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Writing on Air by Jim Paredes

Archive for December 23rd, 2018

Don’t look for Christmas. It is right here 0

Posted on December 23, 2018 by jimparedes

HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE – Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) – December 23, 2018 – 12:00am
It is almost Christmas Eve as you read this. There is a rush everywhere. Shoppers are desperate to finish buying the things on their lists. Lines are long, especially in shopping malls, ATMs, trains, buses and jeeps. Traffic exceeds all expectations. People are caught rushing home to be with their families in the city or in the provinces. Or maybe even abroad.

People are attending the last Simbanggabi tonight before Christmas Eve Mass tomorrow. Noche Buena everywhere is being planned meticulously. Some of the food is already being prepared. Some gifts are still being wrapped while some are ready to be opened. Everyone is excited to make sure Christmas Eve will go perfectly for them and their loved ones. We all want it to be the most wonderful night of the year.

Everywhere there is this universal wish for good tidings, merriment, peace, hope and love.

Sadly, these wonderful Christmas wishes are made against the backdrop of a bleak, tragic world that is in ruins, as we speak. Amidst the racism, misogyny, hate, angry political divisions, fake news, threats of war, terrorism and famine plaguing many places in the world, people can only sigh and sincerely hope for peace on earth. I know this. I am one of those people.

Is it madness that makes us wish against all odds that the world will somehow be better? The cynical will cheer loudly in agreement. How can the world be better when there are more bad people than good in this world, they like to say. When will the Pollyannas of the world wake up to the truth? The world is an evil, dangerous place. Wasn’t realizing that there was no real Santa one of the painful lessons we learned early in life? Life is about getting butt-kicked out of Eden and realizing how horrible it can be.

It is so easy to be persuaded by the mob and lose all hope in everything. And there seem to be endless arguments that the naysayers can present to prove they are right.

Yet, despite all the setbacks, a big portion of humanity stubbornly rejects them and continues to believe that things can get better. Why? It has always been like this as far back as I can remember. Yes, there is something crazy about it. Strangely enough, the world likes to pin its hopes on something as fragile and unsure as a baby boy of humble origins to make things better for everyone every Christmas season.

Is it madness? If I were asked this question in my youth, I would easily come to that conclusion.

But as an older man, a lot of my opinions have changed through the years. I have seen many things that have happened that no one could have predicted. Many things I used to think were crazy have begun to make sense.

I remember how my mother loved praying the rosary. During the 1950s until the ’80s, it was common for people of her generation to pray for the fall of communism and the conversion of the USSR, among other intentions. For many decades, I dismissed her prayers as naive and unrealistic until, to my great shock, the USSR did collapse in the ’80s! I asked myself how that could have happened. Was it mere coincidence? How could the prayers of old women cause a world upheaval? I am not sure. But after the fall of communism, I was much more open to the force and power of prayers. There must be silent but powerful forces in the world that keep it from falling completely apart.

In this world where almost everyone seems weary and weak in spirit, people are frantically searching for any “thrill of hope,” waiting to rejoice a “new and glorious morn.” Maybe this is a time when everyone should be looking for the ray of hope not in the usual settings. Perhaps we should try looking at places we mostly always ignore. We can search for that hope right here within our midst. We need not look far or wide. Truth is, it has always been around us but we never noticed it. That’s because we were always searching for something dramatic or different.

I often think that God amuses himself by challenging us to find Him in the ordinary, in the boring and sometimes even in the annoying. He likes us to see Him in everyone we meet. After all, if there is God, “the Father, Son and Holy Ghost,” there must be God the security guard, the tricycle driver, the beggar in the street, the neighbor, etc.

God can be found not in churches and temples alone. God also lives outside the designated holy places we visit. He can be found everywhere. And because he can be found anywhere, God is telling us that every place is sacred and holy like a church, and that every person reflects the face of God.

The message here is that life is always rich and blessed. And hoping for a better world unleashes the good in all of us.

When we awaken to this, the “crazy” becomes the norm. We defy the cynics. Every moment becomes Christmas. And Jesus is every person. Then we can happily shout, “Peace on earth and goodwill to all men!”

Read more at https://www.philstar.com/lifestyle/sunday-life/2018/12/23/1879122/dont-look-christmas-it-right-here#47Sw6LcXCqBfjpfY.99

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