I love the fog specially as it comes in from San Francisco Bay. I find it a refreshing sight and an invigorating experience as it breezes by me. It may seem a very ordinary thing but it is an essential element of the Bay Area ecology. During this time of severe drought in the area, the fog delivers the much needed water to the thirsty land. I was amazed to learn that the famous redwoods along the California coast are water-guzzling behemoths, drinking as much 500 gallons a day, with much of this water soaked in from the fog that comes in from the ocean. Fog may seem gentle as it rolls inland but it can be chilling and often comes in gale-force gusts. Anabelle and I were once on top of the Twin Peaks just as the fog was coming in. I thought we would get blown off the peak as the bone-chilling fog hit us.
And so it is in life. Ordinary everyday events have a lot to teach us. Jane calls Jonathan Kuya, something we taught her from the first moment she could speak. It is a simple and ordinary Filipino word. But that one word carries with it a world of meaning impossible to capture in words. When Jane calls Jonathan Kuya, she gives him her respect and devotion that is better caught than taught. Kuya has the answers for all the questions she cannot answer. It is Kuya who puts together her Lego toys, specially her Hello Kitty collection. Kuya is a constant companion, and always makes her laugh with his silly antics. Oh, they quarrel and bicker often; but she knows Kuya will always be there for her.
And when Jane calls her Kuya, Jonathan is always aware that he is responsible for Jane. He will always look after her. Jane often gets on his nerve but I love to see him drop whatever it is he is doing just to answer Jane’s questions, no mater how inane, or to do something for her like set-up a video game for her. When Jane gets stuck in her homework, Kuya comes to the rescue. There is a special place in Kuya’s heart that is reserved only for Jane and no one else is supposed to reside in there, forever.
And so it is in the things of the spirit. Paradoxically, it is the ordinary events of everyday life that have led me to a deeper spiritual life. Disappointments, pain and suffering are stuff that comes with everyday life. These crosses may be small ones like an appointment that goes awry. Or, they may be big ones, like losing or getting fired from a job. But these crosses actually are portals that open up to new possibilities or steps that to take me up to the next level. It is when I cling to things or persons that I tend to lose them. But when I let them be, let go and let God; they linger and stay and become more and better.
Nothing makes me realize better how the ordinary intersects the sublime and the exceptional than when we get together as a family for dinner. Dinner is more than just about the food we share. It is about the love and devotion of Mommy and Daddy bringing home the bacon. In the process, they share stories of their work as teacher and programmer, the frustration and the rewards, the ordinary and the exceptional events at their places of work. Dinner is about Kuya and bunso gleefully telling us something that happened in school, about Curran this and Gabrielle that, about the field trip to the Tech Museum or the new song they learned in class. Dinner is about Lolo and Lola listening in on the side, a quiet presence in the the blossoming of a young family, trying to help make things a little bit easier, a lit bit better.
Just as the fog rolls in from the bay to quench the thirst redwoods, so does the grace of God abide at our dinner table, transforming something ordinary into a sublime and sacred experience.
My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.
Then Jesus told his disciples,
“If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves
and take up their cross and follow me.
For those who want to save their life will lose it,
and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.
For what will it profit them
if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life?
Or what will they give in return for their life?”