The muscles aching, straining to tap into some hidden energy reserves to climb up once more. Fatigued limbs grasping for what little oxygen it can possibly get. The mind feverishly working to come up with more lies to enable the body to keep on going.
It was beautiful.
Finally reaching the summit of the mountain. Looking out and seeing vast swaths of lands filled with fauna and flora. The deer leaping, the rabbit hopping, the frog jumping, the insects scuttling from one end to another.
It was beautiful.
The sky losing its bluish hue. In its stead, pinks and violets and orange mingled, interweaving with one another. The brightness and cheerfulness of the day easing itself so quietly and surreptitiously into the somber and mysterious mood of the night.
It was beautiful.
The garish sun that gave off intense heat throughout the day turns into the refreshing coolness of the night. It is as if it finally felt awful enough to stop its cruelty, if only for a brief moment in time. And in that moment, plants, animals and humans, find their rest.
It was beautiful how these thoughts circled in his brain. Wondering what it could mean, wondering what it would look like. He could only get snippets, bits and pieces, fragments from people's explanations. With their eyes, he could see the sunset in all its majestic glory.
It started out as a random line thrown in a conversation. My friend told me that he liked climbing a mountain an hour away from his house. "Maybe we should do that one time... climb a mountain," I said. Burst of laughter from me ensues. I'm not a really outdoorsy type of person. I'm a city boy. I like my concrete jungle. But, something within me has been changing these past few years. More and more, I yearn to escape the city-ness that I live in. I long to see trees, walk in fields of grass, hear the stillness in the air. And so, I decided to do something that I've never done before. I was going to climb this mountain.
It was a beautiful hike. Sweat dripping from my face, I kept on going. We took a small break and proceeded to take out our cameras and have a little photoshoot. Even did some planking and owling :P After awhile, we were back on the road to the top of this mountain. It was hard work but when you have a goal in mind, it makes the hard work easier. Well, maybe not easier, but at least it gives you a reason to move. Climbing up the rocky face was challenging, to say the least. The fear of falling never really left me until finally, there were no more rocks to climb, no more steps to make, because I finally reached the summit. As I looked out from the top, it took my breath away. The view was startlingly refreshing and breathtaking.
Later on at night, we saw the light show of the heavens. The clouds, the stars, and the moon provided us with a heavenly display devoid of the light pollution that can often dull these glimmering bodies in the sky. Sitting there, my eyes transfixed, my heart bursting, my mouth silent, for once, at the wonder before me. God's wonderful creation viewed by another creation. Humbling and awe-inspiring to say the least.
As I climbed down, I knew that it would not be my last. I look forward to going back up that mountain and being transported to yet another world.
*This post was inspired by Sherree Worrell's writing challenge. The topic is "The silence was deafening.” I decided to take up the challenge as well.*
The sun rose in the east. Day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, decades after decades, millennium after millennium, it did what it naturally did. And yet, somehow, this time, it was different. The sun rose not only to announce that it was a new day; it rose to announce the end of a life. This morning, he was going to die.
He knew he had it coming. Well, everyone on this earth knows that but somehow still manage to think that it would never come. No, not him. He knew he was going to die. He even knew how. He was one of those people that knew his mortality. Accepting the fact that he was going to perish, it gave his life meaning and purpose. I guess that's how it works. We only know how to live well if we know how to die well.
I guess it wasn't a surprise. He was always telling the so-called good people the things they didn't want to hear. He was always telling the bad people that love is not some far-fetched dream. Standing up against the status quo can get you killed fast. It was only a matter of time before they were going to make a move against him.
In the middle of the night, they found him. Arrested him. Brought him to a kangaroo court where he was accused of crimes he didn't commit. Beat him. Tortured him. Amnesty International wasn't there to intervene against such cruel and inhumane practices foisted against his body. There will be no petitions for his release. The paparazzi couldn't make tabloid fodder over his fate. No one was there to console him. He was all alone. Even his so-called friends scampered away when they saw the law coming hard against him. When trouble came, they all fled.
And so, they subjected him to one of the most gruesome and humiliating walk of shame known to man. Stripped naked, they paraded him. They did it to make an example out of him. “Don't be like him,” mothers whispered to their kids. His mother crying a flood of tears as she sees the mangled flesh of her son. It was too much for her to bear.
Suddenly, the skies darkened. The very ground they stood on began to tremble. Pathetic fallacy perhaps? Maybe he was innocent after all? Perhaps. Only time will tell. And in the midst of all the rumblings in the sky, he cried out in a strange and foreign tongue. Eloi Eloi lama sabachthani.My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?
In what must seem like weeks, months, years, decades, and a millennium to a dying man, the answer finally came.
It seems like it was only yesterday when I wrote this poem. And no, we no longer are together. Probably for the best.
Thirsty. Thirsty for your love. Thirsty for your touch. Thirsty for your soul. Thirsty to hear the words from you that you feel the same way I do.
Empty. Empty from frustration. Empty from confusion. Empty from dissatisfaction. Empty to feel anything anymore because I've given all of myself away.
Alone. Alone to bear all the hurts. Alone to bear all the pain. Alone to bear all the troubles. Alone to shoulder the vicissitudes of time in this journey called life.
Resolved. Resolved that I shall no longer be prisoner. Resolved that I shall break free from these chains. Resolved that I shall free myself into wellness. Resolved to loosen myself from the grip of apathy, hopelessness and despair that is you.
Recently, I joined a group called #usguys on Twitter. I must admit I just thought it was a random hashtag when I first saw it. Stephen Caggiano (@StephenCaggiano) showed up on my list of followers and so I followed him back. While I was looking at his Twitter profile, it said things like #God, #family, and other positive things. So far, so good. At the end of his profile, it said #usguys. Curious, I went on Twitter search and wrote #usguys. A stream of tweets flooded my timeline and I could make no sense out of it. I decided to ask him about it and used the hashtag #usguys. That was the beginning of my foray into the world of online community.
Suddenly, people I didn't know began to answer my question. These were a group of people who were friendly, welcoming, and were eager to help me with any question I may have. While it is a place that is primarily populated with Social Media experts and mavens, it is more than that. It is a place where people can feel welcomed into a community. I thought that this place would be a place where experts talk about their various fields of expertise and high-five each other at how smart they are while laughing at the rest of the world who just didn't get what Social Media was all about. They were not. They were people who were passionate about people. Yes, we do get into Tweetdeck vs HootSuite debates from time to time, but we are just as likely to ask how each other's days went and what movie we should watch (Green Lantern FTW!)
As I participated and interacted with various people, I was truly reminded how I have often felt that the welcoming atmosphere and place of belonging that I wanted from the Church were often found in other places. I felt this in North Africa having dinner with a friend of mine. As we were eating, he said, "now we are brothers." I asked him to explain further. He said that because we were eating the same food, that food turns into blood, and that blood is now shared between us. And I thought to myself, what a great picture of community. I felt this with #usguys as I see them help, love and appreciate one another and show that same care to any wanderer into the #usguys domain. At one point, I even tweeted that I wished churches were more like #usguys: people who are non-judgmental, willing to listen, and made you feel like that you mattered to someone.
I've heard it often said that diversity is something to be welcomed and I definitely agree. It was in engaging with people from diverse backgrounds from #usguys, however, that I found the practical outworking of that statement. I often wondered why they would #ringthetribalbell for me when I wasn't a Social Media expert like they were. And yet, I am not entirely surprised that they did. This was an online community that found that its greatest strength lies in establishing deep and meaningful relationships with people (which is really the essence of Social Media!) With each individual's contribution, the group becomes stronger because of it. Somehow, the line between individual and group becomes blurred, fuzzy and bleed into the abstract, and yet so tangible, concept of community. And that is what is so beautiful about it: the ability to maintain personal convictions but also participating in something greater than yourself. And I do catch myself thinking, isn't this what the Church was called to do?
I'm truly thankful for having met some truly wonderful people. It's been often said that if you want to be smarter, you need to surround yourself with smart people and that's what I've been doing. Yet, these are not smart people who are merely content with providing deep content or a plethora of information. These are people who are committed to deep relationships. Instead of "Go Big or Go Home", they decided to "Go Deep." Thanks #usguys. You have definitely given me much to think about.
I stood up and took my place in the line. Names being called, graduands walking up the stage, smiling, shaking hands, getting a piece of paper, walking off, and going back to their seat. One by one, the people in front of me disappeared. Until finally, I was next. They called my name and it seems time stood still. This is it. Everything I've worked for. All the sleepless nights, hours of writing, researching, procrastinating, wanting to quit, thoughts of failure, feelings of momentary triumphs, pondering, meditating, thinking... all of the hard work and the emotional roller coaster of the past two years for this moment. I walked up the steps, almost tripping on my hood, walked up, shook the Chancellor's hand and heard the words everyone else heard, but now seems so personal. Something something I confer to you something something Master of Theological Studies something something rights and privileges. And the hood was put on me and then I walked down the steps and then I got a picture with my diploma and I went back down to my seat. And just like that I now was a Master of Theological Studies. I looked at my diploma and wondered if I graduated with honours and it didn't really say it. But there was a letter in it. I opened it and was expecting some congratulatory letter. Instead, I found out that I was the recipient of an award (Catherine Thomson MacAlpine Memorial Scholarship) for academic excellence. I was overjoyed. It came as a complete surprise. After the convocation, while talking to a friend, I accidentally found out that I was also on the Honours List. Both achievements were what I've always dreamed of. I remember walking down the awards display case and always wished that my name would be up there. But to actually have it happen, is another thing!
Later on, I found out that the award was voted on by the whole faculty which made me appreciate the award even more. To think that when they were thinking about who best exemplified academic excellence, out of all the people they would choose me as the bearer, is flabbergasting! As much as I am happy and proud that I won the award, I find myself more humbled and very grateful. I know that it is only by the grace of God that I got it and it was not all me. And I don't mean that as some spiritual cliche. Through this event, I actually experience God's mercy and compassion. Usually, when people win an award, they experience God in more triumphalist terms. For me, I was yet again reminded of how low I am and how high God is. I cannot help but express the words of the Psalmist when he said "What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?"
I just feel so thankful, grateful and loved. I am yet again reminded of how my life has been enriched by the people in my life. Thank You Lord for allowing me to have this opportunity to learn more and draw closer to You. Thank You for providing me with the financial means to do so. Thank You for using this time to humble me and give me a better understanding of who You are to me and to Your people.