Stopover

For the past three years, I have been taking the same airline and same flight between London and Manila.  I became too familiar and comfortable with everything, from booking to check-in to landing – that I kind of pride myself as a seasoned traveler. But with my recent trip, I took a different airline – not on purpose but only because that was the most reasonable flight to take, both in terms of price and schedule.

When I confirmed the booking, I knew that it has one stop-over.  My flight will be from London-Brunei then Brunei-Manila. I was already at the airport, I looked at the departure board and I saw my flight number and it says Brunei via Dubai. Hmmm… did I miss something? Did I book the correct flight? During check-in, I asked the lady if my flight is stopping over in Dubai. She confirmed that it is stopping over for refueling.  I wanted more details. I want to know how long is the flight from London to Dubai, I want to know how many meals they will serve, I want to know what happens when we land in Dubai, I want to know more information so I can plan when to sleep, when to watch in-flight entertainment, when to go for a wee, I wanted to be in control of things that will happen. But, I know that the lady had to deal with more passengers than to deal with my petty concerns. I wasn’t too happy about the idea of having a Dubai stopover just for refueling.  I had to refresh my geography and trace the route from London to Dubai to Brunei to Manila. I wanted to know and justify the need for stopovers.

During these two stopovers (Dubai and Brunei), while filling the void of solitude and silence, there was an internal stirring that took place within me. I remember a conversation I had with a friend just few days before my flight.  She reminded me that life will sometimes bring us to unexpected stopovers. These stopovers are there not for us to panic about uncertainties nor to lose our ground because of unfamiliarity. These stopovers are invitations for us to renew our hope and trust. A ‘refueling’ – now that I understand better.

Sabi pa ng kaibigan ko, “kung ano man ang nangyayari ngayon, dadaanan mo lang yan, hindi ka mananatili diyan, may magandang mangyayari” – do not drown yourself with too much worry and anxiety. It is during life’s stopovers that we need to hope and trust more – after all, that is what faith is all about. It is when things are beyond our control and only when we truly accept it that we can truly say that we know how to truly hope and truly trust.

Letter

I do not remember when was the last time I have written a letter for you.  We do talk everyday but sometimes the words do not really translate what is deep within. Sometimes, the fears and doubts are the most difficult to hide and yet twice as difficult to articulate.

There is no single word that can best describe how things between us have changed all through these years.  There were moments of intense encounters but there were also period of silence and distance. There were days when I would pause and say, ‘Do I still know you?’ and mostly, searching the answer would lead me to the fact that you have remained constant and I was the one who’s constantly changing.

I would always say that I love you but I am not sure if I have shown you and I have given more than what I think I am capable of giving to express how much I truly love you. I have never admitted it, but yes, I’m sure you’ve felt that there are moments when other things come first before you and yet, you remain faithful and steadfast.

How many times did I try to plunge into the sea of life-changing decisions and you have remained by my side, not only did you say, ‘Be not afraid.’ and did not simply carry the load for me, the footprints in the sand always explain why I am called your beloved.

I wish I can write you more. I wish I can talk about you more. I wish I can give you more. But more importantly, I wish I can be more faithful to you. Your love is not something that I have earned, Your love is a gift.

Til my next letter…

Tiramisu

Today, I had tiramisu.

Immediately after attending mass at Westminster Cathedral, the moment I stepped out of the church, I suddenly wanted to eat tiramisu. I asked my friend, who also attended mass, if she can come with me to a small Italian café at Covent Garden, probably a mile away from the cathedral. She suggested that maybe I can just buy one from the grocery or from any bakeshops around. I refused, and said, ‘No, I wanted to get it from that Italian café, it’s the most authentic tiramisu that I know of.’ Out of her kind heart, she obliged.

We took the bus and found our way to the Italian café. Unfortunately, there’s no tiramisu. There were other authentic Italian desserts and the guy enthusiastically offered and explained each of the desserts, but I simply replied, almost with a tone of a child nearing to throw a tantrum, ‘No, I want tiramisu!’.

We left the café and asked my friend if it’s OK if we can look around, find some Italian restaurants and check if they have tiramisu. She exclaimed, ‘You’re like having a gestational craving (loosely translated for paglilihi).’ I can feel that her patience is getting thinner so I agreed to just leave it and just forget about tiramisu. On our way to the bus station, I saw a gelato place. I enthusiastically said, ‘Look! That’s good enough. I’ll have tiramisu some other time but at least let us have a gelato.’. We went inside the store and I was almost ready to order for a coffee flavoured gelato when, lo and behold, I saw a tiramisu gelato! OMG!

I asked her if we can eat inside the place as I want to take time in savouring my ‘tiramisu moment’. She looked at me, wondering, and gently asked, ‘Why tiramisu? Why today?’.

I actually do not know why but seconds after, I found myself telling her…

I remember when I was in Assisi, I was eating tiramisu and a priest-friend said, ‘Do you know what is the meaning of tiramisu? It means ‘pick me up’ or ‘lift me up’.’ Maybe that’s why. I want to eat tiramisu because that is my prayer to God today… ‘pick me up, lift me up…’ and by eating tiramisu, I am expressing to God my utmost desire.

You see, prayer is not just confined within the walls of churches or chapels. We can offer whatever it is that we do as a form of prayer… even through eating tiramisu.

My friend and I looked at each other – amazed as how we were lead to that gelato place and astounded as how I was able to understand the craving, which turns out to be a yearning of a soul rather than a simple food craving. I must say though, that the tiramisu gelato is far better than the tiramisu at that Italian café. Yum yum.

We were almost ready to leave, I was already standing when the background music inside the gelato place played Alanis Morisette’s ‘What if God was one of us’… and it goes like this…. ‘Yeah, yeah, God is great. Yeah, yeah, God is good. Yeah, yeah, yeah.’.

He is good. He is great. And I know He enjoyed our tiramisu date.