A column by Bles Carmona
For the week of Apr. 8-14, 2015
“JUST LIKE STARTIN’ OVER…”
As part of this John Lennon song goes: “It’s time to spread our wings and fly/ Don’t let another day go by, my love/ It’ll be just like starting over.”
Now volumes have already been written about what John Lennon meant. Was this song his last paean to his eternal muse, Yoko Ono? People have said that this must be the gist of the song. They may have wanted to recapture a former vibrancy to their love. Still another view was that it wasn’t about John and Yoko at all – that it was actually John’s rediscovered love for music after he left the Beatles. Well, in a world where Libras like John Lennon were and still are free to imagine, let us craft another meaning into this idea of “starting over.”
In the Judeo-Christian tradition, we have the great Easter parable of Jesus Christ’s birth-death-and-resurrection. Another concept of starting over was the Deluge of Noah’s time, where everything on earth was cleared out prior to the seeding of new life via the Ark. In Japanese history we may talk of the Meiji Restoration of 1868 or the rising up from ruins of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Our home country, the Philippines, is a picture of starting over and over again after each onslaught of a typhoon or thunderstorm. The idea I’m building with these examples is that in each event of adversity, the strengths and good nature of the people involved truly emerged in outstanding ways to restore what was lost (the status quo) or even improve on the common ground.
You can say that what I’ve just been through this past Lenten season is my rapid-burst crash course in “starting over.” First of all, I almost did not make it to my 45th birthday last April 4. I literally dropped dead, stone-cold, jaw-achingly blue around the gills on Palm Sunday. And for what? Apparently it was a lethal mix of pneumonia and asthma. I went into a respiratory arrest while my family rallied, led by my youngest sister Edna who took care of updating my one big Facebook family (which means some of you who are reading this). According to my sister, she can only attend to one thing at a time, so when she wasn’t making decisions about my care with our family’s help, then she was updating my Facebook status by listening closely to what the doctors and nurses were reporting to her. I will be forever grateful to Edna for rallying what I call my “community of faithful prayer warriors.”
Here’s how I put on my FB Wall post a couple of days after I got home from Kaiser Permanente San Leandro:
“Mabuhay! This is Blesilda. Thank you very much to my family and friends who have been with praying with us during my scary health ordeal. I see obvious parallels between the Judeo-Christian death-and-resurrection parable and what I’ve been through – but lest you think of how presumptuous I am, please bear with me as I articulate how simply humbled and blessed I am, ever so grateful for my second chance at LIFE because of the power of GOD. I was at my lowest when I lost my breath. But it took a COMMUNITY of FAITHFUL PRAYER WARRIORS like each of you to bring me back because GOD LISTENS. Was it just another great coincidence that my birthday this year was on Black Saturday, the day before Easter? Many messages are intersecting in my mind and heart, but for now, what could be more apropros than: GOD IS RISEN INDEED! PRAISE BE TO GOD!”
You know, there are lessons to be learned from my experience on so many levels. I won’t force my own realizations on anyone, but let’s attempt to make sense of this “reset-button” type of experience into a bio-psycho-socio-spiritual framework. In the realm of body and mind, what happened to me was a wakeup call about taking even more care of my physiological and psychological health, since nothing can be taken for granted anymore, even a random community-acquired Pneumonia pathogen or even a possible coronavirus as suggested by my Manila Science High School batch mate Ms. Gigi De Jesus-Kidary who is now studying these illnesses at a Nurse Practitioner student in Florida. Sociologically, my health scare united sincere and faithful prayers from ALL OVER, I kid you not! My sister Cherry Santiago posted from Manila, “To my most beloved sister Blesilda. Today, you literally gave me a ‘heart attack’. It is a turning point in my life. You made me realize how valuable you really are to me. And no matter the distance, always remember we are one in spirit. I love you, Ate. You continue to be an inspiration and a stronghold to me. Fight! Fight! Fight!”
Gigi Kidary prays for me from Florida, Pereg Rina Pepito prays for me from Italy, Rei Laue prays for me from Zurich, literally hundreds of family and friends all over California, the USA, and the Philippines! Guys, if Facebook is here with us for life, then let’s utilize it for some spankin’ hot meaningful mass-movement! If this social medium can wrought miracles on behalf of one plain and simple person, then imagine what we could truly pray for, think about, and mobilize about – en masse!
Spiritually – oh! The last frontier and the trickiest of all. Here’s the bottom line if my Facebook family are right, and I know they are: I was brought back to life because something in my “life mission” is not done yet. Logically easy enough to make that leap, right? But as my friend Tres Roque posted in his prayer for me, “May you know what your mission is.” Coming for me through a time of a literal rebirth, I do sincerely hope that I may find that mission soon.
However, if my mission involves continuing to write for the Manila Mail for many weeks and months to come, giving me a platform from which I can contribute my views and research – to educate sometimes, but to entertain always – then I can say that FOR NOW, I am indeed fulfilling part of my life plan here on Earth. How blessed I am!
Another perspective was shared to me by my best friend and fiancé Lean Dela Rosa, when I asked him, “Puro na lang ba pagsubok?” (“Is it just going to be one trial after another?”) Lean replied, “Ganun talaga ang buhay, di nawawala ang pagsubok para patuloy tayong kumapit sa Kanya.” (“That’s the way life goes, trials will always be there so that we can continue to cling upon Him.”) Lean and his mother belong to the “Ang Dating Daan” Christian congregation.
I started with a fragment of a song. Now please help me end this column with a Latin song we used to chant in a former charismatic episcopal church to which I belonged. As translated by my brother-in-law Angelito T. (Jerry) Santiago, who is a Deacon of the Roman Catholic Church, the song goes:
Non nobis Domine, Domine, /Non nobis Domine. /Sed nomine, sed nomine, / Tuoda Gloriam!
“Not unto us but to God be all the glory!” Amen and Amen!
Find advisor Blesilda44 at KEEN.com, 1-800-ASK-KEEN (1-800-275-5336), extension 05226567 either by phone or chat: Mon-Fri 7-10 pm, Sat-Sun 7-11 pm Pacific. I speak English, Tagalog, and some Spanish. For personal readings (fee required), email me here: firstname.lastname@example.org