Eternity In A Moment

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The vastness of the universe is so staggering that we can’t even imagine what infinity is. And yet we get intimation of the universe in a grain of sand and a glimpse of eternity in a moment.

Consider light. The smallest quantum of light is a photon. Photons are what our senses perceive to see light. In its default state, light is white which when refracted differently gives us the entire spectrum of colors. Red is on the higher end of the visible spectrum and violet the lower end. There are colors which our sense do not perceive, like ultra red and ultra violet rays. Yet, of the colors visible to the human eye, it can distinguish 10 million different shades.

Or, consider sound. Sound is made up of phonons. Each sound we hear is actually made up of several phonons so that what we perceive is a complex of many sounds. I have been experiencing failing hearing. And of late, I notice that much of the music I hear sound out of tune. It must be because of my hearing loss, I do not hear the higher pitched sounds and therefore do not hear anymore the melody correctly.

Or, consider what is generally accepted at the origin of the universe. Everything that exists, both what is visible and invisible to us, originated from that densely packed singularity that exploded at the Big Bang. One can imagine that at least one of the particles in my body was part of that big bang; because matter, once brought into existence, never dies nor gets destructed. It may change shape or form but matter persists.

What is space but for matter to move around in. What is time but a measure of what it takes matter to get from here to there. And it again one can imagine, there was once at time everything was but one singularity in one place and in one moment; then indeed it is possible to see the universe in a grain of sand and eternity in a moment.

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Remembering A Gracious Lady

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I attended the wake of a gracious lady yesterday. Her life was princess-like fairy tale story. But where most fairy tales are meant to be short and fading and meant for mere telling; hers was long and lasting and meant for the sharing.

She lived in a kingdom by the sea, pampered as any only child would be. Till this dashing young man came around to win her heart. She left home and hearth to follow her gallant knight on his quest for adventure. She learned how to cook, she who never had to lift a finger to do house work. She learned how to drive, she who used to be chauffeured around. She raised her own children, she who had her own nurse-maid growing up. But with her love and devotion, she helped her Ritter (German for Knight) achieve great success in his quest.

And when it was time to settle down, he built her her own palace in the kingdom by the sea: perched high on a hill, overlooking the deep blue sea, surrounded by lustrous greens. And they would have lived happily ever after, except that she got afflicted with a catastrophic illness. it was one round of difficult treatment after another, with her gallant Ritter doting and caring for her at her side. Her children, whom she has raised well, have taken the footsteps of their father and have gone to foreign lands in quest of their own fortunes. And yet, in her last day, there was always at least of them in dating and caring for her, together with their father.

I have known her to be a kind-hearted soul, with a special for the elderly. Whether on their numerous travels or with people who works for or with her or even just some random encounters, she would take them under her wings, giving them extra care and attention. Her youngest son explained it to me that it could be because she was an only child who grew up mostly in the company of people older than she was. In fact, many of her close friends are a generation older than she is.

Now, the gracious lady is gone. But is she? I look at her husband and I can feel his love for her still fiercely burning in his heart. I look at her children and I see a reflection of the love that she showered on them. I listen to the stories of people who knew hew and I can almost swear I can see the magic and charm when worked on them. She is everywhere I look.

On some moonlit nights, when the amihan blows through the palace he built for her in the kingdom by the sea; people from the neighboring villages who have benefitted from her care and charity would probably see her silhouette walking through the gardens. And on some windy and stormy days, when the habagat blows in with the rains, they would probably hear the faint melody of her playing the piano rising about the rhythm of the falling rain. And when people will meet others who knew her, I can almost tell what stories they will be telling one another. Yes, she lives. For goodness, kindness, and love never die.

 

 

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Communing With Nature Is A Prayer

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I love doing nature hikes with Anabelle. And we do miss hiking and out hiking buddies in Northern California.

It is always a refreshing experiencing walking through the redwood forests of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Nothing is more exhilarating than breathing the fresh clean air along the seaside trails of Lobos Beach in Carmel. And what can be more breath-taking and awesome to behold than the panoramas and the vistas from the heights of Mt. Tam and Mt. Diablo.

I see the mountains in all their grandeur ~ solid, unmoving, majestic ~ and I am moved. A mute testimony to their awesome Creator. I enter a cathedral of giant redwoods and sequoias, heavenly scented, and instantly my spirit soars upward in prayer. I am on holy ground. I hear the birds, unseen but a mysterious presence nonetheless, singing their hymns of praise to the Almighty. Their melody is something my heart has always been singing all my life. Wild flowers and sometimes butterflies add a panoply of colors that proclaim the greatness of their Source. Such beauty, such bountiful silence, such boundless goodness.

I often feel like kneeling down on the forest floor and singing like I was attending a mass: Holy, holy, holy Lord! God of Power and might. Heaven and earth are full of your glory!

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Justice and Mercy

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When I am wronged, I want justice and retribution;
but when I do wrong I desire mercy and forgiveness.

In a world so full of injustice and oppression,
justice is needed to restore balance and equilibrium in society.
One wise man once said: “If you want peace, work for justice.”
In most action movies today (and these are often blockbusters),
people want to see justice served in the end;
and for goodness to triumph over evil with only the good guy left standing.
But the quest for justice can become corrupted and
can degenerate into an endless cycle of violence and revenge.

Justice alone is not enough.
Mercy and forgiveness are a bigger victory over evil;
for they break the cycle of violence and revenge.
It is the stronger man who can seek justice and can also forgive.

 

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Following Christ

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There is a great tendency today for people to do things for show or to make a good impression; not because it is the right thing to do. A popular expression is “What you see is what you get ~ nothing less but also nothing more.” There is no going the extra mile. There is no doing good. In fact, sometimes doing bad is perverted and portrayed as something good. Selfishness and greed are extolled as enlightened self-interest. Aggressiveness and anger are extolled as assertiveness. Pride and arrogance are extolled as a healthy self-image. Gluttony and hedonism are extolled as the good life.

This personality ethic is very shallow and superficial. The good things that people have done comes from something deeper in the character. It goes much deeper and comes from something stronger from within us. And this is the part of us that Christ speaks to when he challenges us to follow him.

Following Jesus often sounds foolish and foolhardy in the face of the self-serving pragmatism of the world. And yet, his way seems to me the only way the world can save itself from self-destruction.

The world has never been so much material goods as in the present times; and yet there are billions who survive on less than a dollar day. Who will feed the hungry, clothe the naked and welcome the homeless? Not the bankers nor traders in Wall street for sure but those who respond and resonate with the call of Jesus for love and generosity.

There has never been a more interconnected world than the one we live in now; and yet we are kept apart from one another by so much anger, hatred, violence and the desire for revenge and retribution. Who will stop the cycle of violence so that we can live in peace and harmony? Not world leaders who foment the anger and hatred among their own people but those who listen and follow the call of Jesus for love and forgiveness.

The world has never experienced so much material comforts and luxuries as today; and yet there has never been as much pain, anguish and suffering in the world. Who will ease the pain and bind the wounds to make us whole and holy again? Not those who wallow in comfort or luxury but those who take up their cross daily to live simple lives dedicated to serving and loving others.

 

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Being-With-Others

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I used to love get-togethers and being with people.
It must be something that I learned or got from Ima.
I loved inviting friends and families to such gatherings
and I love being invited to such gatherings.
I imagine Jesus must also have loved get-togethers.
He attended weddings, feasts, had dinner with friends, visited relatives
and, yes, he even went to funerals.
He had many stories comparing the kingdom of heaven to a banquet, a great feast.
Such gatherings are a celebration and strengthening of relationships.

It has been rather difficult for me to be in such gatherings lately.
You see, my hearing is not as good as it used to be;
and I have always been hard of hearing.
And at my age, I feel more comfortable being alone.
People close to me make adjustments.
But I hate it having to explain to others that I have hearing problems.
Still, I love being with people.
But I have come to terms with silence and being alone.

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The Tapestry of Life

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I live in a network of relationships – links to nature, to people, to God.
For what is life but a tapestry of the places we have been to,
the people we have come into contact with,
the events we have been part of,
and the God who brought all of this together for us.
I can live my life using these relationships just for my self-satisfaction.
I can choose to live by what the world seems to go by: what is in it for me?
Or, I can choose to live my life in generosity –
to give and not to count the cost,
to labor and not ask for reward.
The more time I spend in silence and prayer,
the more I am prodded to live my life for others,
rather than living it for myself alone.

So, the choice for me is pretty obvious.
Oh, there are times of temptations
when I would just want to wallow in selfish gratification;
or just to give up trying, doubting if my efforts are worth anything;
or succumbing to the blandishments of the question
most everybody else seems to be asking – what is in it for me.

I must pray and must pray without ceasing
– for the grace of generosity, faith, perseverance, humility, charity.
Until I come into the fullness of all the relationships that sustain and fortify me. Remember always the life is paradox and a mystery.

 

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