I dated God a while ago.
Fresh from an overnight of precious encounters, I was dropped off in Don Bosco Makati. Thinking that a good cup of gelato would be nice to cap off the retreat experience, I walked to Amici. Turned out that the 10-minute projected stay went on to an hour and a half of eating my favorite Tartufo pasta while I read a book in Kindle. I was about to get my gelato fix when someone called my name and lo and behold, I found Fr. Bobby alone in a table!
“Sino kasama mo?” he asked.
I said I was alone and that I came from a retreat in Batulao.
I looked at my table and looked back at him with a twinkle in my eye that he pointed out later on as I replied: “‘Di naman. Si God ka-date ko.”
“Ah yes, solitude. Alone but not lonely…the life we lead.”
We went on to discuss briefly about something else related to that statement when the waiter reminded me of my pending gelato order. Fr. Bobby gestured that I proceed to the counter and I excused myself, thereafter, saying my farewell since I saw that he was about to pray vespers.
When I went back to my table and saw how the rest of the room had two people together or three or four making up a family, I realized how I was, indeed, alone. But unlike the feeling of alone-ness in the years past, I am actually…okay with it now.
The practice of “dating God” began around three years ago when I would find myself drawn to do things alone like eat in a good restaurant to celebrate, watch a movie or even sit in a solitary spot in a coffee shop with a good book in hand or just to be there. I’d imagine He would be with me there in the quiet and it felt quite comforting to think that He is there “dating” me too.
“Don’t you find that weird and lonely, being alone? You should find a partner in life!”
I would always hear that from people when they find out my age and what I do. I would usually smile and reply, “What is wrong? There is so much joy in being single and living out your life purpose!”
I guess the world has come to that thinking: you’re one sad individual when you don’t have a hand to hold or someone to hug and kiss goodnight. Maybe we’re too obsessed with finding “the one” to satisfy our heart’s longings that we end up restless, unable to sit down in solitude to look at the world in a different light. Maybe we need to shift our gaze and look at the fact that true joy is not equated with having a romantic relationship with the opposite sex. Joy can be found in the completeness we feel when we are comfortable with who we are and the life we lead -when we find what satisfies and when we know that we are enough. What we have is enough. And cliche as it may be, that completeness can be found when we have God within.
I sat there in Amici, relishing my gelato when a song came to mind. I went to Youtube and listened to the love song that made me smile. The week that was prior to the retreat I had, I was battling a different kind of alone-ness to the point of anger. I came out of the retreat with a different perspective of what happened in the past, a renewed sense of love in the present and an eagerness to grow more in love in the future.
God made me remember the great capacity He gave me to love and love and love only that my faulty memory got the best of me. I looked at not having a hand to hold with resentment rather than gratitude. Gratitude, because, I may not have a tangible hand to have my fingers clasp the spaces of another’s but I have always had God’s hand to hold. I forgot to hold that hand. I guess when we focus on ourselves too much rather than God, we will really get easily eaten up by our emotions and by the circumstances we are facing.
And so I took one last scoop of that Coffee Crumble gelato, I looked at the empty space at the other end of the table and knew I was not alone. I had never been alone.
I stood, got my things and walked to St. John Bosco Parish. It was just about time for evening prayer. I recited vespers in the Adoration Chapel and lingered a bit more before I left. I walked relieved, with a renewed sense of joy in being alone. It is in solitude that we find the God who loves us and who makes us completely satisfied with what the present gives.
Even if we may take so many steps back in the struggle to fend for ourselves, we would always find that He takes the same steps too, making us aware that no matter where we go, no matter how far we run, no matter where we hide…there is no space that we cannot find Him there.
He was, is and always be ever with us.
Kahit ano man ang mangyari,
Sa dulo laging may bahag-hari,
Magkaiba man ang mundo,
Magkahawak kamay, pangako
Ikaw pa rin at Ako.