As I write this article, I am a few days away from travelling to the Philippines after 16 years. Honestly, I do not know what emotions to feel- fear, worry, concern, doubt, uncertainty. Then, a small percentage – excitement, joy, and a sense of adventure. My mission is fourfold – attend a Golden Jubilee at my Alma Mater- College of the Holy Spirit, Tarlac, where I will reunite with some wonderful high school classmates, batch 1974, and yes, hopefully, ask for forgiveness and get some closure. When I left in 1984 to go to Australia on a visitor’s visa, my contract as a teacher was still ongoing, and I assured them I would be back to honour my obligation as a scholar of the school. I also plan to meet with one of my childhood best friends who is returning to the Philippines from the USA. Part of the journey is also to say hello to another dear friend in person. Catching up with some remaining family members inspires me to pursue the travel. And in between, visiting seven churches as a pilgrimage prayer, including the Monasterio in Tarlac, would be a blessing!
I wonder how I will cope – going with my hubby, daughter, son-in-law and 14-year-old granddaughter. We all have different tastes, perspectives, and goals. I am not as young as I used to be – agile, fast, alert, in my element. Nowadays, it takes a bit of time to get moving! I am a planner and organiser too – so I have a bad habit of over-thinking, over-packing (what if!), and making sure “everything is under my control.” On my days- off leading to the big trip, I must learn fast to let go and surrender to the Lord, everything – and here I mean everything. Sure, I did all my homework, but in between, when interruptions or oppositions arose in my planning and arranging, I must lift my hand in surrender and let the Lord lead. I had to listen to numerous evangelical and Catholic teachings on the theme of not worrying and trusting the Lord just to get some peace about it. I claim Psalm 91 daily to encourage supernatural faith.
The prayer below also gives me comforting confirmation:
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:19.
God of grace, grant us the strength for new beginnings, a rebirth of spirit and a heart renewed. May our capacity for compassion expand, healing the broken pieces within us and others. Illuminate our paths with possibilities, inspiring generous actions and meaningful work that fulfills our purpose. In moments of challenge and decision, attune our hearts to the whisperings of your Wisdom. Bless our relationships, enriching and nourishing them, fostering connections that withstand the tests of time. Instil in us a deep respect for our environment, guiding us to live in harmony with each other and all of creation. Amen.
May it be your prayer, too- travelling or not. A spiritual writer said that our journey in life can be undertaken as either a tourist or a traveller. To some, there is not much difference. In the context that a tourist travels for pleasure and a traveller is keen to connect with the culture, people, and lifestyle, I prefer to be called a traveller.
In life, there are times when we meet people only for a short time, while some relationships become lasting and life-changing. Both are important in our lessons of learning to let go or to evaluate what is significant.
Lin Yutang wrote, “No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.” I am sure this will be true for me, but for now, I pray for the courage to travel, see what the good Lord has in store, and trust Him every step of the way. May I use this time to reset my heart, too, in deepening my need and love for God, able to reflect His ever-changing calls and respond worthily.
A very blessed New Year to all! May the Peace of God, which transcends all understanding, guard your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7)