Sunday, January 5, 2014

On Coincidence

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. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2013 in Books

My Life in Books (2013)

Titles in bold are HIGHLY recommended, while italicized titles were ones I found rather disappointing and hardly worth the effort/time/money.

1.      Rules of Civility by Amor Towles
2.      Love and Other Dangerous Chemicals by Anthony Capella
3.     The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barberry
4.       Immanuel’s Veins by Ted Dekker
5.     Ireland by Frank Delaney
6.      The Journal by Henry David Thoreau
7.      The Third Gate by Lincoln Child
8.     Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset
9.      The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
10.  The Virgin Cure by Ami McKay
11.  The Voice That Challenged A Nation: Marian Anderson and the Struggle for Equal Rights by Russell Freedman
12.  Breaking Faith: Can the Catholic Church Save Itself? by John Cornwell
13.  The Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
14.Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill
15.  Suffer the Little Children by Frances Reilly
16.The Gate to Women’s Country by Sheri S. Tepper
17.  Paris: The Collected Traveler by Barrie Kerper
18.  Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay by Nancy Milford
19.  I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella
20.  The Art of Practicing: A Guide to Making Music from the Heart by Madeline Bruser
21.  Almost French: Love and a New Life in Paris by Sarah Turnbull
22.  Letters of a Portuguese Nun: Uncovering the Mystery Behind a 17th Century Forbidden Love by Myriam Cyr
23.The Thread That Runs So True by Jesse Stuart
24.  Teaching Stories: An Anthology on the Power of Learning and Literature by Robert Coles
25.  A Good Man Is Hard To Find and Other Stories by Flannery O’Connor
26.  Star Maker by Olaf Stapledon
27.If I Live to Be 100: Lessons from the Centenarians by Neenah Ellis
28.  The Faith Club by Ranya Idliby
29. Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky
30. Empress by Karen Miller
31. The Cloister Walk by Kathleen Norris
32.  The Great Transformation: The Beginning of Our Religious Traditions by Karen Armstrong
33.   The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
34.  Manila Noir by Jessica Hagedorn
35.  Longfellow: A Rediscovered Life by Charles C. Calhoun
36.  Two Graves by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
37.  The Story of A Soul by Saint Therese of Liseux
38.   The Ingredients of Love by Nicolas Barreau
39.  Jerusalem: The Biography by Simon Sebag Montefiore
40. The Various Flavors of Coffee by Anthony Capella
41. The Mauritius Command by Patrick O’Brian
42.  The Battle for God: A History of Fundamentalism by Karen Armstrong
43.   Twitterature: The World’s Greatest Books Retold Through Twitter by Alexander Aciman
44. The Modern Inquisition: Seven Prominent Catholics and Their Struggle With The Vatican by Paul Collins
45. The Most Beautiful Book In The World: Eight Novellas by Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt
46. Venice Is A Fish: A Sensual Guide by Tiziano Scarpa
47. Tales of Wonder: Adventures Chasing the Divine (An Autobiography) by Huston Smith
48. Augustus by John Edward Williams
49. Abigail and John: Portrait of a Marriage by Edith B. Gelles
50. Panic in Level 4 by Robert Preston
51. The Traitor’s Wife by Kathleen Kent
52. Bella Tuscany by Frances Mayes
53. Sister Genevieve: A Courageous Woman's Triumph in Northern Ireland by John Rae
54. The Secret of Lost Things by Sheridan Hay
55. Directing for Theater: A Personal Approach by Edgardo Bengson de la Cruz
56. The Small Rain by Madeleine L'Engle

57. Sake and Satori: Japan (Asian) Journals by Joseph Campbell

Previous Years:

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