Places that form our persons…

“How do we become present to the places where we are? That is an important spiritual question. How do we slow down so as to be attentive? How do we give ourselves to silence and solitude in the place? How do we learn its stories? The stories of a place are what make it sacred.” Professor Belden Lane

Back in the Facebook, my fellow Facebookers have been digging their chests to share good old photos, monochrome photos as far back as the heydays of high school and elementary years. From the lens of the present, they seem to look primitive, un-polished from the gadgets of the now, backward indeed from the view of our electronic sophistication. Oh – the fashion and technicolor of the 80s much like the mix of Benetton, topped by the hairstyle of the Menudo! But back then, they tell a lot of how creative we were, crafting presentations from the resources at hand – scarfs, bamboos, mahlong, cogon grass, and to the tune of Mr. Dreamboy for a Valentine program. Memories that are worth our happy recall over the gaiety of our crazy camaraderie. Treaures beyond their sepia value because they tell stories that are so much a part of who we are now.

Those photos also caught the very place that formed us and ours include as mundane as a school garden, a lakeside, a school stage, or dim dating places. Places that helped shape those memories, where those memories exactly happened. And to say that we carry those places within and in a way revere those is not really an exaggeration.

Foremost that comes to my mind is our lake, named after the very name of our town Mainit in that Northeastern part of Mindanao. In the country, it is the 4th largest lake and said to be the deepest. The Lake is both exhilarating in its expanse, and quite an irritant for those who live nearby when it rises due to heavy raining. I have not been physically close to the Lake for years now, very much unlike those leisurely walks with my classmates after a gruelling CAT practice. I miss those calming time with the Lake and with friends.

But as i grow up, i am learning to see in a very personal way beyond the lake’s utilitarian existence. Landscapes, or lakescape for this matter, point to something grander, what one author describes as a “point of luminal reality, of God breaking into the world.” The Lake points beyond its fathomable depth into something that makes me behold an un-graspable beauty, of its sunset-colored surface i can only whisper with “wow”. Those fluvial parades every fiesta partly speak of this reverence of the One the human eye can only see through the lake  but the human faith is confident of its Presence. Such are places that speak the language of the Sacred – much like the Sea of Galilee (sometimes known as Lake Tiberias), or Mt. Tabor, or the road to Emmaus, or the front of the Temple where Simeon and Anna waited to see and touch the Messiah. As i contemplate on our Lake, i cannot help but go back to that primordial lake of my faith where miracles happened, where memories not only of its literal existence but more importantly of its spiritual significance have been passed on from one generation to the next. Our lake is even wider and deeper at 173.40 sq. kms and 223 meters maximum depth. The Sea of Galilee has 166 sq. km surface area and a maximum depth of 43 meters. The point of comparison is merely to highlight its tear-shaped semblance, and much like the fickle faith of the disciples especially when tossed up by the waves of life, to acknowledge that Lakes have so much to teach. Especially in lowering my nets…      

(If you are interested, i also wrote an earlier reflection on Lake Mainit here.)


2 thoughts on “Places that form our persons…

  1. Hi po, this is my first time to give comments like this. I consider myself as a fisherman’s daughter.I have many beautiful childhood memories in the sea, because when I was in elementary I used to join my father in fishing as our means of living- we finished our college thru fishing). I have always this experience of being behold by God especially when I’m in the middle of the ocean, I cannot but to contemplate his great love for me and each one of us!This Sea of Galilee that you are presenting is really a kind of affirmation that the life Im embracing now(religious) is a continuation of the wider sea, where I am still called to fish. A wider place where I can learn more in lowering my nets . Thank you po.NELS

  2. Hi Nels. I’m glad you are able to connect with the metaphor of “fishing” and “seascape”. Indeed, our childhood experiences are really powerful they get a large hold of our memory bank, at times, inspiring us when we are downhearted, or draw out the “creative fisher” in us the way the Desertfisher did to his lowly disciples. I agree – there is so much “fishing challenges” within the religious life, and the sea never always assures of a calm stint. The good news is He already conquered all seas…Blessings…

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