If, as Herod we fill our lives with things, and again with things, if we consider ourselves unimportant that we must fill every moment of our lives with action, when will we have the time to make the long, slow journey across the desert as did the Magi? Or sit and watch the stars as did the shepherds? Or brood over the coming of the child as did Mary? For each one of us, there is a desert to travel. A star to discover. And a being within ourselves to bring to life.” Author unknown quoted by Sarah Ban Breathnach in “Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort”.
How can we not fill our lives with things when we are flooded with them through our eyes, our ears, even our noses? Many things fill the mind of many disadvantaged women and pressure them. First, will the day’s needs be met? What gifts can she give her children? Will she ever be able to provide them with a filling Christmas table? During the holiday season she is still working at the same time doing the various domestic tasks.
How can abused women consider themselves persons of worth? Victims of physical violence can only feel the pain. Those who experience economic violence do not feel treasured at all. They keep asking themselves, where has the husbands’ earnings gone? Infidelity gives its victims a depressing sense of rejection.
On my way to church and on the trip back home, I look at the trees, shrubs, and ornamental plants, amazed by more than 12 shades of green, or listen to the bird sounds and listen to the various insect sounds. But these are often interrupted as I see mothers busy preparing breakfast or getting their products ready for sale on the street corner.
In our industrialized, crowded and garbage-plagued communities, is there place and time for star gazing? As the marginalized women rush to a hundred and one tasks, they cannot be bothered by that other important journey inward.
But last Saturday, Legal Alternatives for Women Center, Inc. hosted the women leaders from the north, south, and west of Cebu in a Christmas party which allowed them a break. The long trip gave them some time for reflection, a breather away from their daily routines. The program gave them an opportunity to display their talents. Some time was taken to encounter friends with common goals for empowerment and contributing to the building of green and peaceful communities. The economic independence provided by their livelihood projects gave them a degree of self-worth. That was a very refreshing and joyful time.
Last Tuesday, DSWD social worker of Talisay City, Ms. Louella C. Vestil was the guest of Sa Mata sa Kababayn-an. Talisay City had been awarded by the Cebu provincial government through the Provincial Women’s Commission as Most Gender Responsive Component City three times! Her discussion with program anchor Atty. Virginia Palanca-Santiago and Ms. Fe Cabatingan was very fruitful, looking back at the work of responding to women’s concerns and building their wholeness. Happily, their barangay officials do not hesitate to speedily act on cases of violence against women. Ma’m Virgie pointed out that the enthusiasm of the locality for the gender issues was seen in their eagerness to start the program ahead of the arrival of the facilitators. And there was perfect attendance of the barangay captains! The local governments (city and barangay) do not hesitate to provide services and funds because a bottoms-up budget had been prepared. Watching the episode was a good time to pause and listen and be grateful.
Looking forward, I am anticipating an opportunity for reflection in the Marian Congress dedicated to Our Mother of Perpetual Help mid-February 2017. We cannot allow our prayers to become stale and routinary. This is a time arranged by the Redemptorist Community for devotees and other Marian enthusiasts to reflect on their faith, their religious practices and devotions, and their special relationship with Our Mother of Perpetual Help. They have provided periods of gazing at this miraculous icon!
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