November 14 could have been just an ordinary day. But today it is forever etched in my memory because I woke up to the news of the bombings and deaths in Paris.
How can some people be so filled with hatred to intentionally kill and harm people? Why is the knee jerk reaction of many to seek revenge and hit back? How can some people be so overcome with fear as to surrender and give up in the face of such atrocity? Why are there people who are so strong and noble of character as to be able to act out of love and talk of forgiveness and understanding during times like this?
I did not have an answer to my questions. I did not have an answer to the absurdity of the situation.
Later that day, we participated in a Marian celebration honoring Mary as Patroness of Pampanga under her title of Virgen de los Remedios. From all over the Bay Area, devotees – most of them Kapampangans – came to honor and thank the Blessed Virgin Mary. They came in faith and in gratitude, acknowledging that the God who chose a simple girl to be the mother of the Christ is also active in their lives and in their here-and-now.
How can people so immersed in a secular environment have such faith that is unyielding and so devoted? What happened in their lives that they want to hand down their faith experience to those who are closest to their hearts? Why would these people cling to a hope that is often derided and made fun of by those deemed to be successful and powerful by the world?
I did not have any answers to these questions. i did not have any explanation for the faith of those who came.
I was there with my whole family – all three generations of us. I went because I was one of the organizers. I did not have the faith and the hope of those fervent devotees. Neither was I still depressed nor gloomy about the events in Paris. But there I was straddled between what was happening in the world and what was happening in the small world of my immediate family. Paris was a tragedy. And yet, when I saw the fervor and seriousness of my grandchildren as we crowned Mary as our Patroness, I knew there was a Spirit moving in the world that inspires goodness in people; that enables us to choose love and forgiveness over hatred and revenge; that moves us towards hope and creativity instead of despair and destructiveness.
I realized that in the ordinariness of my daily existence, there is hidden the seeds of meaning and purpose, of light, of life and of love.
I am coming back.