Pondering all these stress in my heart

Oh how events turn out after I wrote a post this morning. It was like a peaceful rainy weekend until the weather shifted into a weekday storm. While preparing my daily lesson “struggle” plan, someone called me just to see in a Facebook post that I was publicly reviled and I don’t even know what was the reason. I. Was. Stunned. I don’t know how to react about this that I cried for a while and just stayed in a state of shock the whole morning (I haven’t cried like that for decades!). 

Later, the not so expected happened. Agnus (a fictitious name) sent me a message request to confront me since we are not “friends”. Of course, to get both our sides, I accepted. I was called a not-so-good name. I was told to act better because I was a psychology degree holder. It turned out to be a “I’m okay, you’re not okay” game. Agnus won because I let Agnus win. 

But I admired that Agnus was exerting effort to become tamer as we exchange messages. Is it because it was pointless to argue with me in the first place? Because I was not really arguing or defending myself? Because Agnus thought I was denying? 

I still said sorry for not knowing what I should be sorry for. Though I was treated uncharitably, I tried to be fraternal as possible in my approach. That’s because I will never play as a victim. Pardon for being cryptic here.

Though I’m not in the mood to eat lunch, I ate. Maybe because of the stress, I was able to focus and make a week long lesson plan. I was really out of focus that I forgot that our class should be in the gymnasium for the outreach program. What an exhausting effort it was to show a smile in front of my students only to change into a sorrowful mood when I turn my head when no one’s looking. My consolation is to be able to share my sorrow to one teacher, who knows Agnus, though that was in a middle of an outreach program this afternoon. For the second time in my life, I felt what it’s like to receive a bad news during a festive day. 

Looking at my students’ clumsy way of involving kids to play in the gymnasium and seeing the kids have fun, I was able to somehow defocus from the “curses” I received. 

I was out of focus the whole day. But I did it prayerfully; pondering all these stress in my heart. When I joined our night prayers in the chapel, we have the usual examen where we recited the Confiteor afterwards. And it just so happened that we prayed Psalm 86, a lament of David. Oh the feels when we were reciting that. Too bad my fellow brothers doesn’t have a clue about my personal stuggle this day. Night prayers are always about letting go and letting God work. And here I am, this writing is my way of letting go. 

The beginning of Chronicles of a young Brother?

It’s still raining. And here in Cotabato, I think this is the coolest day here since I arrived last May 15. Sometimes, I heard, when the rain is too strong and the swamp overflows, fishes can be seen in the grass field of the campus. I want to witness that one of these days. When I was still an aspirant, there was a city wide flooding just because people forgot to clear the water lilies in the river. Well, this city is below the sea level. 

I don’t know if it’s because of the raining that our internet connection with PLDT is so slow. Alternative? I used mobile data with a Globe SIM which has an LTE signal here. If not for the intermittent connection, I wouldn’t blog again. The mobile data reminded me of WordPress. Force of habit probably. I always find time to be alone and reflect; I just forgot about WordPress. 

And now that I remember, I should come here more often so that I can write about my stress as a homeroom adviser, my battle against lesson plans, encounter with cheeky teenagers, bright kids, table tennis prodigies, cute dogs, and everything that revolves around my life here in my first assignment as a temporarily professed brother.

As I write down my thoughts, feelings and experiences, may the Holy Spirit move me and transform these insipid and plain water-like experiences into intoxicating and zestful wine-like life events (John 2:1-12).

The rain and my childhood

When I was younger, I love the summer season because I can play all day with my friends and cousins except during meals and sleeping time. And now that I am already in my late twenties, I love rainy season better. Besides, I don’t have playmates anymore like I used to have as a kid. The ambience just lets me rest in my bed and sleep longer. Because there’s no much activity in the house except household chores, I will go out and play as a child. Since there’s just lots of tasks to do as a teacher when I’m at home, the rain reminds me to relax and spend some time for rest, reflect, and remember the good old days of my childhood. 

Day by day

July 23, 1816, 200 years ago, twelve young priests made a pledge to the Our Lady of Fourviere in France. That was the beginning of the Society of Mary. One of these young men, Marcellin Champagnat had a vision of starting an institute of Brothers dedicated to Christian education particularly to the least priviledged children. As a newly assigned assistant parish priest, his encounter with children who have no knowledge about God fast-tracked the fruition of his dream as he got two young men to join him and become Brothers which happened in La Valla on January 2, 1817. He was just 27 years old that time (which is my age now). Taken yesterday, you’ll see two old men in the seating middle of the photo who celebrated their Jubilee or 60 years as religious Brothers in a very important day to all Marists. For me, 60 years is already a lifetime. 

One of them, Br. Gabe, told his secret on how is he able to stay as a religious for sixty years. 

Just live today, that’s what he said. 

As he was speaking, his words echo the words of our fellow Brother who said “Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself.” (Mt. 6:34)

O, dear Lord, three things I pray: to see thee more clearly, love thee more dearly, follow thee more nearly, day by day.

Saint Richard of Chichester

Nurturing the seeds of wisdom and knowledge 

[Disclaimer: A free-written journal entry]

It’s only the second week of classes and I am sick already. I don’t have any umbrella so I went straight to the classroom with the polo barong I’m wearing as my raincoat. Result? Flu. 

I am just wondering why is it when I perspire and my body cools down because of the help of the air-conditioned room, I still feel alright and no useless stress in my body? Anyway, just ranting because I teach every class with my high energy and I can’t afford to diminish my zeal with this acquired useless anxieties. Maybe that’s carelessness in my part. 

Speaking of energy, every class I attend to, it feels like my energy gets zapped in a good way. And at times when I look back and review my day, it’s a comfort that I tried to touch the lives of my students in my own way. I can’t say yet if I have touched their lives since I’m just beginning to sow the seeds of learning and wisdom that I am just passing to them. Or to put it in another perspective, nurturing their seeds of wisdom and knowledge. 

I hope and pray that their seeds would become a great harvest in the future. 

And I pray for my fellow teachers, the more experienced and learned than I am, to have a good health and avoid my carelessness in getting a sickness like mine.

A Theology of Taylor Swift commentary

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Do I like Taylor Swift? That was the question posed by Father James Martin when he shared an article on Facebook from America Magazine last Friday. Actually, it’s the thumbnail showing Swift that caught my attention. I must admit that she’s such an eye candy. Sorry, this is not a post about how much I admire her. The first song I can recall of her is Teardrops In My Guitar which I heard from a radio last 2007. My first impression of her at that time was that she’s already in her thirties. But when I saw her in the music video Love Story, I realized she’s only seventeen when she released her debut album. Her latest album name gives away how old I am now.

Anyway, the article written by Stephen Bullivant started with a Summa Theologiae quote which I admit is not familiar to me (I am not so good in theology, you know?). It says that no topic is out of bounds for a theologian. While reading, I am already anticipating a part where she (over)use her love life as a material for song writing especially heartbreaks. But no. It’s an article which tackled the theological content of some of her songs. Of course, she’s not overtly doing theology nor vocal about her religiosity. And I was not reading the title and intro properly. Talk about click baiting. A female theology student even said how relatable Swift’s songs are. And the student has a point. Taylor, like Adele, write songs (not just about heartaches) regarding their current life stage. Some songs mentioned like Innocent, inspired by the Kanye incident last 2009, was not familiar to me. So there. I’m not really a fan of Taylor Swift. Ask me about Lighthouse Family instead.

Though the article only notes that Swift has a lesson for us working in the church, I was challenged because I realized how big the responsibility that I’ll be facing this coming school year. How can I not be challenged when the author said to “take note youth ministers!”? Especially now that our school is in a “crisis” during this first year of senior high implementation of the K+12 program of the Department of Education. I know that the year is going to be rough when I learned I am going to be a Christian Values Education teacher for Grade 8 students, a homeroom adviser, a table tennis coach, a senior high school instructor, and a Campus Ministry staff. Using basketball as an analogy, I feel like a playing coach, who can plays all the five positions in the court, plus the water boy duty.

The article inspired me how to be effective in my teaching ministry; to take note what Taylor Swift is doing when it comes to expressing the “young adults’ everyday ‘joys and hopes, fears and anxieties’ (Gaudium Et Spes, 1)”. I am reminded of the book The Wounded Healer where Henri Nouwen wrote about a minister who is able to see in through the eyes of young men and women today, their joys, sorrows, hopes and dreams. And by just reading the article, I was challenged also to look into the eyes of my students just like the gaze of Jesus with the rich young man.

I am now challenged to be there with the teens no matter how hard would that be; to show that my presence is evangelizing (i.e. a good news); and to “brother” them.

And brother, for me, is a verb too.

School updates, teaching duties, Basketball, NBA Conference Finals, and waking up early

It’s almost Friday and I can’t wait for weekend. I started work here in Notre Dame of Cotabato since Wednesday last week and it’s a series of workshops, seminars, meetings, and lots of lesson planning for the next school year. Classes will be starting at June 13 along with the public schools nationwide.

Anyway, going back to my anticipation of the weekend, I am looking forward to the sports event of all the Notre Dame schools here in Cotabato City this coming Saturday. I am to choose whether to play basketball or chess. I don’t know which one to choose. If I’m going to choose chess, it’s because I’m good at it. If basketball, it’s because I enjoy playing and not because I am good at it. In fact, I suck at playing hoops. I am taller than the average Filipino so it’s normal for me to be assigned inside the paint. As much as I love putbacks, I still do find pleasure in shooting threes. I just love the swish and the sound of the net when I shoot from the perimeter (except when it’s airball). Maybe it’s because of the NBA Conference Finals that’s happening. I am rooting for Cleveland Cavaliers!

I’m still adjusting to the school and so far, I am still learning about the bankruptcy by listening to small bits of info about what happened to the decisions made in the previous (mis)administration. I am still finding it hard to adjust to waking up early. And that means the alarm sounds at 5am! That’s all for the meantime and please catch up with me in my Twitter account. Might be offline depending on the schedule I might have since everything’s tentative so far.