Friday, February 27, 2009

Keep shining

When I was a little girl, one of the first things I wondered about was why stars twinkled. Thankfully, my question was not left hanging in the dark abyss of outer space indefinitely. Long before computers and internet search engines in our house, there was A Child's First Library Of Learning, a series of books created by Time-Life in the late 1980's to the late 1990's (Wikipedia), where I found the answer to my query. I love to read - my passion for books and literature sparked at a very young age. My parents bought the set of books back in the 80's to nurture in us kids an enthusiasm for learning.

Today, I was reading Part II of "To Thine Own Self Be True" by Cort R. Flint, ThD. As I was about halfway through page 82, the lights went off. I looked up at the ceiling and sighed. Another sudden power outage: no signs, no warnings, no nothing. I grabbed my mobile phone and used its feeble screen light to find my way to the cabinet where we keep traditional light generators that triumphed before the light bulb - candles. I lit two: a fat one already placed on a candle holder and a skinny one whose bottom I stuck on a can of Ligo sardines. I placed the thick candle in the kitchen while I put the thinner one in the living room. I turned the faucet by the sink and heard a sputter of air. Water was out of the picture as well. No electricity usually went hand in hand with no water.

Power outages in our area weren't uncommon. In fact, I was so used to it in elementary and high school that it was merely a welcomed disturbance from homework - a chance to get up from my study table to stretch a little, drink a glass of water, and then fetch some candles. To make the light bright enough for me to finish what I was doing, I'd have three to four candles on my table. I almost lived up literally to the saying, "nagsusunog ng kilay" meaning nag-aaral ng mabuti ("burning eyebrows" meaning studying hard). However, with laptops and other electronic devices nowadays helping people do the work, cutting off electricity certainly becomes a nuisance.

Nevertheless, power outages bring back fond memories no matter how badly having electric deficiency sounds like. You see, when power is out especially at night - we turn to nothing except each other in the family armed with a few candles, a few fans and a few thoughts or stories to share. We'd all be sitting in the living room staring at each other, waiting for the first person to crack up at the sight of straight faces trying hard not to giggle or snicker (but failing to do so).

In spite of, or perhaps thanks to, the black out tonight, I had an epiphany when I stepped outside our house and saw the twinkling stars shinging brighter than ever. They were like jewels strewn across the dark velvet sky enticing me to stare at their beauty.

In "To Thine Own Self Be True", Cort R. Flint mentioned that man's ultimate desire is to have a meaningful life. 

Many people embark on what they call 'soul-searching'. I was one of those people. I thought that a faraway place is where I will find what I am looking for. Oh, but how wrong I was! For the place where I began asking questions ended up being the place where I found the answers - HOME. The different destinations I had in mind were simply physical means of determining that I have truly moved and made 'progress' in my search. The journey, on the other hand, gives me only a new perspective and a fresher outlook that provides momentum for important revelations. What I'm looking for has always been there; it was only waiting to be acknowledged and brought forth to the light.

"Knowing God, self, and the purpose of life is the only fortune worth finding, and it is not to be found in faraway places - but in the heart itself."
- Cort R. Flint, 1968

Paulo Coehlo's book, "The Alchemist", tells a similar story:

"Santiago, a boy living in Spain, leads a common life of travel through his trade of shepherding and entertains thoughts of marrying a merchant's daughter. One day, he has a dream in which a child tells him to go to the Egyptian pyramids, which will lead him to hidden treasure...

When Santiago finally reaches the Pyramids, he sees an omen in the form of a scarab and begins to dig in the dunes. He is attacked by two refugees of the tribal war and has to admit that he is searching for treasure there. One of them laughs and reveals that on that very spot, he had a dream about finding treasure in the church where Santiago first had the dream. Santiago returns to the church and finds the treasure."

The Alchemist (novel). (2009). Retrieved February 27, 2009 from Wikipedia:

People are like stars then. We know ourselves as being nothing more than pinpoints of light.. plain white dots on a black background. Only when a star's light has passed through the atmosphere will it twinkle. Similarly, only when we let our lives be touched by the love of God will we shine.

Do shining stars know they sparkle? Do they know they inspire wonder and hope to others who have remained mere pinpoints of light? I wish, nay, I pray they do.

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