Friday, May 16, 2008


I remember walking into a holy place carrying my usual burdens-- among them the rent in the core of me that is at once the source of my writing and the filter through which I see the world.

I remember the many times I played in this scene: once in 1989, many more times in 1990. A few times in 1991 and 1992. I seriously thought that I would stop-- and I did, for four years. I would sporadically return when problems with the wife would threaten to overwhelm me, or when I would wake up to find that I had been overtaken by my own stupidity.

When the wife walked away in '05 the Almighty had been generous enough to let this happen when I was trying to run--and later try to save-- a company. It kept me busy. Kept me focused on something other than myself. I thought I'd found some respite after I returned from my first and only trip to Japan. I would still visit those same holy places with the usual vain hope. By the time I returned from my first and only conscious trip to Cebu, I was back in those places, seasoning my jasmine petal offerings with bile and snivel.

Flash forward to '07 and I'm in Baclaran: the same baggage wearing a different face. Like the people I studied in my anthorpology and sociology classes, I too, knocked on the plexiglass case. I, too, appealed to the Nazarene and dared to hope that my pig would fly.

I was back in those holy places throughout September, October, November, December of that year. I wept without shame until one day the glands simply quit.

In the time I spent walking from shop to shrine, I had retooled and rewritten the Novena of Confidence to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I simplified it, struck out the statements that insulted the intelligence of the reader (the ones that said "This Novena has never been known to fail") and replaced the requirements (make 81 copies and leave 9 at the shrine for each day you pray this novena) with something less ritualistic, less taxing and more reasonable for someone who wanted to level with God, and who expected God to level with him.

It worked, amazingly. I got my friend back sometime late December or early January. And for a short while I was as close to happy as when--
  • I realized I could truly care about another person regardless of what she was or what she did;
  • I realized that I truly loved and needed my friend in spite of myself;
  • I won first prize in that Talecraft competition in November
These days I don't go to those holy places as frequently as I did last year. This is partly out of disappointment. And partly out of an acceptance that I don't need to be there all the time, that He can hear me well enough regardless of where I am. I still feel the tug, though. The need to go there when the sunlight is slightly off in the mornings; when you feel a change you don't like or can't understand--manifested in the weird weather, or in how your body parts give out when they're not supposed to-- is happening even as you're helpless to do something about it.

When I finally went to the confessional I was able to resolve a few outstanding issues I had with my Maker. I somehow know that this latest snag is being handled by a higher power that means all of us well. I'm only asking that this time, once and for all, I be told that I can reasonably expect to end this labor when I push this rock up that hill once again.

Happy birthday, Tin.

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