From the Editor

November – December 2017

Life, Death and the In-Betweens

By Arlenne Villahermosa

This issue of focuses on life, living and death. In November, we celebrate All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day wherein we remember the lives of all those who have gone before us – how they had lived their lives and the mark they left on us. In December, we commemorate the birth of Jesus, the Word made flesh, the fulfillment of God’s love for humanity and all of His creation. Jesus showed us the way how to live life fully, inviting us to follow Him in loving obedience to the will of the Father.

I visited the grave of my father last November 1 and 2, and for these two days I caught myself staring at his tombstone for a good number of minutes. Flashes of what my father had said and done came to mind. I could only utter words of gratitude for the life he had lived, the example he had shown and the love he had given. His was not a perfect life but he lived it to the full. This made me ask myself, “How am I living my life?”

I recalled a poem written by Linda Ellis called, “The Dash”. And it goes like this:

I read of a man who stood to speak
at the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on the tombstone
from the beginning… to the end.

He noted that first came the date of birth
and spoke of the following date with tears,
but he said what mattered most of all
was the dash between those years.

For that dash represents all the time
that they spent alive on earth.
And now only those who loved them
know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not, how much we own,
the cars… the house… the cash.
What matters is how we live and love
and how we spend our dash.

So, think about this long and hard.
Are there things you’d like to change?
For you never know how much time is left
that can still be rearranged.

If we could just slow down enough
to consider what’s true and real
and always try to understand
the way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger
and show appreciation more
and love the people in our lives
like we’ve never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect
and more often wear a smile,
remembering that this special dash
might only last a little while.

So, when your eulogy is being read,
with your life’s actions to rehash…
would you be proud of the things they say
about how you spent YOUR dash?

While I was in the hospital bed for about a month in 2012, I watched life passed me by. I could do nothing because my body was hooked to different kinds of tubes. I managed to wake up each day only with the grace and generosity of God manifested in and through the people He sent my way – the doctors, nurses, hospital staff, friends, Columban family, relatives and my family. I could not ask for more. The service, love and generosity of the people surrounding me were all that mattered. As I watched them each day, I could not help but be filled with gratitude for the love, care and service they have shown. I became the recipient of all of these. The only way I could show my gratitude was to fully participate in the healing process by being obedient to the procedure I had to undergo and allowing people to attend to and care for me. I was called to be still and allow God to be in control. With humility and gratitude, I let go and allowed God in. It was a moment of complete trust and obedience. I smiled because it did not dawn on me that I could allow myself to simply drift in His love, practically doing nothing except to obey.

God meets us as we are, in the different stages of our lives. The important thing is that in whatever stage we are in, we do (or not do) things with great care and joy, in the spirit of generosity for the abundance of blessings we receive, mindful of the presence of others and of God's creation. We are constantly invited to let Him in and allow His love to transform us and guide us in our actions and decisions – to be part of the healing process that we all need, individually and as a community of peoples.

God has given each one of us the gift of life. He showered us with His love, accompanied us in our joys, sorrows and difficulties, and gave us His only Son that through Him we may find life eternal. Jesus was obedient to the Father till the end. He showed us the way to love.

The invitation and challenge in our world today is how to live our lives in loving response to the gift that was freely given to us in love – to live a full life participating in the salvific plan of God for all.