Wednesday, September 24, 2008

#1 fan

my husband showed me this scribble on two half sheets of bond paper, pasted together. obviously it was something from our six year old son, roque, seeing the writing and how the pieces stuck to each other. it read:

" i am your #1 fan ate, even if i am your brother. :) go ate!"

it was such a sweet thing to write, really. when i asked him when and what he wrote it for, roque said it was the day before, while his ate arianna was playing guitar hero on the wii. she was so good at it.

when i asked him what he meant by "even if i am your brother", he said "nothing". oh well, i guess he didn't really want to tell me or he didn't have any particular explanation. but of course, i figured that one out and knew exactly what it meant. i have two younger brothers.

though arianna would probably not admit it, as a brother, roque is really such a darling. when he comes with me to do the grocery - which he really loves doing - he never fails to throw into our cart a candy or chocolate (the kind he doesn't even like!) for his ate. he will excitedly do things for her as she asks him to, without even thinking that he is at times being abused - just like how younger siblings often are by the older ones. yes, i was guilty of that, too. but i wasn't too successful during those years... i remember one time, roque was saving his jolly hotdog to savor it when he gets home. to my pleasant surprise, he shared it with his ate that night. and it wasn't even because she asked to have some of it. it was he who asked her if she wanted some. :) and it was not even just a bite or two he shared with her. it was half of the whole precious jolly hotdog. :D

i wish my brothers were like him at his age. i'm your #1 fan, roque.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

service by the invisible

"Love through me love of God,
Make me like thine clean air
Through which unhindered colors pass
As though it were not there."

i forget who wrote this beautiful quote shared during a women's retreat i attended last weekend. all i know is that these words, so clear and intense, came through my ears and stayed there between my ears, repeating and repeating in a cycle just like a song stuck in my mind the whole day. it was in the context of service... giving it, and receiving it, wherein this quote was shared. it was the core of the retreat for me.

service is a big word. it may be threatening to those who take it seriously. it is uplifting when done wonderfully. giving service connotes having concern for others, willingness, responsibility, hard work, dedication, diligence, time, patience.

when my husband and i were called to serve in the children's formation of our community, i thought of it as an opportunity and as a gift. i have always wanted to be a pre-school teacher but circumstances led me to become a doctor instead. i don't regret being one because i also consider that role in itself a special opportunity and a precious gift. but being a sunday school teacher to my children and other people's children gives me a lot of joy - a joy different from the fulfillment i experience as a doctor. it was as if god answered a prayer i had decades ago. better late than never. i have realized that god's reasons and timing are perfect all the time.

it has been about 7 years now since we were called to serve and i must admit that although it has been an uplifting experience, there have been some challenging times also. it is difficult when children get rowdy, inattentive or uncooperative. there have been quite a few instances when in the usual busy-ness of our day jobs, we find ourselves cramming to prepare activities just the night before our sunday encounter with the children.

when things go extremely well despite the challenges we face, we can't help but pat ourselves on the back. when we see how the children are having fun as they increase their awareness of god in their lives, we feel great about ourselves and our service. and we really feel proud when other people recognize our efforts and literally give us a pat on the back.

the quote which keeps ringing in my mind makes me deeply analyze why i am serving. it prods me to ask myself if all of this is for self-gratification. it is an answered prayer... i feel joy when i am with children... it is an opportunity to use my abilities... it is a convenient outlet through which my creative juices could flow... i feel good doing something good.

days after the retreat, the quote has not stopped ringing in my mind. it has become a constant reminder for me about how service ought to be, making me realize that humility is an integral part of real service. it has become a prayer to try to make myself invisible in service. for truly, it is not about us or what we do. it is about god who gave us this opportunity to serve. it is about him who works through us. i should really try to remember that i am but his vessel. it is his doing, not mine. i hear the quote telling me - the more invisible i am, the more i allow his complete, unadulterated greatness and glory to shine forth.