Saturday, June 26, 2010

Discovering Daily Grace

“I was with God all day. He was with me when I woke up at 5:30am to greet the sun. He was with me when a generous, disabled man had a wrench and fixed the car’s flat tire, on our way to catch the ferry. He was with us when we missed our 10am ferry, only to find out a 10:45 am special, only for that day. He was with us when we met the priests in Catalina Island, getting there after a mishap. He was with me when I got lost in a postcard shop, and located my companions not much later in a restaurant by the sea, when the cellphones did not work. He was with us when we took a chance to drive with an ailing tire yet, got home safely. God was with me and all four priests, all day and night. ” - Fr. Camilo Pacanza

When I heard this story from Fr. Camilo, I enjoyed it so much, I retold the story over and over. I realized that my faith in God is equally strong. I expect abundance now that my dreams will come true, if I work hard to fulfill my dreams, one step at a time.
But, I did not expect God to make things right: from the flat tire, to the special ferry ride to Catalina Island, down to even the ailing car tire which still managed to bring Fr. Camilo and his companion priests home.

He related it with such gusto -- I still could not imagine how he greeted the sun, how the sun’s rays touched his face and warmed his heart to say Mass and still be able to drive for an in traffic, passing over the St. Tomas Bridge (the same bridge where folks lose their way, as the tale goes).

Yet, Fr. Camilo and Fr. Rodel and two other priests found their way to see Catalina Island, and Fr. Camilo’s dream came true.

How does one acquire such a deep faith -- believing that with God, anything is for the asking? C, a friend, told me that he/she had stopped asking because everything she's asked has been given. She is grateful for each breath and each day. She is a successful woman, and sometimes, gives away portions of business profits, as gifts to the community.

Not J. J is a loving mother of a teenager, who recently lost her fiancé. She works hard at two jobs, her hospital career job and a business she created to share her skills. One Sunday mass, she shared her prayer: to have a God-loving man as her life’s companion. After mass, she drove home. At a stoplight, she glanced to her right, and the driver of another car smiled. She smiled back. Off to another stop. The same driver followed her and smiled a second time. He then rolled down the windows, “ Are you J who went to this church sometime ago? “

She was surprised. How can he know this about her past? “ You were wearing this ribbon-accented dress, ” he said. “He paid attention to my dress? He is that much into me? God, are you answering my prayers, now? That was just minutes ago," she thought. “Indeed! For J and her newly ‘bumped into friend’ are ‘slowly’ dating, building up to a long-term relationship! To her friends, she said, “ Be careful what you pray for, for they will just manifest! “

Yes, “Ask and it will be given!“

I shared my own prayers with J 33 years ago: to find a smart, intelligent, loving, community-oriented spouse. I told J that God gave me that spouse and he is all those things. But, since I did not ask God to give me a man who will not try my patience, and God knows I have no patience, He gave me a spouse who pushes my buttons -- for my patience, anger or frustration to reveal themselves each time.

I have a choice though, whether to let God's grace be revealed in me or not.

Here is what happens. When I choose to be unforgiving, when I choose to react to my husband’s naughtiness, I literally lose all of God’s grace for almost two weeks -- no parking spaces in any buildings I drive to, exchanging pleasantries with cranky folks, appointments cancelled, inability to write, a power struggle with nasty and dishonest folks, pipes breaking -- all in succession.

If I choose patience and love to be, I receive more grace: available parking spaces, errands done smoothly, strangers to connect to and to share stories with, an inspired writing day, a manifestation of blessings and invitations from friends. It feels like a glorious, spring day -- perfect for high tea and scones!

When I chose to give love and compassion, I get more of the same. It takes work to be all that, all the time: to be loving, affectionate and to harvest the goodness in folks, rather than their weak points.

But, in turn, God’s sacred space is what I consciously operate from -- away from an unconscious, reactive, difficult life which creates tensions and frustrations. My husband jokingly says that God has a sense of humor, that he was given to me for God’s purpose -- to create more patience in me! We laugh, hug and simply just be!

It is time to let God in -- like a fresh wind, or a ray of sunshine, warm on one’s cheeks, or a Good Samaritan who changes Fr. Rodel’s car tire, or when a human GPS points the way for others. Yes, we are all connectors, but we must choose His love to manifest in our daily actions.

Ask and it will be given! Thank you, Fr. Camilo and Fr. Rodel, and May God bless Immaculate Heart of Mary Church with more blessings, and with renovated structures, to last seven generations, in time for its Jubilee!


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