POSTSCRIPT / November 2, 2008 / Sunday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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All Saints' Day: Spend time with your parents

LOVING THE LIVING: The gathering of family members and relatives at the cemeteries and memorial parks yesterday was not only an occasion for remembering the dearly Departed.

It was, or should be, more of an opportunity to take stock and recast our distorted view of the Living.

You were lucky if you still had your parents and most of your siblings gathered yesterday at the family plot as Christendom observed All Saints’ (actually All Souls’) Day.

If you watched them closely, unobtrusively, you would have noticed that your parents have aged. Even if they have ripened graciously over the years, they are no longer as strong and sprite as they used to be.

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THEY HAVE AGED: There are parents who use wheelchairs or move around with canes. But even if they can still walk unaided, you might notice their stoop and their being painfully slow. At times, you would catch them pausing to straighten up or catch their breath.

Their faces are lined and their skin grown loose and craggy. There are strands of grey in what used to be rich black crop of hair. Their eyesight has dimmed.

How different it was decades ago, when we were just kids, when father was solid and strong, and quick to laugh and banter. Now just the knees have a problem holding up.

Obviously, his toiling over the years to provide for us and ensure a better future for us has borne fruit, but it has also taken its physical toll on him.

Mother, also measured in movement, still solicitously looks after our every need the best way she can. She will not eat anything without first offering it to us or without seeing all of us already served our share at the table.

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LOVING HANDS: Mother’s hands are gnarled and scarred. These were the same hands, then soft and smooth, that nursed us when we were hurt or bedridden. Through the night, it was mother who changed the cold towel on our forehead to ease the fever.

Her arms, now misshapen with loose and rough skin, cuddled us when we cried and sought solace from problems. The same loving arms embraced us when we complained of pain and frustration, or simply wanted the warmth of her bosom.

It pained her, but mother scolded us when we broke the rules. Now we realize in hindsight that she just wanted us to develop into fine sons and daughters by offering us wise counsel and timely admonitions.

Many times in our teens, remember, we misunderstood mother’s “meddling” into our personal lives — same thing with father who seemed to have been more strict than we thought was reasonable.

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TWICE BLESSED: Now we grownups know better — our parents only had our best interest at heart. They were simply passing on to us the benefit of their experience, doing their duty to guide us through a world filled with pitfalls.

As carefree kids, we never knew how our parents grappled with material and financial problems.

They shielded us from the anxieties of living in a world where our needs never stop growing. They apparently did not want to mar the enjoyment of our youth by nagging us about what they had to go through just to provide for us.

Those of you whose parents are still alive are twice blessed. How lucky you are that they are still with you — maybe old, weaker and a bit forgetful, but still staunchly by your side to care for and comfort you.

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FROM THE INTERNET: “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8 [NIV]).

That’s because thinking makes it so.

A native American boy was talking with his grandfather. “What do you think about the world situation?” he asked. The grandfather replied, “I feel like two wolves are fighting in my heart. One is full of anger and hatred. The other is full of love, forgiveness and peace.”

“Which one will win?” the boy asked. The grandfather replied, “The one I feed.”

Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, “Men are not prisoners of fate, but only prisoners of their own minds.” James Allen rightly stated, “You are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you.”

Another has said, “What the mind dwells on, the body acts on.”

If you don’t believe this, think how temptation works. First a thought seems to come from nowhere… we feed it and the thought begins to expand… then one’s feelings get involved… and the more we think about it, the more we hunger for it… then we begin to rationalize and justify what we want to do — and the battle is lost.

It all starts in the mind.

As they say about computers: GIGO = garbage in, garbage out. So it is with the mind. If we keep looking at and thinking about garbage, we will act out accordingly.

But if, as the Bible says, we concentrate on thoughts that are noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable, we too, will act accordingly. It’s all in the mind, for what the mind dwells on the body acts on.

When tempting thoughts knock on the door of your mind, try to pray a very simple prayer, “Jesus, help. Jesus, help,” until the “door knocker” goes away.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of November 2, 2008)

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