There’s this beautiful hymn composed by Blessed Henry Cardinal Newman that became the song that ushered me to 2017. The reverberating line from that hymn is this:
“Here in the dark,
I do not ask to see the path ahead,
one step ahead enough for me.”
That was where faith led me in 2017: to paths that I never knew He would lead me. Each step, I was unsure. Each step I did in the dark. Each revelation caught me by surprise. There was a silence each time I asked and struggled to understand only to find later that I need not to. His silence was necessary.
I came back to missionary work in January of 2017. After three years of being led to Poveda and then to full-time studies in Theology, I came back home. I was initially alone in the ministry. Kuya Xavy Padilla and I had to dream and build it to where it is today. Modules were written and tested and the first Live Life sessions were rolled out. From one, we became a team of four. I was brought to wash more feet as I got appointed to lead it.
January was also the month I began teaching in DLSU. I was able to take care of more than 500 souls this year. Each time I was in the classroom, teaching about His love, I felt alive. It felt like I was meant to do just that. What warms my heart being a teacher is that one gets to listen and accompany the young alongside teaching. The many conversations outside the classrooms, the email exchanges, the “Miss, can I walk you to the Faculty Center?” were priceless. So many times that I found myself in tears before St. La Salle’s relic in the Pearl of Great Price Chapel, thanking the Lord for allowing me to experience Him in the classroom.
This year, too, I got to teach the religious: the brothers of Sandor in DBCS and now in San Carlos Seminary. Never did I see me being led to both paths. I initially resisted to the point of pain only to find that both gave me so much peace and joy. I found myself praying for my students; praying that they would love God more and stay true to their calling. Little did I know, being there led me to where He really wanted me to belong.
I turned 30 this year, too. On my birthday, I finally found the Pearl of Great Price. I finally found where He wanted me to be. Funny how I was “at home” in it for so long. Funny how, as if, the road had been laid out for me from the beginning. How in all the details of my life, there was a sign post to the life He wanted to me lead and how I could respond to His call to servanthood. In the months that followed, I got affirmed all the more and I am entering 2018 excited for “new beginnings.”
2017 also became the year of falling in love and letting go. It was the year where I concretely learned that to love is, indeed, to will the good of the other. But it was not just the kind of love that was romantic; painfully, I got a glimpse of what agape was. I figured how I could never get to give myself as a gift without firstly being vulnerable. I found out that to be vulnerable requires an openness that would allow others to strike you where it hurts. And yet despite of that possibility, you still continue to do so. You still continue to love. Why? Because there was no other way to joy but to love. Mother Teresa was right in saying that one has to love until it hurts no more. I went through the stages this year and I continue to strive to love with the same conviction that I do because He loved me first.
That picture above was taken on the final trek in Masungi Georeserve. I took the hike together with family yesterday. Dusk came upon us as we hit the end of the trail and I found it as a beautiful ending to how 2017 was for me. Whatever 2018 may bring may still prove to be uncertain and you can say that we are still “in the dark.” But God does not allow us to tread life without enough light to guide us through. When I walked in that scary bridge towards the end of the hike, I found the lights so beautiful that the fear of knowing I was walking through a roped bridge only became secondary to the feeling of awe and wonder.
I guess I end 2017 with that: AWE AND WONDER. Awe and wonder at the many beautiful interruptions of God in my life. Awe and wonder at the paths I now tread that may be larger than life but gives me this certitude that I am where He wants me to be. Awe and wonder at what will be next. If 2017 was a difficult but wonderful year, how much more in 2018? Just looking at the schedules I have for January already brings my heart to beat with so much love and gratitude to the God who called me to lead this kind of life.
I end 2017 with awe and wonder in a God who called me, who chose me, who looked upon me with mercy and who lavished and continues to lavish me with a love that I know not where it ends.
And this awe and wonder at this God of love makes my heart raring to reach more people next year. To reach more roads leading to Him next year. To listen more, to accompany others more, to lead more to the Living Water that quenches the thirst of our souls.
Lead on Kindly Light by Audrey Assad, which is based on the hymn I mentioned at the beginning ends with these words:
“And in the night, when I was afraid
Your feet beside my own on the way
Each stumbling step where other men have trod
shortens the road leading home to my God
Lead on, lead on,
my God, my God,
lead on, lead on, kindly light.”
I do not know what 2018 will bring but I am sure that when I have You beside me, everything will be fine. So lead me on, Lord. Lead me home to You. If 2017 was a step closer, I await 2018 with joy.
With awe and wonder, with a heart overflowing with gratitude, with my entire being radiating with joy.