When presence meets presence

I brought home with me two more gifts from our last summer encounter. The first was the song that is playing over and over in my head until now. I’m an incurable romantic whether you believe it or not so a song about love would play endless runs in my head. Here’s part of the lyrics of the song that’s been keeping me company.

Love, love changes everything … how you live and how you die … with love days are longer, words mean more … with love pain is deeper than before … Love will never, never let you be the same.

The second was the story about a monk and a traveller. Here it is to refresh your memory.

Even though it was the Master’s Day of Silence, a traveler begged for a word of wisdom that would guide him through life’s journey. The Master nodded affably, took a sheet of paper and wrote a single word on it: “Awareness.” The visitor was perplexed. “That’s too brief. Would you please expand on it a bit?”The Master took the paper back and wrote: “Awareness, awareness, awareness.” “ But what do those words mean?” said the stranger helplessly. The Master reached out for the paper and wrote: Awareness, awareness, awareness means AWARENESS.

When I asked myself why the story seemed familiar I remembered my high school biology teacher. My teacher would always say to us awareness, awareness, awareness. How she loved to pound it in my ear in different notes. And now that I know what good science teaching is, I appreciate her style. She loves to take us outside to interact with living things before we study them. One day she took us to a pond. We were there to take as much information we can from the pond for about an hour. When we went back to our classroom she gave a test. She asked us to list 10 different things we saw in the pond and describe each in terms of its texture, smell, appearance, etc. I couldn’t even give more than three. What could be in the pond except for fish, water and plant and they must all smell filthy and must be slimy because it’s a pond? And my teacher would whisper in my ear these words: “that you be aware of what surrounds you; details, that’s all I’m asking. One hour, one hour, you were there for one hour and that’s all you can muster. You don’t need to go to a pond to know those three”. Isn’t she clever? I went to a small catholic school so that Biology teacher of mine doubles as our English teacher. Within the same week that we had our trip to the pond she asked “How would you describe the pond and its surroundings?” I said, “still, very still but not under the water where except for lucky ones, fish had to fight with other fishes for food, or pit wits with men for food that would cost their fragile lives…” and even before I finished my answer she would give me that smile that makes a student forget about recess time. She loves to say “class that is Awareness with capital letter A about the world we live in”. And she’d follow it with something like “to what would you compare the stillness of the pond?”. “You have the rest of the hour to say it in 250 words”. I pass high school because of that mathematical method called getting the average. So what is that awareness the monk was talking about? I don’t know really. It’s definitely not the awareness mantra of my Biology cum English teacher. All I know is that when I accompany my friend early in the morning to thank the Lord for her gift of life, up there in that adoration chapel in Mt. Tabor,in the silence, presence meets Presence. It wasn’t even an hour. Thanks Fr RH for that photo

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One thought on “When presence meets presence

  1. presence meets PRESENCE… i like this thought. our simple presence can be turned into a colorful experience but this is quite difficult to sustain. we need 'persevering presence' and a lot of grace to remain present even if the GREAT PRESENCE turns or seems to be a PAINFUL ABSENCE later.

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