Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Of heavenly hosts

When I was about five or six,
our father would take us to a show.
A grand and spectacular pageantry,
unparalleled in design and artistry.

The goddess of love ushers in the night;
her regal presence sparkling so bright.
A hypnotic and captivating beauty;
An embellishment of the nebulous skies.

As the breathtaking night unfolds,
Jove enters with his majestic court.    
Displaying his four radiant moons,
it was a heavenly spectacle to behold.

Orion, with his brilliant procession,
parades two of his most glorious stars.
A dramatic and sensual slow tango
amidst those celestial colorful clouds.

As the silver crest takes its final bow,
resplendent escorts join in poignant curtsy.
The august moon descends in slumber
while all the earth rests peacefully.

Traces of this childhood memory
appear blissfully on some quiet nights.
A tug in my heart as I see the big dipper,
a reminder of those days with my father.

After my mom died, my father spent a lot of time looking at the night sky. My sister and I would accompany him as he carefully observed the planets, moon and stars. We would climb on the deck near our rooftop as he mounts his telescope on a stand. Turn by turn we would explore the curves and surface of the mysterious moon, or maybe it was Venus or Jupiter gracing those special, quiet nights. This is one of my best memories with my father even if it carries a certain tinge of sadness as I know how he painfully missed our mother.  It is priceless and incomparable for he taught us to appreciate the silent beauty that is laid before us.

Jupiter and its many moons can be seen
with a backyard telescope.

Venus is brightest and
easiest to see on a dark night.
Orion  with its gaseous cloud
is one of the most
 visible constellations.
The belt of Orion is easily seen
as three bright stars in a row.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

New Resolutions

2009 Tagaytay, Dondi Narciso

The first part of the year is over - the scale hasn't budged, my bank book's last entry was 14 January 2012, books to read at my beside are piling up, useless things need to be discarded, the thank you note for Sal and Julie I needed to mail last January for those candied pecans still sits in my drawer, the new bank account for the kids has not been opened,  so many things left unchecked: enroll in writing classes, take Spanish lessons, learn Japanese cooking, file US visa applications, apply new medical insurance, talk to new brokers for house listing. The only check mark is a clean bill of reproductive health from my ob-gyne as I passed my pap and hpv-gene test will flying colors. But I forgot, I haven't gotten the mammo.

I always felt that January is the only month that gives permission to have a fresh start for the new year always carries renewed hope. But then it is April, the greatest feast in our Christian faith occurring on this very day, the 8th day of the month.  It is the highest expression of our faith, that Christ was dead and is alive again,  a lesson in believing that in dying of the self, one will rise again. So it is in this belief of rebirth that I set out with my new resolve to have a fresh start, to rebuild those lists and change them to guideposts for living for the only thing that gives life meaning are those lists filled with generosity and love.

2009 La Union, Dondi Narciso

These are my April resolutions:

1. To always honor a new day that is given by sitting quietly in gratefulness and in prayer, ahead of all the calls, emails and things that need to be done.

2. To bless the food that is laid before me and to give thanks for the hands that tilled the soil so I may have the earth's rich bounty. (the tribute I did with Dondi really moved me as I have seen the sacrifice of the people in the mill)

3. To remember that food is meant to nourish and not to punish my body by eating in excess.

4. To care for my body not merely by looking nice and neat but also by spending daily walks or a good workout in the gym and having regular check-ups as well.

5. To see my work as a gift to serve struggling students who have come for desperate help.

6. To give my best in all I do as a sign of gratefulness for a life that is blessed with a husband who will give me the world if he can only put it in his pocket, uniquely wonderful kids, strong family ties, supportive and loving friends, and a job that is flexible in hours and rewards our family generously.

7. To love more deeply, beyond words and appearances.

8. To smile as often as I can even when the day is not as cheery as I wish it would be.

9. To spend a few minutes a day to talk to my kids with no judgements and advice giving.

10. To be more forgiving of myself and know that I am not wonder mom.

11. To laugh more with my husband and have quiet conversations as well.

12. To never tire of dreaming the wildest dreams and aiming to turn them into reality, ridiculous they may seem.

13. To carefully choose great company whether it be of excellent books or loving friends.

14. To always honor a day that  has ended by sitting quietly in gratefulness and in prayer, after all the calls, emails and things that I have accomplished.

15. To remind myself that when things get really tough, tomorrow is always a new day for a good start.

Homage to the Creator

Brahma Kamal, the flower of the Hindu God, Brahma.
It  blooms once a year but some legends say once in every 14.
The fragrant flower appears only at night and
remains for four hours before it dies.
It is an auspicious sign if one witnesses it bloom.

The flower of the Hindu god awakens
as the golden sphere quietly rests.
A purple crown of reverence,
at the foothills it is proudly laid.

If a flower honors creation by its presence
what immeasurable glory does man bring;
From the earth he did not take root
but was carved in the Maker's own hands.

Man's existence is Divine's expression;
sealed with His precious breath of life.
To be love is to live man's true essence;
the greatest homage given to the Creator.

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Promise

2010, Sri Lankan bride, Dondi Narciso 

As the soft rain caresses your body
and blossoms of peach sprinkle the footpaths,
I will dance with you.

As the warm sun kisses your face
while hydrangeas of blue line the promenade,
I will walk with you.

As the cool breeze strokes your hair
along cascading amaranths that adorn the fields,
I will sit with you.

As the cold wind touches your skin
amidst flame leaf flowers that blanket the earth,
I will lie with you.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

What the joy in her smile really means

A beautiful woman seated on a flowery cushion,
Light dancing on her face in an early afternoon.
Her radiant smile brings joy around her
As she gazes at the baby wrapped in her bosom.

It makes me wonder what she thinks,
or what the joy in her smile really means.
Is it the promise of years for her youngest of 7,
or the bliss of being mother once again?

The best moment I've had with my mother,
captured on the 7th of October.
I treasure this more than any other,
An assuring memory of love that is forever.

The memories of my mother are mere fragments of an early life. She died when I was 4, I'm not even sure if the memories I have of her are imagined or real. The photographs though fading and old are the only things I hold on to when I want to feel the assurance that all will be well for a mother's love endures and outlives her passing.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

A Celebration

   One  Saturday morning, I donned a white dress.
 With  wooden beads and book of prayer,
I set out for a day of mourning,
A friend's father whom I barely knew
was being laid to rest in a garden filled with dew.
What greeted me were grateful hearts and faces smiling
for a man so rich in goodness outlived time's passing.

I dislike going to funerals because it leaves a heavy feeling that lingers long after everyone has gone home.  But this was different because behind the quiet, heavy sobs, what I experienced was peace and joy that was very uplifting.

I never really knew Amy's father. I would see him when I hitched a ride from school or when I visited Amy in their house. It was a mere "good afternoon" or "kumusta po." I gathered that he got married at 44 years old and retired at 48. He spent the good part of his life taking care of his kids - a  favorite daughter and a favorite son. He was their private chauffeur, driving them around to their different activities whether it was school-related or otherwise. He was their tutor and taught them the treasures that can be found in a good book and even asked them to memorize passages from Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet.

I realize the lightness I felt that day was the joy of celebrating a life that was marked not by one moment of greatness but one wherein the little, simple and quiet things elevated a man to greatness. Looking at the happiness in the neighborhood kids' eyes when he calls the ice cream man to give them a treat, visiting the slums to give hope to the poor families or occasionally, seeing sadness in his children's eyes because he said "no" to their indulgence so he can help out those who needed more and knowing that through this, his kids will learn the value of giving and sharing are snippets of a principled, contented and happy life.

The Prophet says life and death are connected. I realize that Amy's dad often talked about his death casually because he did not merely understand this, he embraced it. Life and death are linear passages to get to our final destination. We must go through life before death and we must go through death to reach the final place where our souls can truly sing and dance. But the important reminder is no matter what kind of life we are given, we create joy and happiness in simple things - sharing a story with our kids, reading a good book, having a simple meal with people who are important to us, giving help even if we have very little, seeing the good in all things, laughing, smiling and thanking more. And when we have ended our passage, those we have touched and shared our lives with can sing and dance too because they know that we have wonderfully and thankfully enjoyed the entire ride of this journey called our lifetime.

As Amy said goodbye to her father, she held out their special book, now very old with brown, dog eared pages and lovingly read a passage as if she were a girl of 16 who is reading to her father in their home in Sikatuna.

And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, "Speak to us of Children."
And he said:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, 
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, 
and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


At fifteen to four, I sit and wait
with a party of fifty or even more.
Some in white and some in stripes,
always as the clock says fifteen to four.

Familiar yet nameless faces,
we await with all our patience.
Some days we have warm exchanges
while there are days I simply read my pages.

Today, I  chose to sit and mull over,
how minutes quickly turn to years after.
Everyday for twelve years plus one more,
I sit and wait at fifteen to four.

A thunderous noise broke my quiet ponder
Stomping feet with bags on rollers just as the day before.
Upright I sit so as not to miss what I always came here for
And as I gazed ahead of me, I see the three I love eternally.

Josh will be a senior this year in Xavier, the last of three. All these years I would sit with mommies, faithful yayas, and drivers  in the waiting room and I can't believe it's almost over. I've been waiting for 17 years in all but I will never tire of waiting for my three boys whether it be in the waiting room or as minutes quickly turn to years after, in our quiet rooms for a visit back home.