#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.

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Ephemeral Beauty

I look up a pink hued sky
And my heart beats in rhythm
With nature’s beauty, enveloping me
With warmth in the still cold April day
I gaze upward, and in the midst of the cherry canopy
I see a flower, standing still, yet moving me
My soul trembles with joy
And for a moment, an instant
The spirit of love overwhelms me
And my heart, changed, is finally free
Embraced by an ephemeral beauty
That lasts an eternity

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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Awakening

Why is the familiar different now
The river by the bend
The trees, the rocks, the birds, the sky
A thousand steps walked alone
In solitude, nature was my friend

And yet today, even as the bird sang its welcoming song
As the winds of winter give way to the blossoms of spring
As the water lapped gently on the rock strewn shore
I heard my heart speak

In winter’s depth a flower bloomed
Joy came forth, the soul consumed
A life, thought dead, was vital still

And so it was this winter day
That the steps familiar had a different strain
There is beauty everywhere
And time enough for us to share

Alive

When the sun closes it’s eyes
And the moon gazes on a world
Bathed in the warmth of the fading day
It casts its gentle glow
And the world finally sleeps
And a million dreams fill the sky
With little points of starlight

Hearts beat in unison
Pulsing with the joys of the day
And with the hope for even better tomorrows
In this quietest of moments
When all is calm
When the mind lifts the veil of uncertainty
Love, at last, can smile

The Beauty Inside

Years ago, while vacationing in Cabo, I decided to drive to La Paz, Mexico.  I didn’t have a GPS and I was adventurous enough to attempt to go across Baja California with a rudimentary map that I printed from the internet.  I wanted to see the clear waters of Balandra Beach.  So off I went, on my small rental car, driving between fast moving, close passing cars and trucks that seemingly were only a second or so away from colliding with me.  When everything seems like a close call, you just learn to go with the flow.  A few hours later, I was in La Paz.

After a quick lunch and a visit to the beach, it was time to go back to Cabo.  There was only one problem.  I only mapped out the path going eastward.  I had no idea how to get back to Cabo.  I was driving around in circles.  Every once in a while, I’d ask somebody for directions on how to get back to the highway that would take me back west.  There were so many helpful people, but it was readily apparent that my inability to speak or understand Spanish was a major liability.  People tried to help me by drawing pictures of the roads that I needed to drive to.  That only lead me to different circular paths.  Flustered, I stopped by a gas station to try to get directions.

Once again, I didn’t have much luck getting directions to Cabo.  I was panicked.  And then, something miraculous happened.  There was a beat up car parked in the gas station.  A man came up to me and told me that he can show me the way back to Cabo.  Follow him, he said.  He will take me to the highway to Cabo.  I did as he said.  I started my car and followed him as he drove through streets that were unfamiliar to me.  We reached a highway and he pointed to a certain direction, a sign telling me that I have finally found the road home.  I waved at him to thank him.  He smiled and in what seemed like an instant, he was gone.

I sped through the highway, heading westward.  A few hours later, I was back at Cabo.  Relieved.  Thankful.

The thing is, there are many beautiful things to see and experience in Cabo and La Paz.  Great food, great beaches.  And yet.  The thing that I remember the most is the kindness of a total stranger.  I was lost; somehow, this stranger found me, and set me back to the right path.  I could think of a lot of religious allegories, but I really want to say something about how many of us, including me, lead our lives.

All of us, in a multitude of ways, are attracted to beautiful things.  A beautiful person, a beautiful car, a beautiful whatever.  How many times do we ignore the things that seem common, the things we deem unexceptional.  We look up and see the bright lights.  And we gravitate towards the brightest of these lights.  We forget (truthfully, we neglect)  the other lights in the world.  Why is it that we choose to ignore so many things that can bring us so much happiness, so much joy?   I can’t even fathom how much I have missed in life by not paying attention to the things that really should matter the most.

We can spend endless amounts of money trying to stay young, to become more presentable, in the hopes of being likable enough for people to pay attention to us.  We surround ourselves with things to make us look comfortable, as if the look of success is somehow enough to impress everyone that we seek.  Somehow, we have allowed the constant bombardment of messages extolling wealth and beauty to distract us, to make us  forget what is really important in our lives.

I am so glad that I got lost in La Paz.  This unfortunate happenstance lead to one of most life affirming lessons that I have experienced.  In the midst of nowhere, a man in a rusty old car extended the hand of friendship to someone he didn’t know.  He didn’t ask for any compensation.  It was enough for him to give help when help was needed.  He didn’t ask me who I was.  He didn’t care that I didn’t speak his language.  He just helped.

I need to remind myself of this lesson every day.  Beauty comes from the heart.  Love freely given, without any expectation of getting anything in return, is the most beautiful thing of all.  Remember to be kind.  Remember to listen.  Be of service to others.  Expect nothing and in so doing, gain everything.