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"I have found the ONE whom my soul loves..." ~ Song of Songs 3,4"and He has found me."
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    "We can only learn to know ourselves and do what we can 
    - namely, surrender our will and fulfill God's will in us."
    ~St. Teresa of Avila


    When first asked by my friend Vishnu to write about the second phase of my life (transition from convent life to the world outside), I was a bit hesitant to share. I needed to find ‘peace’ within me in order to do that. 


    If you read my journey to the religious life previously,Unveiled: My Life and Lessons as a Nun, you know my faith journey and spiritual life lessons. Today, I want to share with you why I left my old life as a “nun.”

    Why I entered

    I received my dispensation of vows from Pope Benedict XVI in 2008.


    Nobody dared ask me this personally but relatives, friends and neighbours went to talkto my mom when they all saw me ‘without’ the habit.


    To explain why I left, you must know why I entered the convent in the first place.

    I was filled with idealism and concepts on God, vocation to love, service and what religious life is all about ~ but it entails much much more than that since what should be formed first and foremost is the heart.


    I had chosen the Franciscan road out of romantic notions of poverty, devoid of knowledge of community life.

    Finally, I realized that I had entered religious life not to serve God, but to hide from myself.

    I was challenged and confused with my personal relationships. I feared work life and
    had apprehension over my career. My poor self-esteem was exposed and  I doubted my ability to survive in my community.

    The pressures great, the choices unlimited.  


    An escape was necessary.


    Why I left

    It’s hard to admit this now to you but I left my life to escape from my world as I knew it.

    Sadly, to escape from myself.

    Instead of staying to work through my life’s dilemmas, choices and relationships, I thought I would find comfort and freedom in the religious order. I wrongly believed the convent would liberate me from the struggles of my daily life.

    Over some time, I came to realize that I was carrying myself, not Jesus, in the mission field. I slowly came to terms with why I had entered and why I must leave despite the disappointment and pain I would cause to those dearest to me.


    I realized that the journey to holiness is a grace that needs our cooperation. And in my case, cooperation to fulfill God’s plan was outside religious life.


    I realized that I need not force myself into doing something that is contrary to my happiness.


    As my spiritual companion puts it, the Lord wants our happiness whether that be with Him as a religious or outside as a lay.


    When should you leave

    It doesn’t matter what situation you find yourself in life. You may find yourself in circumstances which no longer serve you.

    You may have your awakening
    [earthquake and crisis] at the most inconvenient times. God may be telling you to move on. To leave the structures.


    With my story as the backdrop, I share with you 5 signs you should know when it’s time for you to leave behind your vocation, your dream, your relationship, your fear, your insecurities.


    1.     When you feel the need to be true to yourself.


    I realized that I had been afraid of other people, especially the opposite sex. Afraid of relationships, afraid of heartbreak and afraid of the pain which came when relationships evolved.
     

    You will find that hiding behind the veil of what you’re afraid might be scary and unpleasant but you still have to let go. If you decided to let go, you evolve through the pain and change and come out stronger. 

    If you face your fears, you might find pain, but you'll also find your strength.

    It is a very humbling and liberating experience to accept the truth.

    Once you decide to be true to yourself, you'll no longer compromise your mental health or emotional well-being. Your heart [desire] and mind [will] are aligned.

    2. When you need to face your fears. 

    One of the main reasons, I did not decide on leaving immediately was fear ~ of the future. How would I fare outside? I was already in my thirties and I felt inadequate.


    Since I have been out now for some time, I can assure you that with God’s guidance, all will turn out well for you. Your worst fears won’t materialize.


    You might stumble and take some time to stand on your feet but you will stand. You will find new opportunities, more suitable employment, more fitting partners.

    3.    When you need to confront the unknown. 

    There are two roads one follows in decision making:The road to trust the process that will lead to discovery and reality or the road back to despair and dependency.  

    I constantly chose certainty which led to despair. It took me several months more to finally tell my superiors that I wish to leave the religious life.

    While no one likes what the unknown may offer, the unknown is filled with possibility and will allow you to live your essence, your true self.


    4.    When you need to stand up for your life.

    I didn’t wish to take full responsibility so I waited for my superiors to decide but that did not happen. The decision, despite the presence of a spiritual guide, was mine to take.

    It took me several years to do so but I finally did.

    Life will not give you the easy way out. You will have to choose affirmatively to change your situation. You might have to do something you’ve never done before; take responsibility for your choices and decisions.


    You may have to turn back on your culture or your family. You may have to turn back to everything you know but in the process, you will become who you were meant to be.


    5.    The need to grow. 

    I wish I had this mind when I entered and I wish I had removed the blocks as easily as I do now. At the time of entering the convent and for most of my time there, I feared coming to terms with the reality that I wasn’t meant to be there. I was fearful of my true intentions because my true intentions would have forced me to leave.

    You may have a nagging feeling about what you should do in life but you have to do it when the time is right for you.


    When you decide to leave what no longer serves you, you have gone through the process of coming to take that big step. That act of faith and the readiness to act is growth.


    Growth is nothing but God’s grace along your journey for self-understanding and awareness.


    My life began anew when I left the convent. While I had entered the convent for all the wrong reasons, I know I left for all the right ones. Inside, I was hiding from myself and Christ. Outside, I was ready to be who I truly am and give myself completely to Him.


    I have learned to see Christ everywhere. I could still love Him here outside through the people I meet in my workplace and in the streets.


    I have let go of the habit but not the heart of a missionary for which I will always be.


    I return all the blessings and graces I receive each and everyday ~ new insights and learnings ~ to God.


    Leaving is never easy when you have so much uncertainty and fear to face but it is the path we must travel through to live our divine purpose.  


    What must you do today? What are you ready to leave behind? Where must you go? 




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  • 09/30/13--13:59: Awakening our Soul
  • It has been several weeks now since I started noticing how "positive" people are around me...


    At one of the conventions I attended a few Saturdays ago, I helped out at the registration area where I immediately identified this 'beautiful soul' among the crowd ~ a vibrant guy ~ a new face ~ who kept on coming back to our desk to ask for the VIPs so he could assist them. We were not formally introduced until dinner time ~he was the recently hired Coalition coordinator~ but even before that, I was very eager to know his 'story.'


    He had only one arm.


    Apparently from the bone structure, the deformity was not inborn but was caused by an accident early 2000 New Year. What really caught my attention was his oozing confidence. It was the careful attention he gave each one of us that made him extraordinary ~ and here I was thinking, how could he give so much when he lacks a hand? 


    He nourishes his "hidden life" with Christ and ministers to people like him. 


    I remember an incident before I left the convent, at my days of depression. I overheard a comment a volunteer made, which until now clearly rings on my mind ~'NOW, I know it serves a purpose' ~ thank you. 


    "Look at her [referring to me], she's complete yet incomplete at the same time." 


    Complete with all the faculties the Lord has given me ~ rich in talents the world can benefit from ~ and yet I dis-abled my mind, closed my heart and hands and stifled my growth. In short, when I stopped giving, I ceased living...


    My hands were full. I was holding on to security. Then the Lord said, "Let go, let go!" And when I finally did, He worked on me full time.


    You see, change doesn't happen in a day, a month, not even a year. Time is relative to God. An experience should touch one's heart, break it open ~ to awaken the soul!


    "The greater the struggle, the more glorious the triumph."

    ~ Mr. Mendez, a line from The Butterfly Circus ~


    We might find ourselves crippled, not necessarily by a deformity, a gene defect, a freaking accident, but by our own prison cells ~ FEAR, strict rules, narrow-minded parents, culture, religion, beliefs, inordinate attachments, judgment of other people. 


    We were all born with wings:

    "BREAK FREE and LEARN TO FLY!"


    ... everything in its proper time ...


    in God's perfect time...


    *Kindly spend time to watch this.*


    “The work of the eyes is done. 

    Go now and do the heart - 

    work on the images imprisoned within you.”

    ~Rainier Maria Rilke~


      God will always find all the means for us to open our doors to Him... 

    listen to that voice that says, 


    "You are precious in My eyes,
    and honored, 
    and 
    I love you."


    ~Isaiah 43,4~




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    photo (used with permission) courtesy of Raising Ecstasy 

    *I write this on the occasion of St. Teresa of Avila, 'our' favorite saint...

    Close your eyes

    "Wait..." he told me as I began to pray...

    "Breathe love first..." I breathed him...

    "Slow down..." and I placed my hand on his chest to take the rhythm of his heart beat...

    ------------------------------------


    A few months ago, my good friend in the Purpose Driven Life sessions, challenged me to finish one drawing I had since 2010... he, like the others, was so eager to see me committing myself to a man... 

    I looked at my Vision Board and saw a bride and a bridegroom on the right, a family, and a mother holding a child. I've always had conflict with my desires for I never have fully felt the 'need' to have someone at the moment.

    "Please... please don't start drawing Jesus. You've already come out of the convent... Draw a man you've dreamed of becoming your husband in the future..." my PDL friend chided. 

    I knew in my heart what I have asked Jesus for.





    ---------------------------------------
    Fall in Love

    To see Jesus face-to-face...
    To encounter Him in a personal manner...
    and to experience real love... ~ these were my deepest desires.

    Jesus gave me a spiritual companion...

    There was a shift from the love I first came to know in this world ~ from looking at each other to fixing our gaze at the face of Jesus on the Cross.

    "In a spiritual friendship, there is no possession at all."
    ~Ronda Chervin, Spiritual Friendship: Darkness and Light, 34~

    The only time my spiritual companion looked at my direction was when he asked me to pray with him at specific hours in the morning and evening.

    With the time difference we had, he reminded me of the importance of holding the world together through prayer. I slept, he worked and vice versa... and we met each other at our hours of prayer.


    I never thought such friendship could exist between two persons especially in this age.

    At those hours when I read and opened Facebook or worked early morning as soon as I woke up, he took me out to pray the rosary and we prayed Lauds/Vespers together. 

    He directed me to the 'hidden life' and re-arranged ALL my schedules. He never spoke of earthly things but of the life that awaits us with Christ where, he said, we shall meet one day. He allowed me to re-experience religious life especially my novitiate years. 

    "... in friendship are joined honor and charm, truth and joy, sweeetness and goodwill, affection and action. And all these take their beginnings from Christ, advance through Christ and are perfected in Christ. ... And thus, friend cleaving to friend in the spirit of Christ, is made with Christ but one heart and one soul ..."~Aelred of Rievaulx, Spiritual Friendship 1977:74-75, 2:20-21

    I knew in my heart, this wasn't an angel but Jesus Himself visiting me through this person. 

    To him, I was Jesus' white rose in the garden of love which the Bridegroom asked him to tend and take care of while he was around.

    Donald Nicholl in his book Holiness wrote, 
    "everyone needs a soul-friend, someone who loves you so much that he will never allow you to stray from the path of holiness..."
    ~excerpts lifted from Ronda Chervin, Spiritual friendship: Light and Darkness, 45~

    I was moved to tears because of the purity this friendship brought.

    I remembered, how at the time of my Ignatian retreat, the fear of relating with others especially with the opposite sex surfaced. I thought by not relating with men at all, I was living a chaste life.

    My friend taught me to love fearlessly ~ to love LOVE Himself not just the person giving it. It is in this way that love is purified and perfected by Christ.

    Stay in Love

    Our moments together intensified when he said he awaits the new life ahead of him after ten years of commitment to the Lord.  There will come a time when he has to be assigned to another place and our meetings will be less or come to an end. 

    In a dream I had, I spoke with Jesus and asked Him why, "Why in such a short time? Why leave?"

    And Jesus in that dream brought me to His Mother. And showed me three phases of His life: His birth, death and resurrection. 


    In all those occasions, Mary was there. She didn't understand everything from the Annunciation to His death. A sword pierced Her heart (Luke 2,35). But She stood there for Him at the foot of the Cross. And at the Resurrection, at Mary's death, He took Her with Him to Paradise.

    I related this to my spiritual companion and he told me that Jesus and Mama Mary are 'twin souls ~ twin hearts." 

    "What is beautiful about union in friendship is that such times of greater distance will be accepted, no matter how painful, for the friends could find each other in prayer where the apex of each soul is in touch with Christ."
    ~Ronda Chervin, Spiritual Friendship: Darkness and Light, 48


    And this will be my role to him, to stand by him until Jesus' revelations take place ~ to gently and quietly offer him to God, Who is the Author and Source of this friendship.
    And he told me, in return, he'll be Jesus' burnt offering ~ and his prayers will be offered to the world in dire need of them.

    "It is lovely to be able to love on earth as one loves in Heaven." 
    ~ Intro to the Devout Life III, 19

    Yes, a friendship that will last for all eternity... truly a glimpse of Heaven ~ 
    Love at the springtime of my life.

    So to that precious friend who has accompanied me spiritually these months ~ 
    "We are united in prayers and in love in Jesus."

    And I thank the Lord for this wonderful surprise He has brought into my life...
    ~anima gemella~

    I think of you...



    with LOVE...


    ---
    Further readings:

    Spiritual Friendship by Aelred of Rievaulx
    Aelred of Rievaulx: On Spiritual Friendship by Patricia Carroll, OCSO








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  • 11/17/13--05:25: Love Never Fails
  • *Note: Images from the Twilight Saga were all lifted from Google.
                   No copyright infringement intended.




    I woke up after an hour's rest...

    I couldn't bring myself to write, draw, make music much less do my usual spiritual readings. My blog was devoid of inspiration...  

    I took a momentary vacation from some friends...

    Midnight, I hooked into music and waited until my thoughts cleared out...

    -------------------------------------

    He came quietly into my life at the time I was 'ready to receive' love ~ 


    To care means first of all to empty our own cup and to allow the other to come close to us.
      ~ Henri Nouwen~

    He took me out of the frenetic world I lived in and brought me to his heart....

    I felt my pulse come alive ~ 

    Inside his heart resided
                 ~ the ONE I loved!

    I followed the rhythm of his heart beat...

    My soul learned to breathe....





    We mirrored each other's soul in so many ways...

    I loved children, he worked with the old and forgotten...

    We both took extra miles for the people we served...

    but most importantly,
    we shared Christ's love...





    Together, we were a team...




    I knew God will take him to another place one day...


    The threat of 'loneliness' surfaced....                     
    Truth:     
    "When your love is truly giving and receiving, those whom you love will not leave your heart even when they depart from you."

    ~ Henri Nouwen ~

    It's still a long way for me to understand the path leading to the Cross but

             

         It takes reality to truly descend .... 
    and teach the value of trusting the Lord...


    of giving up everything I held in my mind to be true...

      I was led to a place of solitude ~ where all my images of God have been broken. 

    The Light within continues to glow...

    He is a part of me!

    Death, sickness, suffering lured their way inside my abode... 

    but I echo his words..."Jesus is always present within you."

    Nothing can separate us from God's love.
    (cf Rom 8,38)

    Nobody... nothing 
    could ever satisfy me 
    but Jesus Himself.

    My eyes were opened to other people suffering the same way...

    "In the very place where we are most alone,
    we discover that we are deeply connected to others 
    through God's grace."
    ~ Henri Nouwen~
    The Essential Henri Nouwen, 1

    it's time to put this love alive...

    ---------------------------------
    Jesus showed me the way through the desert...
    to embrace it fully as His own ....

    Yes,
    never apart...
    but together,
    along with the others


    til we meet there...



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  • 01/04/14--13:40: Epiphany in Three Parts
  • "Human beings have an innate restlessness for God, 
    but 
    this restlessness is a participation in God's own restlessness for us." 
    ~ Pope Benedict, Homily for Epiphany 2013 


    The Creation of Adam by Michelangelo *detail of hands
    First part
    On the twelfth day of Christmas, I opened the gift my spiritual friend sent me at the beginning of the year ~ his gift of poetry and revelation.

    I see you .... 
    Your gaze is upon me. 
    You desire to consume me, you pursue me  

    Do you really love me this much? 




         I'd like to stay right where you are 
         There, where I can be so near 
         consumed by the fire of your love 
         Like a fragrant incense, a lamp burning forever at your side  
    I wish the world would know 
    How much you thirst for them 
    The Beloved to His beloved 
    The Lover to his beloved. 
    The Creator to his creation. 




         Beloved whom I love 
         Here take my heart, it is yours  
         I receive you, I breathe you  
         consume me day and night 
         Rest my heart within your heart 
    stay with me i beg you  
    Be a presence i implore you 
    hide not from me anymore 
    Take me now ... Take me now. 
    Wrap me with your arms  
    consume me with your love.  
         Unite my heart with Yours 
         let not my heart wander again  
         Let it rest in your love in your heart 
         Now and for eternity  
         My Lord, my Savior, my God.

    
    

    ~Daniel Bugnini, 1 January 2014~

    He gave me the liberty of choosing its title ~ but I would like to open the possibility to all my readers who read this the first time... what title would you give it?


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  • 01/14/14--06:30: Epiphany: On Life and Nature
  • What is my purpose? 

    As I sat and reread this draft the nth time ~ I wished a simple Thanksgiving would suffice. My 'peculiar' silence over the last months have again triggered some friends to write me, wondering if I had gone back to the convent...

    I just laughed and wrote back. I needed the 'silence' in order "LISTEN."

    You Speak by Audrey Assad
    source: YouTube
    via opendrive.com




    Last, year, while a few blogger friends focused on the word love, I mused on be-ing and becoming a gift.

    2013, brimmed with joys and sorrows, left me in awe of God. 

    With the dawning of "springtime" in March, the gift of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and conversion slowly unfolded God's surprises.








    The grace of starting anew was coupled with the birth of my niece in April. I saw how God smiled.




    Her birth was unplanned but I saw how my two nieces lovingly welcomed her presence. 

    She threw me off my schedule as my brother asked me for charity to spend time with her on my weekends. 



    *Audrey Louise ~ click here to view images via slideful.com

    Come May, a friend I met wrote me in FB and volunteered to journey with me through Rick Warren's Purpose Driven Life. The sessions had several demands on sincerity and coming out fully from my shell. I suffered by struggling against it but I heeded in the end. Unmasked, my friend encouraged me to write those pieces of me which were left hanging in the open [My Life as a Nun and Why I Left]. It was a real test of humility. And just like Jesus who manifested Himself to the Magi, the star led me to this friend who was just starting his journey with Christ. 

    That opened the door to love ~ the gift of acquiescence through self-revelation. 
    That also opened the door for me to accept other people into my life.

    June, I defined where my vocation lies... God refined it... 

    *Satur--dates ~ click here to view images via slideful.com

    July, Martha Orlando's super squirrel found its way to Twitterland and brought me closer to a spiritual friend [3rd part of this post]~ a rare gift I asked Jesus earlier while I reviewed my 2012 Vision Board.

    Around the same time, the Lord granted my prayers for a community. The Lord led me to 
    a strong Catholic community in Twitter [#CatholicFollowChain]. 

    Through it, I was gifted with a spiritual son



    A few months later, I developed a strong bond with #Eur2015 family

    *#Eur2015 ~ click here to view imagesvia slideful.com

    "Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours." ~ Mark 11, 24



    I have visualized myself in other places but the Lord envisioned me in Japan[paraphrasing Linda Lee, my mentor in VB]

    August, the gift of trust was developed side-by-side with our work. 




    My brother allowed me to "fly" [to trust him] I didn't know I had wings... 

    I had a very 'rare' personal encounter with my bosses ~ later on they entrusted me with additional work. Real educators that they are ~ I felt like a plant growing in their hands...

    However, with the gifts came several unexpected blows...
    Experiences of 'awakening'

    With my recurring theme on life also entered sickness and death...




    A few days after receiving this SMS, my boss informed me of Mam Mercy's demise...

    To her belong these posts I earlier wrote:
    Hidden Life
    Springtime 

    Sometimes, we're so focused on the stories we've heard of other people. The funny thing is it's the negative that sticks in our mind ~ what if we just allow them to share another side of them ~ their giftedness? their own share of holiness? their journey?
    Awakening our Soul is dedicated to Sir Lito Tetangco, Executive Director of GODisable International Foundation, Inc.

    By September, October and November, several devastating news rocked our country. The storms within the political arena with the exposure of PDAF controversies simultaneously filled the headlines with the Zamboanga crisis.

    Not long after, there was a strong quake in Bohol and Cebu. Then came, the worst typhoon ever ~ Yolanda [Hayaan].

    It moved our nation to be one and the world to save lives ~ people prayed and shared their goods. We are deeply blessed despite these tragedies but we continue to pray. 

    Facciamo memoria. Let us move forward but let us never forget how these painful events have united us.

    In the midst of this turmoil, I realized how fragile my parents were becoming. My mom had several instances of vertigo and my dad had a totally worn out left lung. It limited their travels abroad and 'our' trips here [my dad begged off to drive for long hours].








    How short life really is....

    Our own bodies could betray us ~ with sickness... 







    MidNovember, we received news...

    a person whom we love and admire for her passion and dedication for medical service became sick...

    I saw in her courage and deep gratitude for life.


    All these happened in the great Year of Faith. 



    With the 'idea' of becoming a gift... I was led instead by God to a special journey to re-learn things...

    ~ to love Him in the form of an infant ~ and cater to His needs...

         and



    ~ to receive gifts humbly from Him ~ to allow myself to be loved by Him 



    ~ His way...










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    *Note: Quotes in pink ink from Leslie Ludy

    When the Lord closed the door to the life I’ve come to know for ten years as a religious… 
    I had mixed emotions over what was ahead of me…

                          
    I have always prayed for a true and lasting love for myself...
                  
    Photo Credit: google
                                    
    The Bride and the Bridegroom

    I have come to know Jesus since I was three and have decided to be with Him when I turned thirteen. I thought of serving people as a nurse and as religious missionary ~ taking care of people's body and soul ... but Jesus desired more than that...






    I romanticized it all ~ ‘charity,’ ‘poverty,’ ‘life inside the walls,’ ‘prayer’ and ‘perfection,’ ‘community life’ and ‘apostolate.’ The Lord wanted my ‘heart’ and I felt I couldn’t give it all yet despite efficiency in service and length of years living with Him.



    Given the opportunity to ‘grow’ more outside, I felt that a part of me died when I left but the seed of hope was replanted in the presence of my mother.


    I 'thought' the next best thing for me was to marry. Looking back at how my relationship with Sam started and ended ~ I always had this feeling that I have scared him away with ‘commitment.’ Talking it over the table with my mom the other day… for two years, I have played deaf to their prayers until circumstances proved right that it was not him



                                   “You continue to get your heart broken 
                                because you are holding the pen of your life 
                                    and trying to write your own story.

                                 I am the Author of true love. 
                                I am the Creator of romance."

    Last year, I had an unusual encounter with the Lord through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, I felt Jesus knocking again and asking for my ‘heart.’



                                             I know your heart’s every desire.

    He sent me a spiritual friend... 


    photo credit: Google via my spiritual friend
    I want to script a beautiful tale just for you, 
    but first you must give the pen to Me. 




    I received His gift... 

    You must let Me become the center of Your existence. 
    You must let me have total control of your love life 
    and every other area of your life as well.” 

    ~Leslie Ludy, When God Writes Your Love Story~


    It was a journey of discovery and adventure into the depths of the Lord's heart as I took my spiritual friend's hand. I re-lived my 'novitiate' days for six months as he 'accompanied' me in prayer, reflection and most of all, in love...

    I gave the Lord my Memoirs… I was ready for the new chapter. 







    "Whatever souls are made of,
    his and mine are the same."
    ~ Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights


    to be continued...


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    HE encouragingly looked at me as I took a deep breath.

    "I am ready Ahuv sheli  {my Beloved},"  and I took His hand ...

    He reached out for the pen and wrote a beautiful love story ... 
            The gift ... "a mirror to my soul"...
              
                Spiritual Friendship
    >
    images from google and pics shared by melissa & daniel
    music Please Remember by Leann Rimes
    and Someday by Marisa Sukosol Numphakdi
    Reflections and words by Daniel B
    *NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT intended

    "I was there  with you as you were walking under the rain. You let me walk with you I was glad.


    I needed no words to say, you knew me.


    We walked together for quite a while under the rain stopped.

    Then another Person came, I know It's our Beloved- Jesus.


    He took His place-- He was with you.


    He looked at me and smiled as if saying, "I'll take over...We'll continue the journey."

    Then I thought, "The Bridegroom came for His Bride". 
    The Bridegroom's friend's role is over, now that they both found each other...

    "He must increase... I must decrease..."


    The Bridegroom is there to take His Bride from His best friend.

    Jesus.. you...me. 
    The Bridegroom, the Bride and the Best friend of the Bridegroom.

    I smiled at Him as I watched both of you continue the journey..."
    daniel b+
    ~spiritual friend~




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  • 04/19/14--01:00: At the Foot of the Cross
  • 'There' He led me to ponder on His GREAT LOVE...

    Everything I am before Him was laid bare... 

    I couldn't look at Him for a long time for I knew in my heart how much I have done Him wrong...

    and yet He continued to gaze on me, piercing me through with those same compassionate loving eyes.


    "I slipped His fingers, I escaped His feet, I ran and hid, for Him I feared to meet. One day I passed Him, fettered on a Tree, He turned His Head, and looked, and beckoned me.

    "Neither by speed, nor strength could He prevail. 
    Each hand and foot was pinioned by a nail. He could not run or clasp me if He tried, 
    But with His eye, He bade me reach His side.

    "For pity's sake, thought I, I'll set you free.
    'Nay --- hold this cross,' He said, 'and follow me.
    This yoke is easy, this burden light, Not hard or grievous if you wear it tight.'

    ~ Elizabeth Cheney ~


    ---0---
    Three of my former companions inside the walls appeared to me in my dreams for three successive nights. What baffled me was, I wore a 'habit' ~ the one that I gave up several years ago... AND... I felt this 'love' towards them. Have I begun to love that part of me which I have not accepted for so long?

    I have not entered a Franciscan church but twice nor have I spoken directly to any priest nor sister after I was dispensed...

    But this full week of silence has again invited me to look into my heart where Jesus wished to stay.

    I thought I could do much ~ write my reflections on my blog, do vids, create music and draw... but my time is no longer mine... 

    Looking back at those six months I spent with my spiritual friend, those 'novitiate days' I had with him [July-December 2013], I realized how much of my prayer life has been revived and so was the joy of 'consecration.'

    He has carried my cross for me for a time and when we met, he has taught me the value of real loving... by taking up my cross again... throwing off all securities, expending my energies for others, praying for others' souls...


    ---0---


    Source: Guy Fortin (@Even_haezer)









    "So did I follow Him Who could not move,
    An uncaught captive in the hands of Love."

              ~ Elizabeth Cheney ~










    ---
    A week spent with Venerable Fulton Sheen's reflections:
    Our Cross
    Good Friday 





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  • 06/02/14--14:19: Pilgrimage of Love
  • Most of us have special devotions. 

    Some friends offer novena prayers to their favorite saints. I took on the devotion to our Blessed Mother by praying the rosary. My family do the seven churches visitation lent time. 

    To those who have enough money to visit shrines, they form groups to go on pilgrimages.

    But there is an "inner pilgrimage" that we are all challenged to undertake in every season of our lives not just on special occasions. We need not wait til we get sick to go to Lourdes, France [to change our lives or change our patterns of behavior]or to visit Rome for a saint's canonization. There is an inner voice that urges one to take the road.

    This "interior movement" is summarized into four verbs according to my SD as we reflected on the Gospel of Matthew 13[44-46]: cercare [to seek], trovare [to find], andare [to go] e vendere [and to sell]. 

    It's scary and exciting at the same time... to leave behind everything and just go where God takes us. This is the 'tent spirituality' a missionary taught us when I was in North Africa.

    Heeding a friend's tweet: "Be ready to be interrupted by God."

    *last quotes written by my spiritual friend
    *No copyright infringement intended

    Tame your desires.
    Claim your belovedness... 

    Deepen the silence. 
    Discern.
    Pray a whole lot...

    Trust and go...


    0 0
  • 07/12/14--16:54: Love is
  • “Everyone loves a great lovestory and a happy ending.”
    ~ book description, Chicken Soup for the Soul: Happily Ever After



    photo credit: May Christine Tandoc; twitted by melissa
    How do love stories even begin?
    Love by John Lennon
     
    Some say, love starts at the womb with the 'encounter' and eventual 'union' of the sperm and egg cell.

    Others say, it's destiny 
    ~ it's written in the stars...

    Still most of us believe that it simply happens...

    photo credit: Google

     
    It comes at the most unexpected moment...

    Like a gift that needs unwrapping...

    and with the gift comes the elements of surprise and humor of the Giver...



    "Just when I thought I was becoming invisible, 
    you came along." ~ quote 


    melissa's photo
      
    Love came knocking at the door of our hearts 
    after the decision to become invisible...

    He opted to pursue a deeper calling as a contemplative and 
    I, as a single blessed...



    When love arrives, we could either
    welcome it with openness
    or
    dismiss it...

    photo credit: Daniel B+

    Can you imagine ALL the ifs that came into my mind?

    and don't forget the whys...

    I do not question God's wisdom...

    I promised that I will allow it to grow in time and experience the fullness of what we have given up on earth ...

    He came not at the time of want but when the time was ripe...

     
     
      
    -----------
    After harsh winter and fall,
     I opened the windows of my heartand rays of sunshine rushed in and
    playfully bathed me with its Divine light...

    I was to him, as he was to me
    ~a breath of Heaven.~
    -------------
    Richard Bach says, "To bring anything into [our] life, 
    imagine that it's already there...

    I know I have dreamt of him all my life ...

    Love, like songs, poetry and movies, moves and breathes on "forever"....
    so was mine.
    and God is faithful...

    one day... maybe not here,
    maybe not now...

     
    someday soon+
     
     
    Sources of reflection:
    Consecration http://www.worldinvisible.com/library/murray/deeper/deeper_8.htm
    Three Kinds of Love by Bishop Fulton Sheen https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MU1ns6fIHFg
    Your Vocation is Not About You by Benjamin Mann http://catholicexchange.com/vocation


    *If you wish to leave comments via email, write me at meltandoc919@hotmail.com. Thank you. 

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    Light’s out... power lines were cut. There wasn't a single soul in the street... 
    the wind howled like a hungry child in need of its mother...

    and there, without the daily hustle and bustle of life, 

    the Lord patiently waited for me...


    -----0-----

    Everyday is a practice to greet each morning with a smile… 

    I’m learning to receive whatever comes my way. 

    With my hands cupped, I reached out for God’s graces…





    What we had in Mongolia for the Medical Editors’ Meet was entirely unique. It was a quiet experience that will remain in my heart forever.






    I had a blessed time with my brother ...


    ... and with the rest of the doctors who participated.

    It was there, that the Lord established Himself as my rock...

    He was preparing me for something...
    -----0-----

    25th of August, I felt a stabbing pain on my abdomen... 

    After three days of consecutive vomiting, I decided to see a gastroenterologist. I had my urinalysis, CBC and ultrasound done.

    29th of August, my gastroenterologist referred me to an ob-gynecologist who immediately decided I needed an operation. The urgency of which came from an enlarged ovary that might rupture anytime ... like a ticking bomb waiting to explode...


    -----0-----



    The little pieces of the puzzle suddenly fell in place [my low blood pressure, low hemoglobin levels, dysmennorhea].

    I knew someday it would happen but it still came in as a surprise... I received the news with calm. My family, bosses and colleagues were very supportive. 

    I have always asked the Lord for a stigmata ~ that was too great a favor to ask for one who is unworthy to carry His wounds...

    He gave me a tiny cross instead to carry with Him...

    I thought of the people who bore constant pains in their bodies... those whose illnesses were incurable... the dying...

    and at the same time, those who are inflicted with suffering because of war and famine...








    People ask how I felt about the abrupt change in my schedules...
    Surprised but grateful...

    I embraced His cross... He embraced me in His cross.

    How exactly do I feel?

    Remember how our power lines were cut off because of Glenda [16th July 2014]?
    It was sudden and unplanned...

    Sans the things that gave comfort ~ silence without the distractions [tv, radio, laptop, electric fans/aircons, etc]... that's how I felt inside. 

    The Lord before me ~ with me ~ in me...

    versus, the howling wind outside ... 

    amidst the many voices that kept us out of focus...
    I just heard one distinct voice...

    Chippoke No Ai No Uta
    Song and Lyrics by Kameda Seiji (ex-Tokyo Jihen & Musc Producer)
    sung by Ohara Sakurako
    Ai No Uta

    I heard His love song in an unfamiliar language...
    -----0-----

    a preview to the next part...
    ~a gift from my precious love~


    0 0


    Precious...

    I have not fallen in love quite like this before...

    I vowed never... but...

    It was a gradual transformation from fear of 'relating' to authentic 'loving.'

    He took me out for quiet walks...
    with a rosary in hand.

    We prayed the Liturgy at our different hours.





    I found myself celebrating the Eucharist daily to confessing regularly.  He supplemented the day with reflections and spiritual readings...

    He brought me back to that 'world' I thought I have already left for good.

    What fascinates me most is how God reaches out to us in very unique ways ~ 

    He is creative... "Love is creative...
    unto INFINITY." ~ St. Vincent de Paul






    Worlds apart...

    You are "there"... I am "here," yet we are 'two-gether.'

    born with different charisms...

    itinerancy vs. stability

    following Jesus in our chosen vocations...

    lay and contemplative




    This is the "mystery" we share in this love --  without boundary, love transcending time, space, distance, moments.... it's the love that we both are privilege to have found...
    If you wish to know what truly makes me happy... 
    It's the knowledge of your rekindled love for Jesus, your first love.
    Fall  in love with Jesus till the end, never let go of Him again. 
    He loves us both and gives us this time to feast in His presence.... 

    -----0-----

    in Him and in each other.
    So be it+

    *in blue ink, excerpts from emails of my special love [I am grateful and very blessed to have you]*

    0 0



    10th of September 2014, as I lied on the operating table, my mom’s voice echoed on my mind before the anesthesia took effect, “You have been through your worst.” 


    I knew she was referring to the depression I had six years ago.


    There was a stark contrast between my attitude towards life.


    Back then, I wanted to take my own life. I lost all sense of hope. I found no way out. There was no single soul available to hear my silent pleas for help. Sleeping pills and tranquilizers were temporary relief to my disturbed mind. What I remembered most was this constant replay of negativities in my mind. It irked people to hear the same stories repeated over and over again.


    The psychiatrist explained the “chemical imbalances” that occurred in my brain and was immediately repaired by medications.


    My mom was there~ she helped release the “anger” I had deep inside…


    Now, I held on to dear life, praying that the surgery will proceed without complications. 


    Jesus, the Way, the TRUTH, the Light



    14th of September, as I listened to Fr. Barron’s invitationto allow the light to pervade the ‘darkness’ within… I realized that I had created a ticking bomb inside me that took toll on my health. God taught me humility.

    I have been silent for awhile. My journey is known to my intimate friends and those who frequent my blog. 

    People would often send me direct messages in Twitter asking for prayers for those contemplating suicide. I have left the front lines to my deacon friend and a psychotherapist who directly communicates with them. And this I say to younger friends who assist in suicide prevention, if you are not equipped, not strong enough ~ then find more creative ways to help. Raising awareness to suicide prevention is one.

    And in truth, the key is inside…nobody can open the gateway to LIVE [not merely survive] but you.


    Choose life!




    -----0-----

    I thank Ms. Gabriel Acosta, MSW@USW Community Manager, who invited me to participate in the 100 Voices for Suicide Prevention.

    You may also wish to visit Write Tribe to read more posts on #suicideprevention

    The 100 Voices Media Kit may be downloaded to raise awareness the whole month of September.

    You Matter Campaign is also a very good way to show you care. 
    Be a You Matter Ambassador.

    Follow these links to see how it works:
    Download a Care Card and share.

    -----0-----

    The Philippines has its own depression and suicide prevention hopelines:

    (02) 804-HOPE (4673)
    0917 558 HOPE (4673)
    2919 (toll-free number for all GLOBE and TM subscribers)






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  • 11/12/14--05:00: Self-Mastery: Humility



  • My niece just recently celebrated her sixth birthday…

    I remember coming home on the very same year she was born…

    All these years 'outside the walls' ...
    Ah, life!
    ~fraught with challenges one after another...

    but in all these, 

    the Lord has been faithful....
    constantly guiding and taking care of me.




    -----0-----

    September passed by so quickly. I took a leave of absence at the peak of our preparation for an international event. 

    I was left with no choice but to endorse my work to my brother and other colleagues.



     "You are important but not indispensable," my head nurse from my mission area once told me several years ago when I had a fracture.
    How true for most of us, who couldn't wouldn't want to leave work behind because of insecurity...

    I realized that sickness, like death, could come to anyone like a “thief in the night.”

     And while we were taught that "prevention is better than cure," most of us would still wait for the last minute hoping that things would get better. 

    In my case, it was a bit late ~ my ultrasound showed overgrown ovarian cysts that necessitated immediate operation.

    "There is a hiddenness to the wisdom of God that catches fire in hearts and events and places 

    and over time ever so gradually consumes the earth in love."


    ~ Rev. John F. Russell, OCarm, St Therese on Suffering



    While others took their illness as a curse, I was counselled by wise friends to embrace mine as a gift. The idea of being 'chosen' was far from my mind. Humility is a virtue I needed to learn everyday. 



    It opened my eyes to the minutest things that I should be grateful for. First of all, for that sense of awareness my sickness brought me. I began to see [and listen to] the areas in myself that cried for attention. I started to value myself ~ my body [my reproductive organs], my femininity ~ and others [esp. my family] more.

    photo source: Daniel B+
    I thanked God for:
    ... the pain that prompted me to seek medical help;

    ... the frozen section that confirmed that the cysts were benign;

    ... successful operation [without complications];

    ... support of family, colleagues and friends at work;

    ... my ob-gyne and all those who took care of me while in the hospital;

    ... friendly visit from a priest 

    ... Holy Host I received from a nun and a lay minister on those days I wasn't able to go to Mass;

    ... the power of intercessory prayers [esp. from Twitter and FB friends];

    ... my Satur-dates who updated themselves of my condition;
    and most of all,  the presence of a special friend who saw me through it all especially on the first month when I felt so vulnerable.




    I dwelt on TRUST and humility which made itself known through the cross

    What a long way to go ~ to completely and sweetly abandon myself to the love of God [through others] ~ who patiently awaits me... 
    photo source: Deacon Guy Fortin
    ... to reach out and touch their hand rather than keep silent, which many times coats "pride."


    "The more you open yourself up to being healed, the more you will discover how deep your wounds are." ~ Henri Nouwen, The Inner Voice of Love

    And so to be wounded, in embracing sickness as a gift, as a way to humility ~ I open myself up to facing my different fears, to be more compassionate of others, to lose myself in God's love...

    Prayer: Psalm 131

    ---
    Further readings:


    0 0

    Is forever only a question of the heart?

    I have always related it to a promise… or to a love relationship… but then I guess, I have to dig deeper into that…




    "Sorting through memories means holding painful recollections in a certain way.
    But memory never copies the past, 
    it brings the past into the potentially healing present."

    ~an excerpt from Turn My Mourning Into Dancing by Henri J.M. Nouwen

    -----0------
    I discovered that when my dad had our house rebuilt, it only had four rooms. He didn't have me in my mind because we both thought I'll stay inside the walls 'for all eternity.' After a decade, I landed back home and stayed in my sister's room. She was residing in another country and, like me, the thought of coming back home was not part of her plan. However, months before Christmas, she decided to take a ticket and spend time here for a while. 

    I had a self-check and I knew that part of my stress (apart from MRT work travels) was being displaced. I had an excuse for sleeping on the sofa for two months recuperating from surgery, however, the next days, I had to find my new place. I discovered a part of me that needed space away from the noises that occupied the house most of the time. 

    I found this room... my mom and dad's museum.

    Looking at it, I realized the importance of a ‘rule’ we had inside the walls of changing our rooms annually. I learned the tent spirituality moving from one place to another carrying only the necessary things with me ~ and opening my room to prevent accumulating clothes or books or those little gifts friends gave me ~ and most especially dust.

    I've talked about letting go and creating space several times in my blog but I learned another important thing about giving ~ the things that we kept might still be very useful to other people. It was brought to light by my dad's painter when he asked for our toys. He said, "They might be old for you but they are always new for my little girl." 

    So we started giving things away ~ and little by little what once was a storage area became a decent place to live in. Thanks God!

    While I started the whole process with a heavy heart ~ the pain of the changes I went through made visible God's hand throughout my journey. I was tenacious in some of my decisions because I didn't trust God enough. I began to reflect on how forever becomes an excuse to preserve "homeostasis," when what the Lord truly wishes is a life of adventure. He is, after all, a God of surprises.

    So I began to relax and welcome whatever He has in store for me... little by little everyday...

    Constant Change by Jose Mari Chan

    Reading Supplements:
    How long is forever?
    Does "Forever" really means forever?

    You may also write me at meltandoc919@hotmail.com for comments. Thank you+

    0 0

    My twin heart wrote me a message after reading the first partAnd so, yes this time, I am reflecting more profoundly on 'forever.'

    We often 'buy' its meaning from advertisements ~ ultimately to stay young and beautiful. But a sharp contrast is noticeable when we live in a culture of 'disposability' ~ throwaway living ~ empty promises.

    While modern technology aims to streamline operations, we create in ourselves impatience and quick fixes. I remember my mom asking us of the meaning of 'sacrifice' and 'learning to live with the questions.' Even marriage becomes a mockery by demanding a renewable marriage bill.

    Forever in love
    What is left for those who wish tobelieve? 
    HOPE.

    Children look on fairy tales for everafters. 
    Novels-turned-into-movies depict forever in the impossible 
    ~ vampires, witches, magic...

    There is a dimension in forever that people cannot fathom. Our mind can only reach the physical plane. All people die ~ life is dynamic ~ people change. Our human desires vary from time to time. 

    While contemplating on the Infant Jesus, God made me realize that He touched that human dimension and incarnated the very Word. 

    The only 'forever' I know ~ 
    True LOVE


    Echoing St. John of the Cross'Romance on the Incarnation:
    In perfect love
    this law holds:
    that the lover become
    like the one he loves;
    for the greater their likeness
    the greater their delight.

    And what is at stake when we aim for forever? 
    "Everything," replied my twin heart, 
    "including our own self-knowing 
    [We have to let go of the forever we know...]
    because forever is God's time
    Therefore, He designs what and how forever will be."

    PEACE.

    Only by loving Him can we embrace 'what is at stake [kenosis].'
    He allowed Himself to be that little child to be loved by us. 

    -----0-----
    JOY.

    God has to ENTER into our lives. 
    He has to be a part of that forever to make it work... 

    "Friendship will endure only in the measure that the two friends fall in love,
     not so much with each other, but TOGETHERwith a transcendent third."
    ~ Fr. Robert Barron [cf Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics]

    that one day, some day...
    this day... 
    TODAY... 
    our brokenness will be REDEEMED
    by 
    TRUE and EVERLASTING LOVE.




    Reading supplements:
    Thoughts on Forever by Jim Paredes

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  • 02/21/15--04:13: U-turn and Crossroads part 1
  • I was brought to the crossroads of my life at the beginning of the year and along with them were dreams, visits and challenges...

    "When the heart is able to ask itself and weep, then we can understand something." 
    ~Pope Francis' message, Youth Encounter in UST~





    The Year of Conversion


    Spring came to my life in 2013 ~ my U-turn to the Lord. 

    It was symbolized by the birth of the little sage...

    who is now two.



    The Year of Love
    Out of all the people in the world, he chose me. 
    He has a heart like my own. 
    Centered in the Lord, two-gether 
    apart we promised to live our forever now 
    2014 onwards ~ 
    by loving and serving the Lord right where we are now.

    The Year of Faith
    Two breaking news left me at the crossroads this year 2015. 

    While friends wrote their lists of resolutions ~ I found myself fully surrendering to the Lord's plans this time. His faithfulness is truly remarkable.


    15th of January 2015 ~ our Editorial Board Meeting & Papal Visit 
    I always knew that, at one point, we have to turn over the journal where I work. The years flew by quickly and I have to face it now~the end of our five-years commitment. 

    While I am very grateful to the people who cradled me after I left the walls, thoughts of uncertainty of the future filled my mind. 

    The Pope's visit was a big source of hope and encouragement. All his homilies were striking but it was the Mass in Tacloban and the Youth Encounter in UST that touched my heart deeply.

    Love's will was measured when my colleagues and I decided to attend the Pope's last homily in Luneta...


    Mom said I was crazy... that was the same thing she said when I left for the convent. It felt like that. As early as 3am, I, together with different groups, braved the road towards Luneta. A large crowd already filled the streets of España. Love does not mind the inconveniences. I thought, I just had to be there with the Pope...and we made it!
    Sources:
    Pope Francis in the Philippines 15-19 January 2015: Full texts and videos
    Encounter with the Youth: 
    Testimony of Jun Chara and Glyzelle Palomar
    Testimony of Leandro Santos II
    Testimony of Rikki Macalor
    Papal Visit -Philippines 2015 FB

    January 22-February 10, 2015 Visit from friends

    "Five years from now... where do you see yourself?"asked a deacon friend 
    in his last visit...


    A vision discerned in the light of the Holy Spirit's inspiration is "well-grounded" because it is the Lord Who provides...

    I repeated that ... the Lord will provide...

    Supplement Readings:
     Every Dry Land by Shannan Martin
    Abandonment vs. Hypocrisy by Fr. Jacques Philippe [sent to me by my twin heart~ merci beaucoup+]


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    Ninety days was gradually reduced to seventy-five ... to sixty ... thirty and now I have less than a few hours to face my fears...
    "Bless the Lord, O my soul!" 
    May my life be a song of praise...
    ~ Psalm 103 ~

    Three months seemed like a long time... and the agony of waiting will be over soon. My anxieties found their escape in dreams.

    I asked a friend to interpret several dreams that I had after I had my check up in January. As the days flew by, the dreams began to unfold one by one... 



    The test

    I found myself at the second crossroad. I was challenged to re-think my decision of being single because of my condition. These three full months [January to March] I saw how the Lord has opened all the doors for me ~ He IS a very generous God. And He gives us freedom to choose where we would like to go.

    The dinosaur was the cyst I allowed to grow within me. The anger that blocked me from seeing my future in a different way ~ it symbolized the people and the different voices that tell me "I could have..." ~ the blames, the hurts, the pains. 

    The dwarf is my creative potentials. My ARTnerhelped unleashed that side of me through an art group. The creative energies need to be re-directed in a more useful way ~ I let go of the blocks...

    The white tiger presented itself in many ways. In my dream, I was with children playing jumping with them. I never felt such freedom and joy! The tiger came along and even if it were not chasing me, I was afraid. The white tiger was my friend who came to visit me in January, it was the doctor and my colleagues who felt I needed to do something to "prevent" my cysts from growing. 

    I have ran away for a long time and I am facing my fears. I am no longer inside the thick walls [literally and metaphorically speaking]. 










    As if not to direct my thoughts on myself, The Lord sent me a twin heart to journey with me through this. 

    Quote source: Why We Really Must Keep Falling In Loveby Ann Voskamp

    He held my hand and reminded me to keep putting love out there. The Lord has made me fecund in surprisingly creative ways...

    They did not come from my womb but they are the children God gave to me to share my life with.

    10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord) by Matt Redman
    "For all Your goodness I will keep on singing
    Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find..."

    0 0

    "If we want to live a life of love of God, 
    we must not fail in our love towards our neighbor." 

    ~St. Therese of Lisieux~  

    For quite sometime, I've grown comfortable leaving a few notes to friends and "disappearing" for a long time without a trace... I was 'busy,' or at least I tried myself to be. I thought I was 'forgetting myself' by doing so. 

    I was not bothered until I felt restlessness and ennui within. I felt that the period of 'desolation,' that affected my relationship with others, was the door that the Lord used to 'break through' my heart. I realized that, in place of the 'precious' moments with friends, was a thick wall that prevented me from relating deeply with them. 

    I stopped sharing...I was no longer re-inventing myself.

    While confiding this to the Lord in prayer, He led me to 'three' courageous people facing different odds in life: A woman whose husband's sickness left her financially drained [he eventually died]; a tormented wife whose unfaithful husband physically and emotionally abused her [after several loving years of marriage]; and a young lady stricken by lung cancer stage four [a beautiful model struggling over the effects of chemotherapy]. 

    Many times I am quick to say I am suffering but the Lord always takes me to other people's world ~ taking my eyes away from myself.

    "What can I offer them?" I asked. 
    "Give your 'little coins' daily," He said [cf: Mk.12:41-44].

    The priest in Saturday's homily stressed that, at offertory, it is the very act of giving daily ~ faithfully ~ that is practiced so that we will learn to open not only our hands but also our hearts to other people.

    Later at night, I was 'admonished' by my twin heart:

    "The more you are tempted to stay in the dark, fight back and go out into the light.

    At first it will be a struggle just like any learning curve. But you'll get there...
    God sees what we would become if we allow Him to work in us...
    But the key is in OUR hands... Not in His hand..

    Occupy your mind to be the best that God wants you to be...
    with the gifts He empowered you... 
    You will be giving so much joy and laughter out there to many kids...mom&dad...

    your music... your drawing ...your love for kids...

    HUMILITY IS TRUTH.

    With that the Lord opened my eyes...


    His last words were the 'little coins' that the Lord were referring to. The things that the Lord has gifted me with. The difference is the 'attitude towards giving' ~ it should be enlivened with love and enthusiasm not an alm that I am obliged to give.


    I saw the light through the broken wall....



    and then I saw my brothers and sisters...

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  • 07/02/15--05:09: Love Memories
  • I had a very lively discussion with my mom early this morning. We ate "current issues" for breakfast ~ same sex marriages, relationships, single parenthood, life back then and now. I asked how she and dad reached forty-one years together ~ it wasn't an easy life. She said the younger generation either fears or eschews "sacrifice" and 'self-denial' ~ those are important ingredients to family life ~ sacrifice is the language of love [cf Bishop James Conley].

    Sacrifice took a new meaning in my life when I discerned to become a single celibate ~ gone was a life of security, of forming a family, of having children... the Lord gave me "other" families and children.

    "Real love is being open to the love that comes to you. 

    The LOVE that surprises us." 




    Love presented itself as a "twin heart" ~ one who loves Jesus dearly. For a while, I thought it would end up to something else but God had different plans. He continued my life inside the walls. He told me not to "look back" at my past like Lot's wife who became a pillar of salt [Gen.19,26]. A memory should never "paralyze" us nor keep us from moving forward.The Lord always intends that we live full lives.



     "Give us this day our daily love." 

    ~ Pope Francis, Do Not Fear Forever ~

    We celebrated feast and prayer days together. We "healed" memories by transforming them into occasions we could celebrate.




    While some friends kept dry petals in jars to reminisce monthsaries of flower giving, I have read that a "love drawer" is a special place where we could put all our treasures together. 

    My love drawer took different forms as I grew up. I still keep an altar in my room with the Bible and the LOH. My diaries contained stories of my adventures with Him and now I have 'our' blog, music and videos.




    I shall draw strength from the love we share in Jesus...

    I shall come back everyday...

    and I'll remember everything... 
           I'll remember you and me...

       with a grateful heart+
















    Secret Life by The Strange Familiar

    Related posts:

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    Part 1. 

    “Your face is radiant…” my mom told me this morning...

    photo (used with permission) courtesy of Raising Ecstasy 

    Closing my eyes, I saw, smelled, heard, tasted and touched Japan... 


    ...its 'meditative' ambience captivated my heart...
    Road to the Imperial Palace
    It's the first time I've seen swans!
    brother fish welcomed us...
    Tokyo Station at night

    Some places were familiar ~ my brother and I lingered here taking cups of coffee as we enjoyed the cool breeze nighttime brought...

     across McDonald's overlooking Hotel Mets Komagome where we stayed for four days 
    I often slipped outside during breaktime at the Bunkyo Green Court which was just beside the venue of the conference ~ immersed in God's beauty in nature.

    Everything carried an admirable and surprising finesse...

    ...from simple food preparation 






    ...to complex subway and railway systems...

    *photo courtesy of my brother, aot iii
    photo courtesy of my brother, aot iii
    ...to this...

    Truly fascinating! 
     The people were extremely organized and disciplined... calm and courteous

     Road to Asakusa 
     ...very creative...


     Okachimachi restaurant ~ with plates on conveyor belt


    ...with Italian influence...


    beside Japan Medical Association, within the grounds of Bunkyo Green Court

    Lunch at Denny's Hotel Mets 

    Our last day was graced with a Eucharistic celebration. I saw many people of different nationalities (including Filipinos) there... we were 'one!'



     Saint Ignatius Church at Yotsuya 

    As I concluded my prayer, I recalled all the beautiful people I met. The heart has its ways of communicating amidst the seeming language barrier...

    As I spent time admiring the artistry and fine details of Japan's exterior plane, I was moved to reflect on the ways these things were manifested ~ they cultivated an 'interior life.'

    It was almost like saying, "This is what we have... because this is what we are..."

    "Che cos'e' l'interiorita'?
    E' desiderio, e' cuore, e' attenzione a tutto quello che si vive dentro..." ~ P. Bini



    We were there for a purpose...

    *photo courtesy of Cecile Maramba-Lazarte, MD


    The Journal of the ASEAN Federation of Endocrine Societies, where I worked, was formally included in the list of the journals of the Western Pacific Region Index Medicus (WPRIM)!




    These were glimpses of Christ's Transfiguration... the Lord has manifested His ways beyond my imagination...

    I am humbled in many ways by His great great love...

    God placed me there for a purpose...

    ----

    Taking a peek at Part 2 on Vision Board with Ms. Linda Lee...




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      Part 2a.  Is it possible to love God and a human partner at the same time?

     
    photo (used with permission) courtesy of Raising Ecstasy 

    "...I meant that question for you." 

    Point blank ~ shot straight to the core ~ I was taken aback...

    I have read books on this theme more than a thousand times and even wrote about my vocation but how come my friend insists on taking me deeper into my call?
    ~ from a spiritual companion~
    ----
    The last few days after a month break, my friend and I have resumed our reflections on the Purpose Driven Life. This time, we dwelt on Growth (Ch.23 and beyond) and I have discovered in which 'particular' area I remained a child. I need to grow!


    I told him yes, it is possible to love both... we need not go further from eros and agape.

    "Then, what 'blocks' you from truly loving God... and from engaging in another relationship?" my friend continued... 

    I was asked to reconcile my mind and my heart. It is a long journey ~ but am I also willing to start it? 

    It is not enough to say that I love. I could have an entire discourse on this and yet have no heart ~ Love is not explained, it is expressed. 

    Do it!


    "Here I am! I stand at the door and knock.
    ~ Rev. 3,20 NIV

    For several days my friend and I worked on a list of roadblocks to loving. And in each item, he asked: 
          ~ how can I do it? 
          ~ how should I do it? 
          ~ how will it make my life better if I do it?

    He took me to the extreme coming up with the craziest ideas to counter the impediments and yet each time I did, I felt the thorns (fears) falling off and the horse blinders (lack of vision and creativity) lifted up.

    On the Feast of the Assumption of our Blessed Mother, I took a day of retreat and thanked Jesus for giving me a pair of 'new eyes' ~ a renewed way of living, loving and relating with others. 

    You Changed My Life in a Moment
    via opendrive.com

     Listen ~ 
    welcome the experience ~ let Him transform you.

    “We need that love to make us fearless in our devotion."
    via Catholic Online 




    I took these parts out of my Vision Board and surrendered them to Jesus.

    "Visualizing is what you want with your Vision Board, 
    Visioning is asking God what He wants from you." 
    ~ Linda Lee



    -------


    *Note: What are the barriers that keep you from truly loving? 
    Create your own list ~ identify the barriers ~ what do you do next?
    You may download our list as a pattern via opendrive.com.
    We suggest you do this activity with a partner or a friend or in groups.





    Supplement readings:

    Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI's Encyclical Deus Caritas Est 
    Jennifer Hartline, Falling In Love with God: The Greatest Romance via Catholic Online
    Peter Kreeft, Love Sees with New Eyes 
    See Life Through the Eyes of Lovevia Positively Present
    Scott Peck, The Illusion of Falling In Love, The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth
    Philosophy of Love: An Overview via Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy


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    I have ventured into a very ‘exciting experience' these past few weeks following my Purpose Driven Life Sessions... 

    ~ Silent, hidden, delightful ~ journey to the heart

    A couple of friends started asking me to pray with and for them at regular hours and I did so ~ diligently waking up at the time we have agreed upon to pray together ~ meditating God's Words as the day progresses. 


    *It has been several years since I have taken hold of my breviary and prayed with a community... 


    A group of Dominicans gathered in adoration and prayer
    taken after typhoon Maring.
    I had a chance to pray with them.

    Immersed in prayer with spiritual companions led me to understand the depth and importance of praying for others.

    I've also been carefully rereading a compilation of homilies and reflections of a Spiritual Father and took in short retreats and visited the Blessed Sacrament in between the holidays we had last week.

    Some friends would ask me 'how come' continue a life similar to the one I had before? How come when I had already been given 'freedom' to lead a 'totally different life?'


    "Man looks at the outward appearance--but the Lord looks at the heart."





    It wasn't the 'habit' that I wore that made me religious...

    adapted image on charcoal by me

    "The Beloved's Face need not be present on this portrait for the focus is on the Bride who takes her delight at the presence of the Groom that her soul longed for."

    ~ a spiritual companion~

    I ventured, yes, in an exciting but difficult task, to share something that should be lived rather than explained...

    Only God knows what is happening inside each one of us...

    Again, where you are in your journey is where you should be... 

    Pazienza! Corragio!

    But when the time comes that He'd like to take you into an adventure ~ be ready to respond...


    -----
    Supplement Readings:

    ----


    Celebration with my Satur-dates


    We practiced some songs before we had our formal lessons. 



    Thanksgiving after the typhoon


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    I write this on behalf of friends who, for years, have waited for me to break my silence over  depression (my own, several years ago) and the suicide and death of a friend whom I cared for so much. 

    April 2012, Holy Thursday, while the Last Supper and Washing of the Feet was being re-enacted, I looked at the altar of our church. Four years before that, a man shot himself in front of that altar ~ the church was desecrated and was closed for several weeks.

    I was in N. Africa when that incident happened and most of the stories in our place were recounted by my mother. I 'knew' how my mom 'felt' when I asked her about it.

    That very night, I received several calls from India, but every time I took them, they dropped instantly that I had to wait early the next day to find out what happened. I knew it was an emergency call. I opened my FB and was greeted by several messages from **'s daughter telling me to pick up the phone. I wrote her back and told her the lines were not functioning well. I communicated with ** through email and she told me our soul sister died ~ how? She committed suicide...


    The incident was caught on tv and another soul friend saw it. I asked two friends living in different parts of India to confirm the news but they have not heard of it. I didn't wish to spend Good Friday on the net but I stayed because several people started asking me why there's RIP posted on my friend's Facebook page.  Another good friend asked us not to sensationalize the news and  warned me to be careful in case an investigation starts. 

    I, admittedly, lost a bit of my peace. For five full days, I was wide awake.


    Depression  
    While reading the theme on this year's World Suicide Prevention Day, my reflections revolved around the suffering of a mental illness ~ depression ~ as a factor in committing suicide.

    1) I was not aware my friend was suffering from depression nor was I aware that she took anti-depressants. In all our conversations, I found strength in her words especially knowing that she took care of her little daughter ~ she never verbalized plans of doing this.

    2) Yes, she had problems which she openly shared with us, but we didn't know that these problems affected her so much that she'd take her own life. 

    I felt a turmoil inside ~ it disturbed me much that I was with her all the time and yet I really never knew what bothered her and 'why.'

    Was I so self-absorbed with Sam's loss that I was never able to truly listen to her? In fact, it was she who was consoling me around that time.

    -----
    Flashback a little more, in 2007 and 2008: I had depression at the last months I was in the convent.  

    It is true what is written in the 'brochure' ~ 'knowledge is NOT enough to combat stigma." Negative attitudes do not help neither...

    For the most part, it was 'fear,' lack of knowledge, negative attitude that prevented some sisters to understand what I underwent. For some, it was a locked idea on me 'acting it up' so I would have a good reason to leave.

    I have given up to despair ~ for me, it was time to cease being strong. I need 'other people.'

    For your information:

    1) Depression doesn't happen in a day ~ it's a period of six months. ADL(Activities of Daily Living) cease. Chemical imbalance occurs and delusion happens.

    2) With the delusions are suicide ideations. *I understood from this point, that my friend had been suffering for a time and found no way out.

    3) Consult a psychiatrist not a psychologist in cases of depression. Medicines are needed to correct the imbalances that occur. *Usually, the person appears hyper in the evening and couldn't sleep. 

    4) Stay with the person. Be really patient. *I'm sorry but I have not found this in my former community. It was only my mom who was extremely patient with me. I remember shouting at Belle, who was just around 4 at that time, to stay away from me but she never left me. My mom knew that I couldn't resist being with kids and she thought Belle could reach out. *She did and I am forever grateful to my niece.

    ------
    But aside from all these medical help, I found healing in love.

    The stigma was there: going to a shrink, visiting a psychiatrist, taking meds ~ I felt unloveable at that time. I felt unworthy, I couldn't work at that period ~ I thank God for my parents who were really there for me. *I remember they'd let me sleep with them. My mom would hug me often. She's a real saint.

    Grace found me and it allowed me to experience God in a real way. It took me several years to be converted but that earthquake ~ crisis moment ~ provided me much strength and hope to walk through this life again.

    *I prayed had my friend waited* ~ if all those who died this way ~ just waited...  
    Crisis is an opportunity to grow.

    At this point, it would also be good to raise the question of funds and projects in the government to help in this area. If we just take a look around, there are many suffering from this and money is needed to sustain medical assistance for a person to fully recuperate.

    In our families and communities, our own friends ~ give time and 'listen' to what is not being said ~ to what appears to be invisible. 

    And for those who feel faint hearted and weak ~ Coraggio! (Courage) ~ you are never alone in your struggles. 

    Choose life! 

    ------

    I would like to thank my BS (Beautiful Soul), Corinne Rodrigues
    who has invited me to write about this. She has been one of my pillars of strength. Forever grateful!

    You may check out the other links on World Suicide Prevention Day 2013 at Write Tribe.

    I would also like to thank Casey Bee whose blog has been a great platform for those undergoing grief. Thank you Casey for journeying with me.


    We offer our soul sister's soul to Jesus and His Divine Mercy 
    May she rest in peace.
    And we pray for her family.