I’ve never been on a silent retreat. I’ve always wanted to, but never got the chance. And so it was really wonderful that I got chicken pox this past Christmas break, because it afforded me a great deal of free time, something I’d been longing for immensely. (Note: Don’t get me wrong… I’m not anti-social or anything like that. I just happen to be an introvert, and what it means is, I need to be alone once in a while to recharge. Being with children and students all day is an enjoyable part of my job, but introverts tend to find it draining at times. Hence the need for “alone” time.)
And of course, it was similar to a silent retreat because I was in quarantine and couldn’t talk to anyone as I was “imprisoned” in my room. So basically, I got sick and tired of myself, haha!
I say getting chicken pox was great, because for me, it is evidence that He grants us the innermost desires of our heart. I was yearning for alone time, and I got it! And it was sooo nice to wake up to the singing of the birds outside my window, with the sun gently shining on my face… instead of at 5 a.m., when it’s still dark outside, with the incessant beeping of my phone alarm. It was soooo nice to eat my meals in peace and quiet, with a good book in hand, and take as long as I wanted instead of wolfing down my food to get to my next class on time. I was even able to make a considerable dent in my To-Be-Read book pile! And realized that, even if I didn’t buy books for the next ten years, I still would have plenty of books to read.
Of course, the down side was getting quarantined in my tiny isolation room, and missing out on the season’s get-togethers and naturally, missing the highlight of the holidays (for me): Christmas eve mass!! Where you sing the most beautiful music on earth, together with the congregation. And your voice becomes one with theirs, and it blends and lifts up to Heaven… one big communal, musical offering.
So today being the Feast Day of the Epiphany a.k.a. the last day of the Christmas season, I went to mass and was hardly expecting any Christmas songs to be sung (seeing that none were sung during the New Year’s eve mass).
Lo and behold! Not only did the choir sing Christmas songs all throughout the mass (even during the homily!), they even sang my top three favorites! Lo How A Rose E’er Blooming, What Child Is This and O Holy Night. Lo How A Rose is not a very popular song in the Philippines, so it was really a huge surprise and an unexpected pleasure to sing along to it!
Some might call it coincidence… but I think it’s a sign of Our Father’s love, how He grants even the ‘trivial’ things that bring us so much joy.
And so, the holiday season comes to an end, the carols will no longer be heard, the Starbucks Toffeenut latte will be discontinued… but in the words of a certain poet, NOW is the time that the real work of Christmas begins: with the start of a new year, a challenge to be the answer to somebody’s prayer… everyday.