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Wednesday , 27 March 2024

Standing still by a truth and love cuppa

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Dina Mananquil-Delfino
Dina Mananquil-Delfino
Dina was former editor-in-chief of The Philippine Times and has been its columnist for over 20 years. She has written two books, "Colours of Life" and "Under His Wings". Dina has been in the helping field for 40 years in the various roles she has fulfilled – teacher, employee in different organisations, volunteer, pastoral care worker. She is a member of Australian Counsellors of Australia (ACA) and Counsellors Victoria (CV). DINA IS A QUALIFIED COUNSELOR AND PASTORAL CARE WORKER. She can be contacted on 0430 214 917. Email dinadelfino.tlc@gmail.com for comments or feedback on this story).

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. — Matthew 5:7

I was about to start my Rosary group at the nursing home where I worked as a pastoral care practitioner when I noticed Norman (not his real name, aged 93), who was sitting in the chapel alone, his Parkinson’s tremors quite pronounced. He was looking so forlorn.

I joined him and asked how he was doing, and with a defeated shrug of his shoulders, he muttered in Italian and became quite tearful. I knew that he was not in a good place. The body language is very familiar to me. I saw it in my dad a few months before he died – the frustration, the sadness, the loneliness, the angst of “why I have to continue living like this”, the physical pain in their furrowed head and glassy eyes. I became emotional and could not speak for a few moments. In silence, I put my hand on his shoulders, assuring him I was there with him.

As it was morning tea time, I knew that by the time he shuffled to his dining room, he would miss the tea service. I offered to make him a cuppa, and in my minimal Italian, I was able to discern what he preferred. 

At the nearby staff kitchen, I made him a cup of tea with milk and sugar. Because of his Parkinson’s, he could not hold the cup steadily. I assured him that I would hold the cup, and with mine and his trembling hand, he sipped the tea, smiling so delightfully as if it was the best drink he ever had in his lifetime! He finished every drop. His shakings stopped; he sat up more alert and said, “Gracias!” with his distinguished smile. He even joined the other residents, who soon ambled to the chapel and stayed on for the rosary.

It was only a cup of tea. It did not take me much effort, yet it meant the whole world to him – not only to quench a physical thirst but an emotional hunger with someone, perhaps anyone!

There are many poignant moments when we remember our loved ones, their uniqueness, their needs, their habits, their dreams. Although, in faith, we know they are in a better place, it is us, the living, who are in the sad position of having to recover these memories and reflect on the what-ifs…or if only I did this or that for them.

In her post on 12 January 2023, Meg Bucher shared that “in Christ, mercy and truth meet. Christ-centred people see the world through His perspective, and love flows through their lives. When we are merciful to others, it brings joy to their hearts and ours. When we submit to His merciful ways, we choose to acknowledge peace. Apart from Christ, this is impossible.

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What drew me to meet Norman at his need that morning? Surely, it was not my weak and carnal nature. My plan was to set up the chapel in haste, as I was already running late. I had a task to accomplish.

The Gospel of Matthew 20: 30-32 recalls Jesus standing still as He responds to two blind men during a very busy day with the multitude.

Why did I stand still? Jesus enthroned His grace and mercy in my heart so that I could respond to someone’s need. I could not have done it without Jesus in me. At that moment, I realized the profoundness of St Paul’s teaching: “It is no longer I that live, but Christ in me.” 

A writer shares that mercy fuels compassion, providing promising glints of light in a darkened world. Mercy is an extension of and expression of love, ‘an act of kindness, compassion, or favour.’ Mercy is a characteristic of the One True God.

We purchased a coffee van for my daughter, who wants to drive around and minister to people by serving good coffee. She named her van Truth and Love Coffee, and her plates are JESUSC. After a long delay due to its brand-new construction, then a trip overseas and their recent move to another house, we are looking forward to its operation soon and seeing how people would respond. 

Jesus truth and love coffee van
The Truth and Love Coffee van bearing the plate name JESUSC. CREDIT: Dina Delfino

I am sure there will be curious looks when she drives it around and parks it to sell her coffee and give some freebies here and there. Our prayer is that whoever benefits from her coffee can say, “That is one of the best coffees I ever had!” not so much because of the ingredients but because it is made with love and kindness, and that Jesus stood still with them. 

I wonder if when I reach Norman’s age and I long for a cappuccino with almond milk, half strength, extra hot, someone will make one for me with such mercy and grace, too?  

(For comments or feedback, email dinadelfino.tlc@gmail.com)

Dina Mananquil-Delfino
Dina Mananquil-Delfino
Dina was former editor-in-chief of The Philippine Times and has been its columnist for over 20 years. She has written two books, "Colours of Life" and "Under His Wings". Dina has been in the helping field for 40 years in the various roles she has fulfilled – teacher, employee in different organisations, volunteer, pastoral care worker. She is a member of Australian Counsellors of Australia (ACA) and Counsellors Victoria (CV). DINA IS A QUALIFIED COUNSELOR AND PASTORAL CARE WORKER. She can be contacted on 0430 214 917. Email dinadelfino.tlc@gmail.com for comments or feedback on this story).

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