"I am large. I contain multitudes." - Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

Thursday, December 31, 2009

One Wild and Precious Life

"Feast on your life." ~ Derek Walcott

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver

This is the first real entry I'm writing from our home in Manila. And my last blog post for 2009.

As with many other people, I look back at the past year and look forward to a new one. As with others, I pause and reflect on what 2009 was in my life, how it affected me and changed and molded me. How it gripped me and shook me and shaped me. How it awakened me and moved me and blessed me.

Which is why there are two quotes in this entry. The first one I love for its brevity. I yanked it out of a poem entitled Love After Love. It is the last line of the poem and the one that resonated the most with me. And that was in part what 2009 was for me. A year of feasting.

Whenever I am asked about how I consider 2009, my answer has always been the same: It was a good, rich and deep year.

It started out innocently enough. A small intention to live less of a hermit life, which slowly but amazingly evolved into meeting a record number of new friends, more so than any other year I can recall. That in itself, is stupendous to me. A sign of God's infinite care and astounding love for my heart. Aslan sent me angels this year, more than I can count and more than my heart can hold. And in God's extravagance, He not only sent me a record number of friends, but some of them have become more than just fair weather companions. With some, trust has grown. As for friends who have been in my life for years, their friendship only deepens with time, regardless of our distance. I am near tears as I write this because, when I think about my friends, my heart is truly full.

This past year also taught me that it doesn't mean that when your heart is full, it is devoid of longing. If anything, I have felt more alive in 2009 than previous years, but that does not mean I was spared from tears. My heart broke a few times too this past year. But not in a way you would think or expect. More in ways where God gives you opportunities to put Him first. Sometimes, your exterior life doesn't reflect your interior life at all. As I look back, I am grateful even for that. For every heartbreak of the past year, and God knows, there were deep, dark nights for me. In retrospect, maybe He was teaching me again to choose Him, always Him first. And my heart broke again when I realized that. Because He wants all of me and all I have to offer. And I go to Him, now as in many countless times this past year, telling Him in a whisper: "Here I am. For where am I to go? There is no way, and no one but You."

It was, undeniably, a tough year. It was the first year I didn't get an increment and possibly the first year I won't be getting a bonus (I still don't know if I'm getting one as of this writing). There is also my aging parents, who are on the whole, in relative good health and for which I send thanksgiving to the highest heavens. They are both feeling the years though and more thoughtful about things. About their relationship with each other and with the rest of the family. There is a distinct poignancy that makes me catch my breath. When they speak this way, I am made aware of the time we have together and acutely feel grateful for each moment with them. It is all grace. All grace.

One of the most trying aspects of the year were the flooding and typhoons that ravaged the Philippines in October and the Ampatuan massacre last November 23. How do I begin to describe the anguish of these two events? There are no words. I am forever changed by both. The first brought hope amidst the devastation and the second, a glaring reminder that all is not right in the world. I struggle still to come to grips with these, even as I do what I can to help the disenfranchised. I know that in the whole scheme of things, what I do may not seem like much, but I continue to believe that each little act matters and there is no other way I choose to define and live my life. My wild and precious life.

Which takes me to the next quote from Mary Oliver. Now what better way to ponder on the coming year but with a question: What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? What indeed!

I intend to live where hope lives. I so desire for hope to reside in my heart. It's not as if I don't have any hope in my heart for others. I have that in abundance. It is hope for myself that I long for. This is not easy for me to admit, that I struggle with hope for myself. But I'm calling it out now, even before 2010 starts, because what is life without that kind of hope? How can I even make a dent of a difference in my wild and precious life, without that kind of hope?

I will continue to keep my heart open and my hands empty. I know now, more than ever how tiring it is sometimes to live with my heart on my sleeve while I try to keep my wits about me. But 2009 taught me that it is always worth the effort and yes, even the pain. I also choose to keep my hands empty because when I do, I find I am never in want. That goodness passes my hands and fills my soul with the kind of joy that gives my life meaning.

I have learned painfully this 2009 that I am not good with money within my reach, at my disposal. Sadly and with regret, I failed to meet my financial goals this year. But I'm letting this go. And having learned the lesson, this 2010 I resolve to send the money earmarked for the yearly mortgage anniversary where I can't touch it. And to really make a substantial dent on it by October 2010.

As always, I resolve to live in awareness of how grace-drenched my life truly is. And to be thankful for normal days. To recognize what I have and how God made me and not miss the blessings. Not to have that view overshadowed by those aspects of my life that may seem lacking or wanting or incomplete.

God bless you and keep you in 2010, dear friends. And may you not waste the wild and precious life God has given you.

(Photo credit: Maciej Dakowicz)


benjiedlp said...

I will cheer, always, from the sidelines - watching you in this amazing, amazing journey of yours.

"A lifetime's not too long to live as friends."

I love you dearest, dearest friend.


Mayang said...

Love you Zippy. Thanks for always being there. Means the world to me.