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.