Saturday, July 07, 2007

Living and Let Die

There's a Hindu belief that formulated the course of a human life into 4 distinct stages. I am not well versed on the Hindu teachings but this I find to be noteworthy. Something to ponder upon.

1st stage - Childhood and Youth
2nd stage- Householder, child-bearing, building a family
3rd stage - Retirement to a forest hut, live simply and talk philosophy
4th stage - Renunciation of wealth and prepare for death.

I want to talk about each stage as it applies to me. As a child and into my youth, unlike some who remembers every detail of their childhood, I only remember bits and pieces. What I remember must hold deep meanings. It was a childhood of labor, most of it was spent in school or in the farm working or peddling produce from the farm. I did very well in school, always finished as valedictorian of the class until my last 2 years of elementary school. I got sick with typhoid fever which kept me out for almost 2 months, and when I got back in school, I was very weak. And even though I did not really try hard for the honor, I graduated with 2nd honor to the valedictorian. I did not like school, I only enjoyed the time when we did the gardening or when my boy friends play any game that we can throw a bet on.

I eloped and married at 17, had a baby at 19 and found myself -a child raising a child. It was a season of confusion, bewilderment and personal shake up but it was also the beginning of a life truly lived. My daughter was born and even though, I was overwhelmed with the new role I had to play, she served as my guide stick - like how blind people use it to feel the path before them. Chat and I, even though we lived with our extended family, it was unspoken but understood, the family we will build is just her and me. Her father chose not to build with us.

Four days ago, I turned 50. To some it is middle age, to others it is a number they don't want to talk about. I have been waiting for this number to come and it is here and I love it. If God chose to give me this long life, I must be special, therefore I am grateful. The number does not define me, I define the number. I don't feel it is the retirement year as to "not working" kind of retirement. But I feel it is time to retreat to a forest hut. Of course anyone who lives in a hut has to live simply and be philosophical.

The other day, I laid out all my jewelries that I have accumulated through the years, trying to find a way to store them. These are not cheap ones, I thought, and at one point they were what defined me. About 6 years ago, I started to feel the burden of this material things in my life. I started to feel not only the heaviness of the metals on my body, I also started to see the worlds' goods growing strangely dim. And what a liberating feeling! I then slowly understood that in order to prepare for death, I have to master the art of living. Slowly, I have learned to shed off the things that so entangles me, but daily I am reminded that it is not easy. Daily, I push myself ( I say push, because again, it is not easy) to focus on the real wealth that I have inherited, this is not to be renounced but to be preserved, protected, cherished and be grateful for. What I have in Christ transcends everything the world has offered and continues to offer.
Thomas Kempis, a 14th century Christian monk prayed that he wouldn't die of sudden death, but rather be given the knowledge that he was dying so he can prepare to let go of the body and return to the Divine his spirit.
My prayer is simple but is born out of fear; I pray for my mind to be blocked so I don't hear the murmuring and complains of my caregivers on my last days on earth, but I also want a lucid mind so I can see the curtain part open before I cross over and feel Jesus leading me to the father. But before I cross over I need to live. And live abundantly.