I don't consider myself someone who wants a lot of things. I think I generally have simple desires. And I'm so blessed in so many ways that I'm often too overwhelmed with thanksgiving to feel the need for much more. But every now and then, there is something, and this is one of those nows.
See, I have a long-term dream, to take my PhD, either in NYC or, pwede rin, the UK. But to get there I have these short-term steps ... one of which is to go to the UK with M later this year. There's a summer program I want to attend and in some ways it makes my longer term goal seem so reachable ... but in other ways it makes it seems so distant.
So I've arranged most of it: the schedule and the adjustments I need to make at work, the requirements, the research ... and now the only thing left is ... sigh ... the money for the flight and for the program.
My friends who know me well know my strange wu-wei philosophy about money ("If you need it, it will come") .... But this time around ... am I hankering too much? ... or is the amount I need just so out of my league? .... This time I'm more worried than hopeful, and there's a bit of desperation in the steps I'm trying to take .... It's something I've already cried about, and in the meantime, I've been working my butt off .... The summer holiday that I was supposed to free up to focus on preparing for the wedding has instead turned into the summer non-holiday of non-stop, incessant, back-breaking extra work (overload, freelance, racket, you-name-it).
So why this post?
Because a wise friend of mine once said that if there's something you really, really want, sometimes, you just need to send the wish out into the Universe and perhaps, perhaps, by magic or serendipity, what you hanker for will come to you.
So this little post is my way of doing that. Universe, I have already been blessed with so much, and I do know that kung di ukol, di bubukol ... but on the other hand, if this is meant to be mine, then please help me find the keys that will open the doors for me. Thank you.
I don't know why, but today I suddenly remembered a former student of mine who died a few years ago due to complications from cancer.
I remembered her face first, then her ever-cheerful personality (always smiling, her voice filled with delight, when she'd approach me after class), then seeing her when she'd visit school after she had already graduated ... wearing a bandana around her head ... and then it was only then that I remembered ... only then ... oh yes, she had found out that she had cancer ... oh that's right, she had passed away ... hadn't she? ... oh yes, I went to the 40th day Mass for her organized by her friends in the college chapel ... I remember.
And then I really remembered. Even one of her reflection papers, and part of the comment I wrote.
When someone you love dearly dies, he or she never really dies. Somehow you know that that person is still with you, and he or she is still deeply, profoundly part of your life.
But when someone you knew a little, and cared about a little, and admired only from a distance, dies, it's different. Sometimes you forget. And then you remember. And then it's sad because you know you will forget again before you remember.
A colleague of mine wrote a short story once, for our college literary magazine, about a teacher whose student had died. It was one of the saddest stories I had ever read. I read it over and over again.
I remember that in the story, he quoted the last two lines from Roethke's ...
Elegy for Jane (My student, thrown by a horse)
I remember the neckcurls, limp and damp as tendrils; And her quick look, a sidelong pickerel smile; And how, once startled into talk, the light syllables leaped for her, And she balanced in the delight of her thought,
A wren, happy, tail into the wind, Her song trembling the twigs and small branches. The shade sang with her; The leaves, their whispers turned to kissing,
And the mould sang in the bleached valleys under the rose. Oh, when she was sad, she cast herself down into such a pure depth, Even a father could not find her: Scraping her cheek against straw, Stirring the clearest water.
My sparrow, you are not here, Waiting like a fern, making a spiney shadow. The sides of wet stones cannot console me, Nor the moss, wound with the last light.
If only I could nudge you from this sleep, My maimed darling, my skittery pigeon. Over this damp grave I speak the words of my love: I, with no rights in this matter, Neither father nor lover.
Lent is probably not the best time to blog about this (hehehe!), but thanks to a tip from a friend, I found the Jesuit Gourmet blog. Not only will you find great recipes on the blog, but you'll also get an interesting, heart-warming glimpse into the life of a religious community.
I have a number of Jesuit friends and when I visit them at their house, I find myself (at the risk of romanticizing it) somewhat in awe of the community life of a religious order. Today was one of those days. One of the Jesuit batches invited our department to Mass, preprandials, supper, and a play that they were staging for one of their classes. Just visiting their house (uh, it's really a huge building with dozens of classrooms in one wing, and dozens of bedrooms in the other) reminded of the moments of prayerfulness and calm that I would feel just entering that building when I used to visit there regularly as a college student. Back then, I thought that I felt that way because the building is in such a tranquil part of the campus. Today I realized that I feel that way because of the people who live in that house: all of them, human and flawed as they are, bound by a common passion for Christ, and a common experience of striving and struggling to live their vocation for Christ as best as they can. As I walked through one of the corridors, I noticed several pairs of slippers and sandals outside one of the tiny prayer rooms of the house, and as a mental image formed in my mind of a dozen young men inside in fervent prayer, I couldn't help but feel a twinge of nostalgia and longing.
I had to leave early, but not before whispering a quick prayer for more vocations, and for my friends in the religious life to be blessed with the grace to live their vocations as God wants them to.