Saturday, February 2, 2013

Age of Restoration

I was sitting in the outer pews, in a church that has always been home.

In quiet solitude, I sat there as the breeze playfully caressed my skin, and the frosty afternoon sun yielded behind the mass of clouds. It's been ages since I returned. Nearly five months after I have said that one prayer that turned my life around.

I could have been some place else, perhaps at the Manila Seedling Bank to scout for herbs to put outside my window; or in the nearby hills where I retreat to watch the city illuminate as darkness blanket the sky. But I chose the monasterio as my destination. To restore old ties maybe, to confide to my creator the contents of my heart.

"Carlos Celdran convicted for Damaso Act," the feed read on Twitter. I was about to perform my acts of redemption when I thought of checking my account. The timeline fills with collective uproar against the decision. The indignation was directed at the priests who run the holy shrines I found myself in.

It is no secret that I have experienced doubts with my religion. I had my share of condemnation, repugnance, even disdain to those who blindly followed instructions I never embraced. I have seen how some men-in-robes sunk to such lows one could never thought doing. With my modern leanings in full swing and hypocrisy shoved down my throat by the same church I belong, I was close to believing that my faith no longer aligns with those of my religion.

I was tempted to join another sect.

But faith is something I have, without the trappings of doctrines. For this reason, I have deep respects for other creeds that don't lay claim monopoly on salvation. I may not show up during Eucharistic celebrations or pay attention to holy icons occupying the corners of my home, but I still know where my belief lies, even when it was being shrouded by forces I could no longer understand.

I sat there, in that long wooden chair, with moving kneeling pads across my feet. Not sure to pursue my intentions, or walk out as another non-believer.

"Do you still affirm that the temple is in your heart?" I contemplated.

"What brings you here in the first place?"

And then, like a sudden passing of the wind, I remember how I fell from grace. From that one intercession "to end the cycle," to the painful disunion that came a week later.

It was never easy to crumble into pieces, and lose the very earth that keeps you grounded. Something within had been disillusioned, and for this, I stopped going to church. But for some reasons, I have managed to stay afloat. Wounded and hurting, faith never faltered. And even when it seemed like I had to go through the most difficult upheavals on my own.

Somewhere in the cosmos never left. It took me some time to see it, but revelation is getting through.

"Count your blessings," the inner voice said. "Even when your heart could not easily see, the light shining before you."

"And don't mind the priests. They're as imperfect as you are."

I smiled.

With a pocket bible beside me, and a teal rosary wrapped around my hand, I began the Apostles Creed with my eyes closed and with my mind recalling the graces.

"...The pay raise, the chance to manage a project and earning the goodwill of the client, the arrival of the weatherman, meeting the Barakos, a prosperous holiday, a flat-screen TV from a relative abroad, the return of the helpers who have left, the random acts of kindness I never spoke, the recovery of Diego from sickness, the new laptop from the favorite aunt...."

So many to thank for. And my eyes began to see.