Childhood, candles and birds

By: Jason A. Baguia February 03,2017 - 09:04 PM


The blacktop glistened with moisture from a brief spell of rain. The air was chilly. It was Candlemas, the second day of February, the fortieth after Christmas eve.

Was it time to speak of childhood again?

In the sprawling provincial capitol, a teacher, a lawyer and a children’s mentor spoke against a law in the making to count as criminals even kids as young as nine years old.

In the church, the priest who has a long history of working with young people recalled a scene from his childhood.

Whenever a storm came along and the sky flashed with lightning and rumble with thunder, his grandmother would take out and light a candle blessed at Candlemas.

I had twelve of these candles in a bag on the pew, a dozen in remembrance of the twelve men closest to our Lord.

Did the parents of Peter, James, John and the rest of the apostles, like Joseph and Mary fulfill the requirements of the law? The law of Moses had a far grander vision for children than adversarial House Bill 2 of Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez. Every first-born, every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord.

Joseph and Mary came to the temple to consecrate to God their first-born, their only son. With him they offered tokens indicating their humble background, two turtledoves.

I shall always remember that biblical offering. The grounds of the school where I work, a fifteen-minute walk from the church are often visited by doves, not turtledoves, but zebra doves, rare, with brown and black-and-white feathers and who unlike the common pigeons that roamed as big flocks went around in pairs.

We were a pair, my friend and I, on the night before I saw the zebra doves. On the supper table, he spoke of a dream of his, to be able to provide shelter to street dwellers someday. I had just told him about someone we know who spends his time helping reintegrate children into society after their troubles with the law.

My friend will not find so much difficulty since there are many who have a heart like his for wayward kids. At dawn on Candlemas I heard the radio announcer say that the archbishop had decided to build a place for street children as a permanent souvenir of the International Eucharistic Congress that was held in the city in the previous year.

In the church, the priest told his congregation that he realized his grandmother’s sacred candle was no magical instrument, not even if she lighted it in the hope of warding off storms.

The candle reminds us, he said, to hold on to Jesus especially in dark times. He is the light that no darkness shall overcome, whom no storm shall extinguish.

In the gospel of Candlemas, the light is a baby boy. In times like ours, lawmakers need light to see children, especially the lost, for who they can be.

Perhaps they had no grandmother to shield them from the storms of life, no good friend to share with them kind and generous dreams, no chance to go to a school and be taught the message of love at the heart of all creation.

Your honors, do not worsen with incarceration the story of each child who has been deprived of the good things in life.

Remember the word of the baby who is the one true light when he became a man: Are not two sparrows (those small brown field birds sold in wooden cages on this island) sold for a penny? But you are worth so much than sparrows!

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TAGS: birds, candle, candles, Cebu, childhood, christmas eve, God, Jesus, joseph, Mary, religion

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