Saturday, December 20, 2014

Living L.I.G.H.T.

“Lead, kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom,
Lead Thou me on!”

Those are the first lines of a poem, “Lead, Kindly Light” by John Henry Newman that a nun has taught us many years ago. They somehow show what kind of gloomy world we are in nowadays.

Hopes have been dimmed when armed Talibans massacred over 140 people, mostly schoolchildren, when they stormed a school in Peshawar, Pakistan. A lone gunman in a cafĂ© siege in Sydney, Australia stole the lights out of two hostages along with his own life when he held hostage 17 people. In another incident in Cairns, also in Australia, 8 children were found dead in a suburb home. These and other atrocities in many parts of the world including our own country bring darkness to our world in what should be a festive time. There’s also a certain darkness of the soul for people who are suffering from terminal illnesses and all kinds of addictions and those driven to despair and depression by seemingly insurmountable problems, worries and anxieties.

But is it really a dark world for all of us?

“Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene—one step enough for me.”

We are all capable of being little lights in our own small ways. Let me share what I have shared to a group of smart, beautiful and dynamic young women a couple of Decembers ago when I was invited as their Guest Speaker on their Installation of Officers. Southern Mindanao was then reeling from the ravages of Typhoon Pablo a few days before that day in 2012. A year before that, also in December, Typhoon Sendong let loose its fury in Northern Mindanao. A year after, in October 2013, a 7.2 magnitude hit Bohol. As if that was not enough, barely a month after in November, Super Typhoon Yolanda came at its heels and devastated Samar, Leyte and many other places in the Visayas. The whole country grieved and mourned during those dark times.

But all was not lost because of the many people who have let their lights shine not just in those times but also during the many other times during the year. What then does it take to be a L.I.G.H.T.?

L is for LOVE. 

Do everything with love and in love. What better place to start doing this but at home where charity begins. What better description of love than what St. Paul wrote the people of Corinth:

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”

Need I say more?

I is to INSPIRE.

Have you ever encountered a person you look up to and want to be when you grow up? Why is that so? It is because you are inspired by them. I am inspired by writers, artists and people who have the courage to be different and those who make a difference in the lives of others. They’re not necessarily famous people; some are ordinary ones who dared do extraordinary things for the good of others. St. Therese of Lisieux was one such person who lived an obscure life in the Carmelite Convent but who became one of the greatest saints in modern times. It’s amazing how in her life story, she wrote that her ambition was to be a saint! How many of us have ever dreamed to be one?

G is to GIVE.

Giving is a universal principle just like the golden rule, just like the law of karma. Biblically it says, what you sow, you reap. Whatever you give goes back to you a hundredfold.

Give a hundred per cent of yourself: time, talent, treasure, and you will reap a good harvest of the same, only a hundredfold. Giving of yourself is synonymous with commitment. If you are committed to your marriage, to your family, to your organization, and to whatever activity you participate in, that is more than enough giving of yourself.

Give, give, give…as Mother Teresa said, until it hurts. That is the true essence of giving.

H is for HELP.

Being a light in this dark world means helping others in need even if they cannot repay the good you’ve done to them. There are a thousand and one ways to help and there is no need to publish every help you extend to others.

In December 2011, my daughter, who was then a reporter for a TV network, was sent to cover Cagayan de Oro and Iligan after Sendong. She wrote that she and her crew were a part of the team, “Wa Pay”. That means, “Wa pay ligo, wa pay tarong kaon, wa pay tarong tulog” (no bath, no decent meals, no proper sleep) for two whole days. But they realized they were better off than team “Wa Nay”, the victims of Sendong who were “Wa nay makaon, wa nay balay, wa nay pamilya, wa nay panginabuhi, wa nay kinabuhi” (no food, no home, no family, no livelihood, no life). Just like the victims of Typhoons Pablo and Yolanda and other natural calamities.

So, please, HELP in any which way you can because come to think of it, it is much better to be on the helping side than to be on the receiving end of a help.

Lastly, T is to TEACH.

I consider my teaching years as some of the best years of my life. You see, when one teaches, one does not lose, but one gains and learns even more. So, try to teach one another whatever good you can teach especially the young ones. Be generous with knowledge and teach. In that way you become a beacon of light.

Love. Inspire. Give. Help. Teach. Be little lights.

But there is that One True Light, the Reason for this Season of lights. May we remember this valuable insight I got from the devotional, “Our Daily Bread.”

‘The great invitation of Christmas is to open our hearts to the Savior who came to end our darkness. Jesus said “While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light. I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness.” (John 12: 26, 46) The way out of our spiritual night is to walk in the light with Him.’

A Blessed CHRISTmas to one and all!

(Photos of hands from

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