I Remember Tatang

Sometimes, it seems, that the people who are closest to us are the same people we know the least. People would often first trust a complete stranger who impresses rather than a neighbor who has been helping them out over the years. They’d rather listen and heed the words of some famous man rather than seek the wisdom of a former teacher or even a former superior.

I often think of Tatang these days. And I realize how little I really knew my own father. It might be my failing memory but I do not remember too many stories or anecdotes with and about him. I do not know the pains and struggle he went through raising us up. I knew snippets of his joys and successes. He took great pride in his being a teacher. He was a member of their faculty choir and he relished that. He had a few friends and would rather spend time with his family.

And yet, he is constantly present, in my mind, in my heart and in my life. I look at myself in the mirror these days and I see Tatang, not myself. I sometimes catch myself just lying in bed and just looking into vacant space but with a contented smile as I think about the blessings I have received. That is what I remember Tatang very often during quiet moments. I love playing pranks on Jonathan and Jane and I remember Tatang’s childlike playfulness. He rose above his humble beginnings and peasant roots to raise us up in relative comfort and well-being. That is the story of my life – a small town boy who did pretty well in the big city. I look at my pictures and I see his winsome smile on my face. I need no stories or anecdotes to remind me of Tatang. He lives in me and in my life.

I sometimes feel that God is distant or even absent in my life. There are days His words leave me cold and indifferent. There are times I cry to feel His presence and I feel like crying in the wind. Yet, I only need to be silent and quiet to realize that He is always there with me, within me, around me, enfolding me. I need no proofs, no thunder and lightning, no visions nor ecstacy, to know my God is here. He simply is – in my here and now.

Sing with joy to God our help.
~ Psalm 81
Jesus came to his native place and taught the people in their synagogue.
They were astonished and said,
“Where did this man get such wisdom and mighty deeds?
Is he not the carpenter’s son?
Is not his mother named Mary
and his brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas?
Are not his sisters all with us?
Where did this man get all this?”
And they took offense at him.
But Jesus said to them,
“A prophet is not without honor except in his native place
and in his own house.”
And he did not work many mighty deeds there
because of their lack of faith.
Matthew 13:54-58
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