What’s Your Star to Bethlehem?

First thing I admit – I cried at the doorstep of 2009 and as I bade goodbye to the rocky 2008. It’s not a yearly ritual of mine but the scanty catch of last year was at times paralyzing. I was shedding tears for the pain that was and the promise of a new year. A fresh start is what most of us often want and I’m grateful to be given the time to start anew.


For some significance beyond my comprehension, my scholarship at Queens in Ontario has been at bay for 3 years now. It seemed more like an exercise in imagination and hope than really feeling the Canadian cold between reading and writing. Some things, I guess, are just meant to stretch our patience, period. Then when it’s time to let it go, it equally means being open to other possibilities. Loss is never loss at all; most often, it is only a movement of possibilities for growth, or a shifting of priorities. So I am moving on this year, me, a water Ox (chariiing).

This is the second thing I will admit – I read Chinese horoscopes, too. I do think they are intriguing, perhaps, as intriguing as the white smoke that billows out at the Vatican’s chimney upon an election of a new Pope. I do think Chinese horoscopes are keen observations of the pattern and rhythms of animals and peoples and plants and nature. They are scientific to some degree if we mean by science the human effort to uncover the logic of the world, the pattern of the world. So I read Chinese horoscopes to test some synchronicity between the actual me and the primitive “scientific” fact enshrined in those animals. In between those reading time are silent consensus and I believe I am not alone in those “A-ha” moments. But then, this cosmic dozen of Chinese beasts does not predestine my life and my choices. It is not my compass, or my north star. I guess most of us could simply lift our shoulder saying it’s just the Asian in us, very much in parallel with the American Indian tradition of naming themselves after an animal.

In this Feast of the Epiphany, when the Magi were guided by a star into the Little Savior, I remain strong in my resolve to claim Jesus as my destination and the mission entrusted to me as my compass, my guiding star. It took me some wandering to settle with my mission, made me wondering if the Magi themselves had wandered for years decoding the astrological signs pointing to Bethlehem. The wandering – it can happen until one’s mission in life settles like a gentle feather in one’s soul. I’m glad I’ve found mine. Have you figured out yours? Are you ready to peek at mine? Here it is, fresh from my diary, but an entry of almost 3 years ago.

It was one ordinary day of walking at a sports complex. As usual, the open sky domed the place and the surrounding mountains serve as magnificent backdrops. The mountain of Mayapay, which is often kissed by clouds reminded me of the mountain in my dream. But day in and out, I had been feeling so tired of treading the unknown paths. While walking, I prayed asking the Lord for one thing. I was talking to the Lord, believing that He was walking beside me that one ordinary morning. Tears were welling up, where else, but in my eyes. I felt the presence of the Lord. I asked Him for one thing: to show me the way and to give me a sense of direction in life. The following night, I was up in the middle of sleep and I couldn’t wait to write the one line that stirred me: to become God’s living compassion among the suffering sick. I mulled over the line, trying to mentally masticate it while also feeling I’m being seized by its simplicity. I feel like it’s the still point to use TS Eliot’s phrase, where all dances are drawn into the dance. It simply has its drawing power.

Eventually, I realized the statement must be connected to my “Emmaus experience” that one ordinary, walking morning.”

This simple mission, side by side with becoming a Christlike family man, this is my star to the manger, my compass towards the call for wholeness (holiness). Just in case you haven’t figured out yours, here are 3 friendly advises:

  1. Pray. Dialogue with God. Remember, a mission is bigger than a personal ambition or dream because God wants to get involved, to say the least.
  2. From American scholar Joseph Campbell – “Go back to your childhood and find what was the real fascination.” I did mine here. Those early impressions about what we want to be are deeply ingrained in our cells.
  3. Look around you, sort those needs around you, keeping in mind this beautiful quote from theologian Frederick Buechner: “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

You may add your advise in the comment section. In my next post, I will reflect on the intersection between my mission and the needs I see around. Beyond personal ambition, may God reveal to us all our mission in life we can carry out this New Year 2009.


Photo credit: Mr. Geoff


8 thoughts on “What’s Your Star to Bethlehem?

  1. A Peaceful New Year Dfish! Since you are a reader of Chinese horoscope, let me share that I am born in the Year of the Ox. So this should be my year, sana! Even if there is not much to hope, I will keep on hoping and praying that this year will be kinder to all of us..

  2. I guess that’s the Ox trademark i like – we don’t easily give up, we keep ploughing and ploughing till we reach our goals in life. Your hope is my hope, too Amor. Thanks for dropping by.

  3. Happy New Year Dfish!

    “The world is charged with the grandeur of God.” – Gerard Manley Hopkins, SJ

    I have always believed that one’s mission in life is where one’s passion lies. I have always been passionate about many things but none I suppose could top my passion for photography. I am no pro – just an enthusiast.

    And so, I always persevere (in terms of time and resource) to allow others to see God’s grandeur in His creations though my lenses in my travels…

    You really have a great site here, and to borrow your word, I need more time to “masticate” your thoughts in your other posts… I’ll be a regular visitor…

    I am adding you in my blog roll… 🙂


  4. Ay si Manong Hopkins – dapat magcanonize na rin sila ng mga dakilang poets kagaya niya. Passion and perseverance – two words to really live by. Perseverance lalo na ay napakahirap isabuhay. Pero your passion is really full of hues and colors that would make your time less boring. Meron din bang “photographer’s block”? Thank you for adding me to your roll…

  5. wow, scholar ng Queen’s U ang Dfish namin!ü

    while reading your article, I can’t help but say:
    “Nagka-epiphany experience talaga itong si Doc. hehe…” Stay faithful to that Emmaus experience of yours, Dfish. Trust the star even if it’s just a speck in the sky. Malay mo isang buong solar system pala yun.ü a whole world of possibilities pala siya kahit na we only see it as an insignificant spark in the dark of the night.ü

    God bless!

    Tingnan mo Bluep, may nabingwit ka na si Utoy! Blueeeeep! Dyan lang ako nabubuhay kapatid sa mga libreng paaral. Mga loans to ni Papa Jesus! Salamat sa encouragement. Tama ka – i’ll hold on to it, my guiding star. Mahaba-haba na rin ang paglalakbay kaya napakalaking biyaya ang pag-uusap na yon…God bless you too in your spiritual journey…

  6. Meron din bang “photographer’s block”?

    Oo naman… Kumbaga, kung sa mga saints – ”the dark night of the soul”…
    Okay, medyo far flung ang analogy… hehehe…

    Yes, many times I do experience it… Since I am using film, I am very particular with each shot. It is frustrating that after seeing the results of a roll of film, wala man lang ni isang pumasa sa standards ko (1 out of 36 masaya na ako)… Sayang kasi mahal na passion ito…

    Since I am not that good a photographer yet, I keep myself fueled and nothing fuels passion more than inspiration. So I invest in it. I buy photography books, I have my best pics enlarged to 8in by 12in prints…. And kung frustrated ako, binabalikan ko sila at sinasabi ko sa sarili ko na there were many times when I have made those OMG pics… OMG = Oh my God!

    And so, I easily gain back my little self-confidence… 🙂

    I haven’t read a book yet about a photographer’s life. The way you describe your occasional impasse, it’s really worth documenting for others to peek into the more personal corners of your life as a photographer. Of course, your outputs speak a lot about you – your perceptions, values, dislikes, etc. But writing a book about a photographer’s life, peppered with your great shots, hmmmm….

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