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.
If we were having coffee in a weekend, I might be drinking a weak and creamy coffee just like Malcolm Gladwell once said in a TED Talk about spaghetti sauce.
I prefer tea over coffee since it doesn’t contain much caffeine and I palpitate when there’s too much caffeine in a coffee.
Coffee or tea, we will sip these drinks slowly so we could drink slowly and talk a lot.
I don’t know what we are going to talk about since we don’t know much about each other so I might say, “Hi! I am Allen. And you are?”
I warm up slow so I might be just listening more than talking.
If I am not going to initiate enough topics for conversation, you better be the ice breaker since we might end up sitting in silence.
It’s always uncomfortable for me sitting together in silence.
Is it only me just trying to fill up silence with words and conversation?
Avoid silence or encounter the person having coffee with me?
This is how I imagine our first coffee weekend where we get to know each other and I’m just here sipping and listening.
My life’s unconventional so you might ask me some questions that you might not understand as I explain my way of life.
So let’s just keep on sipping coffee or tea every weekend and I might open up more next time.
There is one Scripture passage that I really like which quotes Jesus as saying, “foxes have holes and birds have nests, but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head” (Mt. 8:20). Since I was in high school, I really feel unique and different from my classmates and friends due to my temperament, intellect, social status, and choice of hobbies. It bothered me even in college. When I entered novitiate, I just realized that one of my motivations in joining religious life is to belong to a community. Aside from prayer and ministry with young people, community life is one of our pillars as Marist Brothers and as religious. When it comes to these three, though I have been a Marist for five years (from Pre-Novitiate and not counting my school years), I am still inexperienced particularly when it comes to community living.
Last Saturday, I flew from Marikina to Mindanao for the annual retreat of the Marist Brothers in Malaybalay. As of the moment, though I know already my next assignment, I feel like I will just pass by the places I will go into. Like the comment of my former swimming teacher, I am like a soldier whose assignment changes a lot. After the structures of novitiate and scholasticate, I am beginning to feel again what it’s like to be a “nowhere boy”, a pilgrim, or an itinerant.
When I was in high school and in college, I feel often being “out of place”. Before, it has been a cause of stress and depression for me. Now, it doesn’t bother me anymore. Yes, I’m feeling a bit lonely now. But when you have these Brothers at your side (well, they are in their respective rooms now), who also feel lonely at times as a result of being religious, I feel that there’s somebody who is in solidarity with me; there is someone who, like me, struggles. Before, I don’t even acknowledge that I am lonely maybe because I am not aware of it. Now, I am not ashamed of acknowledging it. I must be aware of it or else it will manifest in many ways (e.g. how I relate, attachment to pets, tardiness, etc.).
I don’t really know how to cure loneliness. But I believe that contact with reality is a step towards getting out of it. I can be somewhere but I choose to be here.
Now I know why I was too drawn to anime when I was in college. Anime has been my escape from reality; it is my escape from my loneliness. I don’t discourage myself watching anime but I have to catch myself whether I’m just escaping.
To be alone can be frightening. But aloneness can also be a source of peace. And if that happens, that means solitude. When I realize that my happiness does not depend on someone or something (or somewhere), then that’s when I choose to be happy.
I felt lonely because I depend on the approval of others. Let me be true to myself. And for me, this is what it means not to lay my head elsewhere.
Today’s Gospel is taken from the account of John about A Woman Caught in Adultery. We have a day of recollection together with the Alfano Fraternity (the name of my house) brothers in MAPAC. During our sharing, I pointed out Jesus writing on the ground. What was he writing?
The answer: It doesn’t matter.
The Gospel reminded me of a wounded man hiding inside a Japanese temple.
One day, a wounded man entered inside a temple to hide. Minutes later, two policemen saw an old man at the gate and asked whether he had seen a wounded man.
“Relax, let’s drink a cup of tea. This brew is the best in town,” he told them.
Annoyed, they threatened to kill him if they found out that he’s hiding the wounded man, trying to force their way to search inside.
“If I’m going to die, let me drink my tea first,” the gatekeeper said then sipped some tea.
Then the looked at each other and decided to look somewhere else.
I would like to point out some similarities in these two stories:
- Both Jesus and the old temple keeper handled the issue with equanimity;
- Both the wounded man and the woman have their own circumstances which weren’t even divulged first. The wounded man might have been a bandit or the woman might have been a widow looking for some financial support from some men;
- The scribes and Pharisees will use the stoning of the woman to “have some charge to bring ” against Jesus as part of their ploy to dispose him; the pursuers in the temple threatened to kill the old man;
- Appearing “unconcerned”, Jesus wrote on the ground; the old man sipped some tea.
- Both were resolved peacefully. The scribes and Pharisees walked away; the pursuers of the bandit went somewhere else.
There are lots of details to reflect in the Gospel like how a male-dominated society at that time creates this system of adultery pinning the blame on women and letting men get away with it. I might be mistaken but I heard this is still present in some cultures up until now. This analysis needs some sociocultural perspective and that’s not my forte.
Like the wounded man who might turn out to be a bandit, so the woman might have been just a victim of circumstances. And for Jesus, there was even no need to dwell on the whys of hows. Jesus said to her, go and “sin no more”. What a way to express unconditional love.
I don’t know how the wounded man hiding in the temple ended. I might be just as beautiful as the sending off of the woman. I imagine the old gatekeeper telling his man to also go and live in a decent way of life.