My Journey as a Writer
"The Spirit of truth will testify to me, says the Lord, and you also will testify."
- John 15:26b, 27a -
- John 15:26b, 27a -
I hit the running trail and wondered, "Where would my wandering thoughts lead me?"
The image of an onion, with its many layers, appeared in my mind.
I laughed. It led me straight to the kitchen. That didn't surprise me because I love my kitchen.
And it's not just because of the Ikea white cabinets or the granite countertop or the ample space it provided me to move. It's probably the place where I get to express my creativity, apart from the painting canvass, the piano keyboards or the blank computer screen.
Relaxed cooking calms my nerves.
Once, when my husband got home from the office and saw what was on the table, he said, "Rough day at work, huh?"
There were five dishes for my family of four; it was enough to feed an army.
But when writing or running engages my creative energy, nothing is left to inspire me to cook. So it's quite a balancing act. Whereas I could live on plain toast and black coffee, my growing teenagers would probably raise their fists and report me to social services for starving them.
Anyway, back to my onion, it dawned on me that my inner journey had become such as that. The more I delve within myself, the more I realize the many mysteries and facets of my faith.
And the more I came to understand the faith of others.
Last week, when the rainy weather prevented me from running outside, I used the treadmill and watched youtube videos to take my eyes off the blank wall in front of me. My husband happily installed a wall mount at eye level for my iPad.
The Sacred Journeys (a historic pilgrimage documentary) by Bruce Feiler featured the different religions and their beliefs; but instead of seeing our differences, with the grace of the Holy Spirit, I saw our similarities-- the search for One God.
And there I realized I had been mistaken in a lot of things about these other religions. I shrunk with shame for my own self-righteousness and prejudices.
I could almost hear my Lord saying to me, "You hypocrite! First, remove the beam out of your own eye, then you can see clearly to remove the speck out of your brother's eye."
And I shook my head in wonder. It will probably take me a lifetime to remove the beam out of my own eyes. Whereas it may probably just need one gentle blow of the wind from my Lord to remove the speck from my brother's eye.
It was indeed foolish to devote my life changing others when I have trouble changing myself! I knew then that my Lord only wishes me to perfect myself through His grace. The work of changing the world does not fall on my shoulders for I am not God. He is the Savior, not me. My desire to change the world is still teemed with vanity and vainglory. It still boils down to my self-love.
I have to constantly remind myself that only love for God will pass through His furnace of fire. My Lord's eyes have a filter and can only see works of love. No wonder St. Paul had been so adamant about having love in all our works. Nothing is noteworthy unless there is love: no prophecies, miracles, gifts of tongues, exorcisms, and all acts of service are acceptable to God unless done in love.
The works that I do, however sublime or numerous, when not done out of love for You, my Lord, are nothing and will amount to nothing. But the smallest thing I do, whether it's just folding the laundry, washing the plates, and cooking for my family when done with much love and joy in my heart will pass Your filter, your furnace and will not burn into ashes.
Once again, I thank my dear little sister, St Therese for teaching me this most awe-inspiring truth. I thank all the help of the saints that You, my Lord had sent my way. It's in this Communion of Saints that I find much strength and grace.
For aren't You the God of the living and not of the dead? So all those who have gone ahead of me, who had run and finished the race, who had received their trophies in heaven, the Triumphant Church in heaven, they all look down upon me; And should I not seek their prayers? If I had asked prayers from my friends and families here on earth, why shouldn't I ask prayers from my friends and families in heaven, from them, who are now before Your most holy presence oh, Lord? They can see behind all my motives and even see whether what I ask for is good for me or not, whether it's in accordance with Your most holy will.
Yes, they are my help and my source of hope for they have been victorious; they, who were once sinners, are now saints. And they are only too happy to help me, struggling sinner that I am, who am still stuck in this vale of tears, a member of the Militant Church on earth who still have to put on the armor of God to avoid the snares of the evil one.
And what about the Suffering Church in purgatory? They too give me hope my Lord that in my imperfection, I would find mercy and salvation in the light of Your justice. But I pray that I spend my purgatory here on earth, so I don't need to pass through that place of purification and delay my union with You in heaven when the time comes that I should pass from this life to the other life. Yes, let me embrace my fire of purgation here with the daily yoke that You give, which are not meant to break me but to strengthen me; not to wound me but to heal me. Let me offer these little sacrifices, sufferings, annoyances with love in my heart for You. Then, You can transform me into a kind, gentle, loving and joyful child who smiles even in the midst of tribulations and trials.
Isn’t that what marks a Christian? Peace, joy, and love in our countenance?
That's what attracted me to my Born-Again Christian friends who loved the Bible so much that they memorize it and keep it always in their hearts. They had such loving, peaceful and smiling faces and I thought this is what religion should do to people--make them become the best versions of themselves. And I embraced them.
But it was not to be my call. You wanted me to unearth the mysteries of my own Catholic faith because there was so much wealth that's been buried in traditions and practices that we no longer knew why we did the things that we did.
Why did we go to mass? Why did we pray the rosary? Why did we honor our Lady and her most chaste spouse St Joseph? Why did we venerate the saints? Why did we confess to a priest?
There were many things I did not understand about my religion. And you called me to seek deeper into the truth of my own Catholic faith.
And like an onion, it had opened itself, layer by layer before my eyes. And like an onion, it made me cry. Literally. And it hurt me when I saw the painful history of my Mother Church but I also tasted the sweetness and spice of its many victories and glories.
And it is love for You that made me embrace this call to my faith. As Mother Teresa of Calcutta would say, “Religion is a call.” In the end, Your greatest desire is for everyone to be in one fold, one flock. So I embrace all as You've embraced all--saints and sinners alike. For I am a sinner, too who longed to become a saint. And I need a community, and You've given me my Catholic community where I thrive and grow and experience Your love in a deep, profound and mysterious way.
And I should not be concerned about what You do to others. You've said this to Peter when he asked about the fate of John: "What concern is it of yours? Come and follow Me."
Indeed, this should only be my concern, that I follow in Your footsteps, to walk Your path of humility, obedience, kindness, forgiveness, loving sacrifice, and peace.
And You've given me my community because You too felt loneliness when You suffered alone in the Garden of Gethsemane. You saw our human weakness, so You gave us the strength of community, of communion, the tradition of coming together and breaking the bread together and being One with You who promised never to leave us.
Like an onion with its many layers, you've given me relationships with differing depths of intimacy.
You, oh Lord, at the very core are the most intimate with me, at all levels (physical, spiritual, social, and emotional). Next to You is my husband, who mirrors all these levels of intimacy, and followed by my immediate family, the blood of my blood and flesh of my flesh.
You've then given me families and friends who would fill up my spiritual, social and emotional needs in varying degrees and levels, like the layers of the onion that would weave, overlap and interlock and cover my core relationships. Even the skin, the most superficial of all levels would serve its purpose and one I cannot do without.
Here I find the importance of giving and receiving support, of connection because we all ache to connect with one another.
The speech of Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg deeply impressed me in this regard.
Even in my writing, You've provided me with a community who would cheer for each other and rejoice in each other's successes.
The Barefoot Writers.
That's where I drew inspiration from. It was that community that inspired me to create my website Inspiredcopywriting.com.
From that community, I got helpful feedbacks on how to improve my site. I fed on the food that they served in webinars, and I was able to find my voice and my niche.
Inspired copywriting. It is inspired by You. It's not inspiring copywriter because it would be presumptuous of me. That is Your task to make me one. What You ask of me is to draw inspiration from Your life; to live my life inspired by You. And it will be Your work in me should I also inspire others to love You. That is my call as a Christian. "They will know we are Christians by our love," as the song goes.
And that is what community is all about--giving and drawing inspiration to and from each other so we may all grow into one beautiful Body of Christ, and we all thrive and not just survive.
And that is the same call that our dear Pope Francis would make, he who now sits on the throne of Peter, the servant of all servants.
"And that is how you can change the world… by changing yourself," my angel said.
"Just you," he said and then took a small pebble and raised it before my eyes. He threw it in the lake. It fell and created ripples up to the very edge.
"Is that such a hard task?"
I shook my head. A small pebble, that's what I am but plunged in the water of God's love, my life will create ripples.
I believed in miracles, didn't I?
I laughed at where my wandering thoughts brought me.
Onion. Kitchen. Pebble. Water.
Of layers and ripples because our lives overlap, interconnect and affect the others.
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