To be a lawyer

Manong Ralph is taking the UP Law School's Law Aptitude Exam today. It's a tough exam: thousands of lawyer-wannabees are desperate to get in the most prestigious law school in the country.

But my brother is not consumed with desperation. Instead, he is overwhelmed with preparing his heart, more than his mind, for it. I know he'll do well and that he'll do his best. Even in Math.

But I know for sure that he will not be able to answer a single question unless the Lord gives him the means to do so. Today, he will get an idea, (but may not exactly observe), how the Lord operates in His children's lives.

Whether he passes or not is secondary. What is most important is that my brother, in his time of need, will see himself utterly lacking and will therefore take the exam in calm surrender, knowing fully well that God is his God.

Be still. Shut up.



People close to me know for a fact that I talk a lot. They seem to listen to me all the time; I don't think they're sick of my blabbering. My mother, however, insists that I KEEP MY MOUTH SHUT if it's possible to do so, especially when I watch TV Patrol with her at home. She hates it when I talk while the reporters are saying something about the current state of dirty Philippine politics. I now get her point.

I'm talking about this now because I attended the Youth Fellowship's Mid-School Year Retreat with the theme, BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD (Psalm 46: 10). Kuya Lito Sto. Domingo, the youth pastor of Higher Rock Christian Church, explained that God is a person to whom we can turn to for safety; He is a source of strength to those who are weak and defenseless. Kuya Lito went on to tell the story of King Hezekiah in the parallel chapters of Isaiah 53, 2 Kings 18 and 2 Chronicles 82: the king of Assyria had already invaded the neighboring cities except Jerusalem. But instead of panicking or cursing or hyperventilating, King Hezekiah, ruler of the city of Jerusalem, turned to God for help. He stilled himself in the comfort of knowing that the Lord who had been faithful wouldn't fail him.

The discipline of silence is the voluntary and temporary absention from speaking so that certain spiritual goals might be sought. Solitude, on the other hand, is the voluntary and temporary withdrawal of self to privacy for spiritual purposes.

Why then is it necessary for a believer to seek silence and solitude? In the handouts that were given in that retreat, the following reasons were given, viz.:

To follow Jesus' example
To hear the voice of God better
To express worship to God
To express faith in God
To seek the salvation of the Lord
To be physically and spiritually restored
To regain a spiritual perspective
To learn the control of the tongue
To seek the will of God

The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that I have to shut up and pray. My mother is right in this respect.

Mission

Myopic as my eyes may be, I live for a grand purpose. The world views this goal as foolish, nonsense, stupid; but I am not deterred. I do not live to please these wretched people; I live to please Him.

To bring Him the honor and glory is my passion: I enjoy pursuing His joy such that it, too, becomes mine in due time. I desire to be with Him--and I desire Him--more than the fleeting trophies of this life. For to be with my holy Master brings me enormous joy, lasting peace, and eternal life. My lips sing praises to Him who first loved me while I was so unlovely.

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who lives, but Christ lives in me. What truth can be better?

Seventeen, going on nineteen

Nineteen units.

Yes. Nineteen units of science courses that will make blood ooze out of my wide, fat nose. Nineteen units of subjects that will, in due time, sap all of the strength I've stored up during my day-long naps during sembreak. Nineteen units of Chemistry, Biology, Calculus, and Physics that will turn me into a skeletal human being walking around the campus.

I'm exaggerating, of course, but in UP, 19 units is a lot to keep someone wide awake during the night. I'm not complaining, though -- that's a stupid thing to do. But I do know of a few friends who have enlisted 20 or 21 units, and I'm wondering how they could possibly manage their time -- rather, themselves. If only cloning or time travel were plausible options.

I'm in the second-to-the-last leg of the feared UP-Diliman Math Series; it's Math 54 (Elementary Calculus 2) I'm taking. My instructor is Mr. Christopher Santos, a tall, bespectacled man who knows everything he's talking about, especially when he proves mathematical concepts and all that. I and my seatmate, Noelizza, would then find it hard to control ourselves from saying, "AMAZING." It baffles me how mathematicians can find baffling ways to prove their point.

I'm enjoying Chem 26 (Analytical Chemistry), too, not because it's easy (if only it were!), but because Dr. Pascual teaches it. I don't need to study the books because my notes have it all; she is practically a walking library of analytical chemistry. The class gets very interactive when she asks each one to answer her questions, which is like everytime we meet. To escape from getting the hard ones, I'd raise my hand once the first question is raised. That way, she doesn't have to call me the next time.

The lab part, Chem 26.1, is supervised by Mr. Greg(gy) Santos. I'm not sure if it's going to be as fun as Chem 16 because the experiments employ loads of calculations. Sir Greg -- he insists that we call him Greg, not Greggy -- seems to understand that students will always be students: they will, time and again, barrage the instructor with questions with things that they don't quite understand. Thankfully, Sir is patient enough to entertain me.

"May naisusulat na ako sa notes ko," I'd tell my classmates in Physics 72. After all, Miss Jaki Gabayno's class is a far cry from the one I had in Physics 71: she slowly explains the lessons so that way, most of us would understand them. She's short and small and smiles a lot. Inside her skull, however, must be a brain that might as well discover something that will shake the very foundations of Physics.

While I hated Biology in high school, I think I'm going to love it in college. Dr. Lilian Ungson and Dr. Sonia Jacinto are my professors: the former teaches botany, the latter zoology. The class is scheduled from 1 to 2:30, followed by the laboratory part handled by Miss Mae Rose Sumugat. It's a good thing I'm seatmates with Juanchi and Angela, my classmates in MBB, who, like me, adapt to harsh, sleepy conditions, by talking with each other.

That's about it. I'm pleased that I have 19 units of subjects that will make me learn how to trust in God's grace and sovereignty, knowing fully well that my strength is utterly lacking.

Crystal clear

I've never been good at finding things.

I remember my father giving me the use-your-eyes-not-your-mouth lectures whenever he'd ask me to get him something, and I wouldn't be able to because I couldn't find it. Then, he'd look for it himself, and would clearly demonstrate that through silent searching, one could find what one is looking for.

My Bio 11 laboratory activity therefore comes to mind.

The class was asked to find all the crystals in the cell's vacuole. I chose the Begonia stem. I did a cross section of the stem, mounted it on the slide, placed a cover slip on the sample, and poked my tired, bespectacled eyes through the microscope. The sample looked amazing under the LPO: the compartments called cells were clearly visible, even the vacuoles where those crystals could be found. But the problem was when I had to focus it under HPO to create a greater magnification of the sample. The image I saw was darker, and while there were things that looked prominent enough, I didn't think they were the crystals. They didn't look like the ones Miss Sumugat had drawn on the blackboard. I tried looking at the other parts of the specimen. I couldn't see the crystals.

Time passed rather quickly, which almost always happens whenever you're doing something under pressure. You have to get it done before the instructor tells you it's over. Time's up. And when you think you're about to find it, you realize that there is no time.

I was praying all the time. "Lord, help me find it." But the Lord gave me a slightly different answer. It's a timeless reminder for people who seek to find something. Sometimes, the things we're looking for can never be found because they're never there. But that doesn't mean that they do not exist.

I've never been good at finding God, but He has always been the best in finding me.

Adaptive mechanisms

Spot the difference. I've been playing this game all day, comparing last sem with this one. This sounds crazy, but the differences, I've realized, are rather stark. For instance, I used to really get sleepy and tired in most of my classes last sem, but there's something rather exciting about the classes I'm taking now. And then, I feel that I'm more receptive to the lessons, I write more notes, I smile a lot more. Is it my instructors? My classmates? Or is it my newly-evolved sleeping habits of six hours or so a day?

Living things do learn to adapt.

Pixellated memories

Like a pilgrim I walk
To marvel at the twisted, orange rays of light
That signal the end of the day
And the reminder of others to come.

I embrace each moment
For tomorrow, this world may hear the last sigh of my breath
Never to be seen alive, but only through the teary eyes
Of loved ones laying down flowers in my peaceful grave
Only a memory doomed to be forgotten through time.

With myopic eyes I see the world
In pixels of myriad colors
Blended to reveal the timeless portraits of Creation
Whose beauty lasts but for a second.
What wonder and awe! I am overwhelmed.
I may not remember all.

My wish is relish each moment
To capture the pixels of the present
In timeless frames of portraits
That seem to shout, "Perfection!"

So that someday
When my hair recedes and turns grey in old age
I can relive the captured moments
And with breathless expectation leave this world
With pixellated memories.

Beginnings

The beginning can never determine the end. A good start can only pave the way for a good ending. It cannot dictate the end. But who doesn’t think good beginnings are better than bad ones? After all, in the aftermath of the events, the end is inevitable and will perhaps remain elusive until we have almost reached the finish line. Therefore, in our cluelessness, we ought to start things right.

The problem is that we can’t. Or, more appropriately, we can’t on our own. Even if we so desire to do so, even if we’ve exerted all the effort we can muster, we can only do so much. We don’t have the final say. The final card isn’t in our sleeves. We need help.

But help from whom? It must be help that comes from Someone who knows all things, plans all things, and does all things for our good. We need God’s help. Better yet, we need God Himself. Isn’t it He whom the Bible magnifies as the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end?

Baby talks

I was provoking my little cousin, Naomi, to anger yesterday.

"I own a hundred of those [referring to the rice fields we were passing by]," I told her.

"I own a thousand," she said.

"I own ten thousand."

She just wouldn't give up. "I own a hundred thousand!"

I said, "I own a million. Can you beat that?" I was grinning.

"Aaaaarggghhhh!" She was quite furious with me. She doesn't know any number greater than a million.

I couldn't stop myself from laughing--I'll wait till she gets into calculus.

Cries of desperation: The Comments

I've been to Banga, South Cotabato to visit my mother's side of the family. It's a tradition, see, but I don't really look at it like that. It always gives me a wonderful feeling to talk to my aunts and uncles, to laugh at the seemingly incessant problems that flood them, and to play with my cousins who are getting taller every time I see them.

But while I was there, I couldn't help but think, "Will people misunderstand what I had written yesterday?" This, folks, is my post Cries of desperation. I was hoping to jolt people who happen to stumble into this blog, and remind them that we, as living beings, ought to put greater importance to our souls rather than to our physical bodies. I was hoping to remind these people to come to Christ, or else, their souls will rot like animal carcass eaten by filthy maggots.

But praise God for the two people whose comments may have shed light to this issue.

My friend, Jef, wrote,

What a wretched fate those departed souls have. Isn't it amazing He
promises to lavish on us His glorious grace, for eternity, even though we
deserve the full cup of His wrath and indignation?

Paul, also a good friend, wrote,

Even if the most holy and amazing grace [of the Lord Jesus Christ] is right in
front of their eyes, they would still find reason to reject it, preferring to
wallow in their own pride.

It is only in Christ and through Christ that we can affirm, with all our heart and mind and strength, that we are truly living.