Yesterday, it was fun during a prayer meeting with some students. Our reflections revolved around plans for our lives and how each of us live with those plans either in fear or in hope. Most of them vacillate between the two end points. What if I don’t achieve what I want in life? How do I know if what I want is what God wants for me? What is this power to decide for myself and my future all about? The students, I noticed, stood between the terror and seduction of an open future that demands self-responsibility. As if the seed of adventure just sprouts and hope is giving them the enhancer to keep growing towards the fruits of their dreams.
Suffering, I assured them, is going to get in the way between the silent movement from fear to lessened fear to hope. It is a paradoxical instrument of distraction and being grounded in the soil of divinity also known as humility. We each had our stories of suffering to tell. But we were laughing in the group, not so much for self-mockery but out of a sense of paradox. To laugh, we used the language of technology – Facebook. Instead of saying “next” to share, we said “you’re tagged.” One threw a “friend request” and another would interrupt with “confirm.” Someone blurted out with “mark as spam” while others gave their approval with “likes.” One was “tagged” but then retorted with “un-tag.” Only to be given the choice between “un-tag” so as not to take her turn to share, or the group will “un-friend” her. We were exuberant while the group next to us was literally weeping. Tears and laughter – the two faces of the paradox I assume. We happen to find ourselves on the laughing edge yesterday, and it was good for the heart regardless if we pierced the heart of heaven or not.
I went home bringing a bagful of those joyful moments. Upon getting off from the trike a short distance between church and home, I decided for a church detour in the name of solitude. I imagined being alone again under the starry skies. The streets leading to the churchyard were crowded with parked cars. Then it dawned on me the event being held at the Shrine – the visit and exposition of the relic of St. John Bosco, patron of youth and teachers on its last day in the land. While still at the gate, the church front suddenly was illumined with a display of fireworks; white lit lanterns still greet churchgoers at the door; teeners romping around; delicacies sold alongside estampitas, souvenir shirts, calendars and planners. It was festive, the long queue of relic watchers and devotees of the Saint no different during the kissing of the Holy Cross on Good Friday except for one thing that turned the holy event into a carnival of sort, or tourists’ resort – the obsession nowadays with digital cameras and the noise that goes with its overusage.
In lieu of lining up, I proceeded to the adoration chapel, dozed off with my rosary that when I came out, lines were reduced to half its long length.
“I will listen to the silence of the relic” was my resolve while in the line. The relic is all about the silence of the Saint. Can I allow this sacred silence to speak to the silence in me instead of drawing out the cellphone-cum-camera from my pocket? Outside, people were chatting and religious in their habits saying “hi” and “hello” everywhere. Seminarians especially are known for their extra hospitality towards parishioners that silence becomes a strange thing, a snobbery of sort that could taint their image. They were there. I once was. I stood for a few moments before the relic, silent and less in a hurry. After a whisper of a prayer for healing for someone, I exited by the wing side of the church, passing by a group of priests in Roman collars and nuns chatting and laughing four meters away from the relic. I glanced at them when my attention was caught again by another round of fireworks. I looked at the skies; the stars remained in silence. Alone, I ambled back home.
Ah – solitude can also take place amidst the noise…