Spiritual Reflections by Fr Roderick Salazar SVD
Oh my! They sigh. They cry. They fly. They die.
My people. My sisters. My brothers. Oh, my people.
The wind and the rain pummeled them.
The raging floods swallowed them and their homes.
The sun is out now, thankfully. Some water has ebbed.
But the mud remains. The stink merges with wet things.
The pots and the pans and the rice in the sack and shelf.
Gone. The precious photo album of our growing up. Gone.
Stolen by that sly Ulysses and his vanguard typhoons.
Oh My. I sigh. I cry. I fly to You, my God. May I not die.
“I am part of all that I have met”, says Ulysses
in Alfred Tennyson’s poem. I, too, I say.
So, as typhoon Ulysses goes Vietnam-ward and beyond,
I find a quiet place and time and meet all that I have met.
DEAR MINING-OPERATOR ME:
How long ago has it been since you started? How much wealth
have you amassed? I understand you have employed many
who would otherwise not have had any job.
But in the years that you dug the earth for different treasures
have you replenished what you have taken away?
Have the trees you have cut been replaced?
Might it not be time to stop? I understand you still have contracts.
But you are smart enough to do what you can do.
Maybe work till the end of the agreed time. Maybe just cut off.
Be prepared for what you have to pay. Your workers, your partners.
But surely it is time to pay back Mother Earth for all you have taken.
You have been part of the floods that have destroyed our country.
Oh you did not bring the rain and the storm. But you took away
what should have been the absorbing power of the earth.
So the typhoon fury just lashed what was once forest and all the
water gorged down to where people live.
Dear Mining-operator Me, do find a way to pay back our planet.
DEAR LOGGING-COMPANY-AND-QUARRY-OPERATOR ME:
How many trees have you felled, or rocks have you broken and
carted off denuding the forests, emasculating hills and mountains?
Oh yes with what you have taken away, you have built homes
and made roads. But what you have left behind irresponsibly
has caused the floods to destroy the same homes and roads.
Is it not time, too, to stop? Review your contracts, see what
you can still do. See how many workers you have to take care of
when they lose their jobs. Prepare for their retirement or
redundancy pay. Please do not just fire them. Take care of them.
They are your brothers, too. Look at our country. Do love it again.
DEAR LEGISLATOR-AND-JUDICIAL-AND-EXECUTIVE ME:
You were voted in or appointed to your post to care for your country. How have you responded? Do you really care?
Do you do your job?
I understand you spent millions to get elected so you must first recoup your investment, and prepare for the next election. When do you stop? The laws that you make or unmake or neglect, for what reason and for whose benefit has any of your action or inaction been?
The money you appropriated for roads and bridges and school buildings: were they really spent for that? Maybe you were not responsible, but I suppose you know of roads that lead to nowhere, bridges that remain un-built or considered built but there is no stream or river below to cross which was your reason for the budget for the bridge.
So when the rains and the winds came slightly or heavily or gale-strongly what you may have built were simply washed away.
What bridges you did not put up now have the water that needs them. Is it not time to truly run your country in love, and self-sacrifice? I know it’s hard. But you can try. You can start.
Little by little.
You – I — in the government posts that were put up to serve, what have You and I done? When the rich operator gave you something for you “and the boys”, you forgot the requirements of the law. One contract and another and another. Till what the law provided, the “for-the-boys” forgot. So when the rains and storms came, the structures that could have absorbed or stopped the water just were not there, or if there, were so poorly built they just collapsed. And the water came – for the boys and the girls and their fathers and mothers all.
Oh My. We sigh. We cry. We fly. We die.
DEAR ORDINARY-CITIZEN ME:
You are not in elective or appointive position in government but you are in this our country. Do you see our streams and our rivers and our seas? They are the natural absorbers and sources and conduits of water. But have you taken care of them? How much of the waste that you throw away find themselves into those waterways, clogging them till they are no more. When the rains and the storms come and pour water into them all the filth, all the garbage, all things we had dumped irresponsibly are carried away into the streets, back to our homes, wherever, wherever the
the strength of the flow would lead them, leaving mess
everywhere they landed when the water could no longer hold them. You too, dear ordinary-citizen Me, are part of the problem we face today.
But you, too, are the responsible one. You clean up well. You just don’t throw things away. Your homes may have been flooded too, you may have lost things yourself. But you rise above yourself to help others. I thank you, too, barangay police and tanods and all even without name.
You are the Good Samaritan in the parable of Jesus. You are and you become neighbor to anyone and everyone in need.
May the Lord bless you.
My brother, my sister, my parent, my child, my relative, my friend, you and I and all of us are sometimes victims but sometimes perpetrators of everything that happens in us and around us. There is in each of us good and evil. The challenge is to make our good overpower our evil and emerge more often
than does the bad.
Alexander Solzhenitsyn, otherwise a Russian army officer but imprisoned in the dreaded Gulag Archipelago because of comments against Stalin, realized in those horrendous years in prison that good and evil are in all of us:
“Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good
and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor
between political parties either—but right through every human heart —and through all human hearts. This line shifts. Inside us, it
oscillates with the years. And even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained. And even in the best of all hearts, there remains … an un-uprooted small corner of evil.”
And so, DEAR ME, dear all that is part of Me, in the aftermath and in the midst of all the tragedies in our life, we pray that the good in us emerge, bloom, prevail.
DEAR GOD, thank You for the life that You give to us,
each in our time and place.
Forgive us for the many sins we commit against You, against Mother Nature, against one another.
Thank You for the hope and the strength to live despite the difficulties we face.
Thank You for the good that comes out of us to help another in greater need.
Thank You for being with us always and everywhere though we do not know it.
We need to remember that You had told Your disciples to expect strife and difficulties in the world, but that they were NOT TO FEAR, in fact they were to be of GOOD CHEER — because YOU have conquered the world. (John 16:33)
I keep this in my mind and heart. Always.
I remember too what Morgan Freeman playing the role of USA President said to his nation in the aftermath of a comet that hit the earth causing fires and floods, destroying cities and farms and homes. DEEP IMPACT was the movie. He said:
“Millions were lost, and countless more left homeless. But the waters receded. Cities fall, but they are rebuilt. And heroes die but they are remembered. We honor them with every brick we lay, with every field we sow, with every child we comfort, and then teach to rejoice in what we have been re-given. Our planet. Our home.
So now, LET US BEGIN.”
So, indeed, shall we. Together, LET US BEGIN. AGAIN.
DEAR ME, DEAR GOD.