DAYS TO REMEMBER
Coming home is always a joy to anyone, especially when you spent some good years away from family, community, and friends. Excitement crawls instantly and takes you like a whirlwind and even leaves us out of context! Suddenly faces of loved ones, of friends and even places set us adrift. In fact, right on the first day of April, I started thinking how it would be to travel these days.
Previous travels had always been light and worry free, my latest flight from Madrid to Manila, Manila to Zamboanga took more than a week! Health proofs, certifications, and travel requirements before, during and after a flight are but worrisome for many who wish to reunite with their loved ones or meet with workgroups. I felt like carrying a set of documents for an auditor or for a SEC registration! Aside from swab tests, the mandated quarantine-stay was dragged long and uncertain with anxiety and torture if your laboratory test doesn´t appear on time while you await a flight on the sixth day.
In my experience, I have resigned myself to whatever comes along the way. I strove to relax, sing in my mind, smile to people even when they do not recognize a smile from my double facemasks, except the flight attendant who searched for my passport for entry. Grateful to a sister who helped me load on my luggage nearest to the weighing receptor, I felt so favored and cared despite that a while ago, I shed tears as we parted ways with the sisters whom I admired, revered, and loved in those inclusive years of study and community living in Madrid.
When this pandemic was first declared on March 8, 2020, my previous flight was re-scheduled much further and caused to prolong my stay. This gave me a chance to help serve the community in the little way I can and was tasked to caring for our elder sisters. To my surprise, the task helped me understand vulnerability, tenderness, value time of sitting quietly with a sister, punctuality, consistency and most of all, patience.
I remember Timothy Radcliffe saying about “being a missionary means to stay where we are, even when this may take risk of our very lives for staying.” Over the year, I come to discover more who I am with the people I live with, and who they are with and for me all along. As we all know, mission is not a mere place we are sent for some time or, a mere activity to fulfill; it is presence, constancy, fidelity. Indeed, a patient fidelity to others. This made me realize the essence of such word “fidelidad” as a promising ground for formation to any missionary (not just perseverance). It is a school with no books, a deeper sense of being, to recognize the gift, the presence of God even when all that surrounds you turns oblique as a storm. Fidelity is remaining with trust in the Only One that matters above all the threats of life, He who conquers all and sure to last till the Reign of God comes.
Meanwhile, today´s Scripture reading takes us to the human dimension of going back to where Jesus grew up. It underlines people´s perception of a “returning resident”. Mark 6:1 tell us the very experience when Jesus went back to his hometown, he was not accepted as he was thus, he did not perform miracles there because of prejudice, unbelief which can stem from simply being “son of Mary”, “the carpenter´s son” meaning, just from the neighborhood. As if, being born in a local place makes Jesus “unqualified” to preach.
I may be treated that way as well, yet, just as Jesus did, He continued with what He must do along with His friends. This time, it is not a requirement to fulfill people´s wishes because coming home is for a greater reason and this perhaps is Jesus’ joy, too: “to be with the mother, to stay with Mary” for some time. It is being present not just to make a memory, it is living the moment.
Clearing my room (though not everything) and packing my things to be home brought unbelievable happiness and thrill to my sisters in the community. They are true missionaries for they understand what it means and desired such happiness for me, returning home to spend time with my aging mother. Other things within these times are secondary. After all, I dream of simple moments of a good comeback, of presence.
Am grateful for every little occasion I had of experiencing life´s challenges and choices in each moment, in which Covid-19 threats and protocols have taught me whilst in Comunidad de Acogida. The practice of being disposed to whatever may come has awakened in me the reality that we are to live in the present to be akin to dream together, a life of constant gratitude and trust in a better tomorrow. Amidst challenges and at times even to our limits, our task requires of us not just perseverance but full confidence in His promise go to get us going. Though tasks may be taken for the first time, but the sisters are always ready to be there. An attitude to remain disposed is a desirable spice to continue nurturing. To ready to learn to appreciate, value others´ contribution, the efforts (though little they may be) which other members do to make our community life bearable, if not fully happy. For we are a true gathering of human persons, no saints yet, but missionaries of the Word.
This virus has shaken me to the truth that nothing is permanent. We hear of strong men and women who fell for the virus. Hence, we all are called to deliver a message of welcome and of care for we do not know how fast sun sets for anyone with these unpredictable sanitary conditions we live in. It is for real, that, the greatest pain one can ever experience is to hear a word that our own sister or brother is not welcome in her/his hometown, her/his very community. For by vocation as Matthew 28,19 asks of us to go and proclaim. Furthermore, the exercise of charity is a seal set in our hearts as bearers. Besides, in Mt. 25,40, Jesus himself reminds us that, «whatsoever we do to the least of our brothers, you did for me».