The Stars at Night

As I gazed upon one year old twins, I think about my own youth.  Once, I was the baby on the crib, nurtured by parents who provided for my needs, sheltered me from the elements, protected me from harm.  As I grew older, they grew older and so it is with every person, of every generation.  We are like the sun, first rising slowly, lighting a path on a dark planet.  Slowly but surely it rises higher and higher, and soon enough it reaches its zenith.  Then slowly it starts to sink towards the horizon and when the last light of twilight is extinguished, the world turns dark again.

And yet, I could not escape the thought the sun is but one star in the firmament.  Each of us, as we grow older, as we climb higher in the horizon, begins to blot out other things in the sky.  And yet, elsewhere in the heavens, other stars continue to shine.  And I am heartened to think that each one of us, each of our ancestors, is a star.  Even as our lives shine bright and we become the center of our universe and seemingly outshine other lights around us, the stars are always there.  And so it is that I remember my father and mother, now gone.  And grandparents.  And uncles and aunts, and the many people who came before me, who came before them.  In the evening, before I sleep, I look at the window and see the stars that are always there.  They are never truly gone.  And if we listen carefully, we can still hear the voices within them.  They can still teach us.  If we let them.  In our dreams we are in some ways always children, always protected, always loved.  Awake, we know that life and love are eternal, shining forever, in the heavens around us.

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#youwillbefound

For people who love musicals, the hashtag above will be familiar.  It is so fitting that at the moment of great loss, I found meaning in music.  My first distinct memory of my mother was watching “The Sound of Music” so many years ago.  When I posted the last entry on this blog, I was on my way to Manila to bring my mother back home from her vacation.  Her cancer came back, and unlike the saying, the third time was not the charm.

It’s hard to imagine what happens when the music that has ruled your life suddenly disappears.  It is an empty feeling when your world is devoid of the person who raised you, who understood you, who cared for you.  The person who knew you first, the person who felt my heart beat for the first time.  The person who taught me that honesty and truth were the important ideals in life.  That love, among all the things that we can give to another, is the greatest gift of all.   It is so easy to think that all that we have will always be with us.  And truth be told, if we lose a lot of the things that we have, we will not be missing anything at all.

That is almost true.  The thing is, we are nothing without the people who care for us.  And the people that we care for.  Why is it that a child with almost nothing at all, in the warm embrace of her mother or father has a smile so broad that in that instant, the world lights up as if a meteor is streaking through the sky.  The warmth that love brings is the one thing that truly makes our lives complete.  We can look to the skies for inspiration.  With love in our lives, we need only look at our hearts to find that a simple look, a simple smile, a single touch is enough to lift our souls to the heavens.

And so it was in May that the person who saw me as I am finally joined the husband that she lost more than a decade ago.  In that moment, her spirit joined the spirit of my father and together, I imagine that they look down upon me and in their corporal form, the same love that bore their son fill the heavens, magnified by the love of the countless multitudes who came before them.  Love free of the boundaries of time and space.

I say to myself that as long as I remember, as long as I feel, they are never truly gone.  The truth is,  life for those who lose someone truly dear will never be the same.  Life is altered forever.  And yet, it does not have to be a life without meaning.  Different yes.  Meaningless?  No.

And so it was that I happened upon the music that keeps playing in my head.  It is in an endless loop.  Not that it mutes everything else in life.  Rather, the music gives one the clarity to understand that as long as we live, there is always a place for us to find love.  We need not wait for someone to embrace us.  The gift of love is best manifested when we share it with another.  And so, in the loneliness and emptiness that death can bring, it is the act of giving one’s self to another that allows us to find life anew.

Accept people as they are.  Find the good in all and in so doing we find the good in ourselves.  “I never dreamed that I would find someone like you who would want me.”  For many of us, we have already lived the dream.  Loving parents that nurtured us, cared for us.  We have been found, in the very first moments of our existence.

And now, it is up to us to find the meaning of the hashtag “youwillbefound.”  It’s not about being alone.  It is about realizing that we are never really alone.  There will always be someone who will love us.  We are, after all, created out of love.  We are all children of love that is infinite.

And so, thank you Evan Hansen.  In the depths of sorrow, the wonderful music, the incredible story, the beautiful words reminded me that there is so much to live for.  No one is truly alone.  #youwillbefound.

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A note about Dear Evan Hansen.  This is the best musical I have seen in years.  Dare I say that it might be my favorite musical written in the last thirty five years.  Yes, this includes Les Miserables, Phantom, Hamilton, Rent, etc.  A lot of great music to be sure, but there is something about the vulnerabilities that the characters in this show exhibit that we as human beings can understand.   And relate to.  We all have fears, moments of doubt.  Sometimes, no, often times, we need to let others into our lives.  To heal us.  To love us.

On the Saturday matinee, Michael Lee Brown played the part of Evan Hansen.  A fantastic Evan!  And Mallory Bechtel as Zoe was adorable and wonderful.  This is the show to watch in New York.  And now that it is about to embark on its first American tour, I hope that you are able to watch this wonderful musical.  Pasek and Paul are the new dynamic duo in the musical universe.  The play by Steven Levenson is exceptional.  Two and a half hours of laughter, sorrow, empathy, and hope.  Yes, hope.  The core of this show is hope.  Forgiveness.  And love.

You are not alone.  You will be found.

A Message for Easter

The Christian world celebrates the greatest miracle of all – the resurrection of the Son of God, who conquered death and in so doing made life eternal possible for all of us.  When Adam and Eve fell from grace, it was because they disobeyed the Father, the Creator of all things.  God gave them the world He created and yet to them it was not enough.  Pride and avarice lead to their downfall.  They wanted the truth, or so they thought.  What they wanted, in reality, was a world in their image, a world that believed in the things that they believed in, a world that bowed to their whims and wishes.

The Son of Man came to this world as an instrument of peace.  Of humility.  Of love.  The Father so loved His creation that He sent His Son to live among us.  To teach us that humility, peace, obedience and love can be and must be part of our lives.  He did not come to this world to condemn us.  He came to this world to bring His Father’s creation back to the Father.  He died so that we may live.

Today, how many of us judge each other by the wealth that we have accumulated.  How many of us look at the schools that we attend, at the clothes that we wear, at the cars that we drive, and decide that these superficial accomplishments are the touchstones that determine our worth.  How many of us Christians look upon the poor with disdain, that somehow, they are not worthy of our attention.  Or of our love.  How many of us look at our non Christian brothers and sisters and fail to see that they too are created in the image of our Father, the Creator who made us all.  Muslim, Jew, Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist, Christian.  All of us, all of us, are the children of the One God who made the universe.  A God who loved the world so much that He sacrificed His own son surely loves each and every one of us.  No matter the faith, no matter the inclination, we are all children of the universal Creator.

This Easter, let us remember that all of us strive for the same things in our lives.  To try to live a life of goodness.  To provide for our families and those that we love.  To share with each other the gifts that our Creator gave us.  To serve each other, to understand each other.  If the Son of God came not to condemn but to love, then we must try and do the same.  In the eyes of God, we are all His children.

If we truly believe in the Resurrection, then we must believe that Jesus gave His life for all of us.  He did not see the difference between a Jew or a Samaritan. In His eyes, we are all Children of God and deserving of His love.  And the love of the Father.  Muslim, Jew, Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist, Christian.  We are all created in image of the Father.  We, the men and women of this world, are all God’s children.  And we are all the beneficiaries of the Son’s obedience to the Father.

On this day, I pray with a dear friend – that we see ourselves in others, realize that we all want the same things in life – health, prosperity and happiness.  And love.  That it is in sharing these gifts from the Creator that we prove ourselves worthy of our heritage – a life eternal with the Son of Man, the Son of God, and the Father who made us all.

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The Wonder of Creation

When you find someone that makes life worthwhile
You remember that God created all of us for a purpose
And in the wonder of creation, He made sure
That each person can find Him
In the eyes, in the smile, in the heart
Of those that they hold most dear

We who are Created in His Image
Celebrate the true meaning of Creation
It is not to glorify one’s self
Nor is it to seek attention to one’s self
But to give one’s self in service of the other
Selflessness, you see
Is the revelation of the Truth
That above all else in the Universe
It is love, shared, that makes us whole

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The Transcendent Value of Every Person

My friend, Father Mark Pilon, passed away a few days ago. He was stern, he was conservative, but most importantly, he was a kind and gentle man. An inspirational person that will be missed. Here is one of the final entries in his blog.

Littlemore Tracts

5th Sunday of Ordinary Time

I have made myself a slave to all so as to win over as many as possible.
To the weak I became weak, to win over the weak. I have become all things to all, to save at least some.  I Cor. 9:16

          What is the true value of one soul, of human person? We can easily discover what the value of most material things is, but how do we come to understand the true or objective value of a creature like man , who is both matter and spirit, a union of a body and spiritual soul? When it comes to the value of purely  material things, it is the negotiation between seller and buyer that  basically determines the value. Whether it’s the value of a house, or a car, or a lamp or any other material thing, there is some kind…

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A Christmas Message

For many, today is a special day.  A day to be with family.  To share stories.  To laugh, to eat, to be merry.  And that is all good.  To those who follow Christ, this is the day when God fulfilled his promise and gave us His Son.  Announced by angels, the child of God came not to condemn.  Or to belittle.  Or to oppress.  Or to destroy.  The Son of God was born from the womb of a woman, the new Eve, who willingly obeyed the Father who created us all.   Mary’s faith and obedience allowed God to became truly one with us.  To know the love of a human mother, singularly blessed.  To be raised by an adoptive father, if you will, who taught his son what it means to work hard, to be dutiful, to be faithful.  It was a life not rich in material things, but it was a life rich in spirit, in faith, in humility, in love.

Today, we yearn for great things.  For ourselves.  For our country.  We often think that we alone have the answers.  That our way is the only way, our needs the only things that matter.  We must have the loudest voice, the biggest house, the biggest bank account.  We have an incessant need to glorify ourselves, often at the expense of others.

Two thousand years ago, that was not the message that the Creator gave to His creation.  God did not boast.  He did not bully.  He did not seek attention.  He did not punish.  No, through His Son Jesus Christ, He showed the world that we are all one with God.  We are all children of God.  Jew and gentile alike.  Christ did not carry arms nor did he extol others to oppress or to punish.  He lived a life of humility, of obedience, of subservience.  Our Creator became our brother.  He taught us that we are no longer alone.  That no one is alone.  He taught us to give ourselves to each other.  To respect each other.  To treat each other with dignity, as we are all brothers and sisters in the sight of the Almighty.  He taught us that it is through the giving of one’s self that we are made whole.

Let the gift of God, and the sacrifice of the Son, live in your hearts forever.  When you see someone in the corner needing help, look not in derision.  Share what you have.  Use the talents that were given  to you.  Not to accumulate wealth.  Nor intimidate the weak.

Each of us is unique, with gifts uniquely are own.  To be used, in our own way, to serve all of God’s creation.  Be a friend.  God knows no borders.  God sees color everywhere and rejoices in diversity.  With love, everything is possible.  Even people who do not share our faith are our brothers and sisters.  Treat them as you would have God treat you.  With respect.  With kindness.  With understanding.  If you believe that God created all of us with a purpose, then how can you look at someone with a disability, or someone with a different pigmentation, or someone with a different set preferences with disdain?  Each of us can teach the other.  Each of use can learn from one another.

Jesus came to cleanse us of our sins.  An act of forgiveness.  An act of sacrifice.  A gift, from our Creator, showing us the way to a life of happiness and peace.  Share what you have.  Forgive others and ask to be forgiven.  For in forgiveness, love will come.

Let a flower bloom in your heart.  Be the seed that grows into a tree that gives comfort to all.  Let God’s love, ever present, live within you.   And so I end with prayers, from different points of view.

For those who do not believe in the Almighty, live long and prosper.  Remember to share in your prosperity.

May the God of Abraham, the God of Moses, creator of the Universe, bless you.  May your life be fruitful.

May Allah grant you and your family good health and prosperity.

May Jesus, our savior, Son of God, instill upon your heart the beauty and wonder of God’s love.  Share with others what you have and in so doing, share eternity with all of God’s creation.  Let there be peace.  Let there be joy.  Let there be love.