Good Morning, Starshine

Postlude to a Storm

Spiritual Reflections by Fr Roderick Salazar SVD (Philippines)

Barefoot on the grass once more, I bask in the weekend sun.
Mario passes by, my fellow dialysis patient he, saying
“Bathing in the sunlight, huh? I make do with San Mig light.”
I bless him for his witty remark as he walks away.

Looking for some butterflies that I saw the last time, I see none.
Maybe the lawnmower’s sound had frightened them away.
But really no butterfly movement in the bushes, just some slight
shaking of a couple of leaves as a large beetle perhaps hungry for
breakfast crawls from leaf to leaf. I turn to face the sunlight again,
and a song from the 1967 musical Hair floats in:
Good Morning, Starshine.

“Good morning, starshine, the earth says hello
You twinkle above us, we twinkle below
Good morning, starshine, you lead us along
My love and me as we sing
Our early morning singing song.

Giddy gloop gloopy nibby nobby nooby la la la lo lo
Sabby sibby sabba nooby abba daba le le le lo lo
Dooby ooby wala dooby abba dabba
Our early morning singing song…

I am singing and swaying in the sun with my stand-by cane
never mind the eyes of our seminarians going to Our Lady’s Grotto
to say their own filial hello. Good morning, Starshine.

And still, no butterflies. And I pause, remembering.
Sighing. Praying.

The people in the photos I saw of Typhoon Rolly and his wrath.
Where might they be now? How might they be?

The lonely little boy staring through what was once the wall of his
nipa hut home, does he now have a roof over his head, some food,
a fresh dry shirt and shorts?

The family that was smiling at the camera, waving grief and sorrow away but determined to rise, how did they spend the day of the storm, the night, and the day and night after?

The boys playing billiards and basketball in their flooded streets
and the barkada downing rounds and rounds of Red Horse beer
their elbows on the table, their feet on the water, and the lady
in shorts with her mug of drink, the bare-chested man sleeping
nonchalantly on his bamboo bed just a foot above his flooded room, the young man sitting in the water watching television,
how now they?

Not so long ago, I came across a lovely little book,
KEEP GOING. The ART OF PERSEVERANCE.

It is by Joseph M. Marshall III, a Native American, a Lakota.
Young Jeremy, having lost his father, asks his Grandfather,
Old Hawk, why life had to be difficult sometimes.

What Grandfather tells him is just right for me, for us, in this
POSTLUDE to a Storm, this INTERLUDE between the Rains.

“In life, there is sadness as well as joy, losing as well as winning,
falling as well as standing, hunger as well as plenty,
badness as well as goodness.
I do not say this to make you despair, but to teach you reality.

Life is a journey sometimes walked in light,
sometimes in shadow.

“You did not ask to be born, but you are here.
You have weaknesses as well as strengths.
You have both because in life there is two of everything.
Within you is the will to win, as well as the willingness to lose.
Within you is the heart to feel compassion
as well as the smallness to be arrogant.
Within you is the way to face life as well as
the fear to turn away from it.

“ Life can give you strength.
Strength can come from facing the storms of life, from knowing loss,
feeling sadness and heartache, from falling into the depths of grief.

“You must stand up in the storm. You must face the wind
And the cold and the darkness. When the storm blows hard,
You must stand firm, for it is not trying to knock you down,
it is trying to teach you to be strong.

“Being strong means taking one more step toward the top of the hill,
no matter how weary you may be. It means letting the tears flow
through the grief. It means to keep looking for the answer
though the darkness of despair is all around you.
Being strong means to cling to hope for one more heartbeat,
one more sunrise.

Each step, no matter how difficult, is one more step to the top of the hill. To keep hope alive for one more heartbeat at a time leads to the light of the next sunrise and the promise of a new day.

“The weakest step toward the top of the hill, toward sunrise,
toward hope, is stronger than the fiercest storm.
“ Grandfather says this: KEEP GOING.”

Perhaps, this, too, is the lesson for us today after the rains.
Keep going. Keep trying. But we need one another to do so.
And we need Your Spirit, O Lord, to keep us going.
To be with us when we sigh, with us when we draw breath again.

It remains a comfort and an inspiration to see Andrea and friends
packing those goods for the families they had pledged to help;
to hear the many appeals from all over and the generous response.
Good morning, Starshine. Our earth says hello. Sunshine.

May this morning be good in whatever form, whatever time. For all.
May there be You, felt or unfelt, but You,
loving us, giving us new life.

May the sun shine a little longer to help us rise from the mud and the mess, to give us space to build, re-build, hope, and love again.

In the closing part of the book by Joseph M. Marshall III,
as the young Jeremy prepares to leave his Grandfather,
filled with the wisdom shared with him, Old Hawk says,

“Remember that in our language, GRANDFATHER also
refers to the GREAT POWER others call GOD.

“The words I spoke are really from that Grandfather,
because of the journey that He gave me and helped me
to make. The journey that has been my life is the source
of what little wisdom I have gained.

“That Grandfather is all around us. He is in the storm
that challenges you, and in the strength that enables you
to face it. He is that whisper of hope against despair,
and the sunshine on your face when you meet each
new day.

“He is there with you in your victories and embraces you
when you suffer defeat. He was there when you came into
this world to begin this journey, and He will be there when
you leave it to begin your next one…”

Thank you, Grandfather of Jeremy. Joseph M. Marshall III.
Thank you, Our Grandfather God.

I look up and around, and oh, the butterflies!
There, two of them. Two small white ones flying together,
flying apart, enjoying the sun, seeming to sing:
Good morning, starshine, there’s love in your skies,
reflecting the sunlight in my lover’s eyes,
good morning starshine, so happy to be my love and me
as we sing our early morning singing song.

As they KEEP GOING, so do we. So shall we.

GOOD MORNING, STARSHINE.

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