Human life is accustomed to the narrative of rising and falling. What sustains its narrative is the formidable and the natural reason to thrive is life itself.
Whenever I come home, I always visit the same open (rice) field, the same location, a particular spot. It is the place where our house used to be standing prior to the one in a current lot. After more than three decades, the only thing that remains is the huge mango tree that was once felled by a strong wind several years back. The mango tree resembles an epitaph of our remote past, a silent witness to our once simple and happy family life together.
We were once making our plans for what to do in the near future. During sundown, we shared thoughts on how to alleviate our situation. Who is going to school and continuing his studies? Who would marry first and with whom? So forth and so on. The same tree of course reminds me of my father who planted it. Every time I looked and spent a moment of quiet, sitting on it was like a journey to a glorious past. I walk around it, its huge trunk lying on the ground with some roots showing up, pointing to the sky-symbolic of trauma, absurdities, human struggles of falling and rising.
The mango tree represents a kind of expression of experience. I cannot go back directly to what had happened but it can and enables me to recreate the context in which the expression of experience was produced.
The tree has come of age now but it is formidably growing just the same regardless of its history.
Human life is accustomed to the narrative of rising and falling. What sustains its narrative is the relentlessness and natural reason to thrive is life itself. What keeps you holding on?
Pandemic is over. The bleak and dim lockdown is now a matter of historical data. How did we cope? It doesn’t matter anymore. We do it if we must, to continue rolling up the boulder as in Albert Camus’ Myth of Sisyphus. Man can defy against the absurd. It is proven among Filipinos who are known for resiliency.
It’s been five years since I left the ministry, the feeling of guilt and shame is still there. Some of my roots are too exposed, pointing to the sky. There is also a sense of relief knowing that I have moved an inch, shaking the dust of failure to recovery, thankful for the compelling truth who is Christ, still teaching, still consoled by the brothers for reaching out, nourished by the same profession of faith, always hoping and believing in the highest good.
Pushing the boulder up the hill is indeed a futile task. It rolls back down from time to time but I must keep pushing to roll up. Fully aware of the local adage: “Malayo na pero malayo pa.” But what keeps me going? As life and experiences keep pushing us to become formidable, underneath that mystery of defying the absurd, there is one thing that existentialists have forgotten, or intentionally did not include. It is grace! It is God’s unconditional affection for transgressors. The promise in a ‘life after the fall’ is the promise of redemption.