s good to be human.  Some experiences that we experienced here on earth are not bound for explanation but charge to experience.  It’s normal not to explain what we experienced rightly, but it’s abnormal to explain what we experienced on an exact and surest way.  Everything what we experienced here on earth are not calculated, and beyond the parameters of space and time.  So, every experience is meant for cherishing and not for explaining because it lasts.

I am lucky that I am experiencing this kind of opportunity.  It is just trying to show me that I am unique and my experiences are beyond my imaginations and calculations just like yours.