My Sundays are predictable. I wake up early, have my usual toast, orange marmalade and coffee; shower, get dressed and make the 9:30 church gathering.
Lunch with the family can be endless. Last week, we went all the way to early dinner at Din Tai Fung.
Everything was delicious. All were in high spirits, eating up a storm, talking about birthdays, making Christmas and New Year plans.
But just before dessert, we got the news of Leni’s resignation. The red bean dumplings were suddenly tasteless. It was not the chef’s fault.
Even the weather is weird. Have you noticed how it is blazing and humid one minute and wet and wild the next?
I watched the third Senate hearing. I am amazed how the shady, sleazy characters under scrutiny get more respect and deference than your average law-abiding citizen.
Please tell me this is all just a bad dream.
Then I watched CNN-Asia. And there she was, our own Margarita Fores, chosen and honored as Asia’s Best Chef. Good news about someone in the Philippines.
Isn’t that fantastic? Shot in the arm for this senior with flagging hope and faltering faith in the country. At last we take a bow.
Congratulations, Margarita. Thank you for a breath of fresh air.
No shame in repentance
A powerful picture was posted some days ago showing thousands of veterans on their knees at the site of protests in the Standing Rock Indian Reservation.
Calling themselves water protectors, protestors are up in arms against the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, which will transport 470,000 barrels of oil a day through four states.
The multibillion dollar project would destroy their only access to water and desecrate their burial and prayer grounds.
In the meantime, fierce blizzards and well-funded dispersal attempts by county police troops have not discouraged the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and their allies. They have remained firm.
Timothy Egan of the New York Times describes the Natives as “not bitter, and see this stand in spiritual terms.”
He interviewed a young leader. Her words: “In the face of this, we pray. In the face of this, we love. In the face of this, we forgive. Because the vast majority of water protectors know this is the greatest battle of all: to keep our hearts intact.”
Oh what strength and conviction, the kind we rarely see hereabouts.
In the meantime, 2000 US military veterans found common cause with the protestors and vowed to descend on the site and act as unarmed human shields.
News channels worldwide and the social media recently carried dramatic pictures of the moment that Wesley Clark Jr., an organizer of Veterans Stand for Standing Rock, faced the tribe elders of the Lakota Sioux tribe and apologized.
“We came here to be the conscience of the nation. And within that conscience we must first confess our sins to you, because many of us, me in particular, are from the units that have hurt you over the many years. We came. We fought you. We took your land. We signed treaties that we broke. We stole minerals from your sacred hills. We blasted the faces of our presidents onto your scared mountain. Then we took still more land and then we took your children and then we tried to take your language and we tried to eliminate your language that God gave you and the Creator gave you. We didn’t respect you. We polluted your earth.”
At this point, the veterans fell on their knees in contrition.
“We’ve hurt you in so many ways, but we’ve come to say that we are sorry, we are at your service and we beg for your forgiveness.”
Such humility. Such heart.
Prelude to Christmas
Two more weeks and it will be Christmas Day. My sister sent me the link of an old James Stewart television special “Mr. Kreuger’s Christmas,” the story of a lonely old widower who lived in the basement with his cat.
It is Christmas Eve and he walks among the merrymakers and imagines himself leading an orchestra, on a sleigh ride and, finally, with shepherds at the scene of the First Christmas. And he talks to the baby Jesus. I have chosen a few lines.
“I’m Willy Krueger, a custodian—but you know that, don’t you? I guess nobody here can see me or hear me except you. I didn’t bring a gift. I guess that’s not important.
“Thank you for everything you’ve done for me.
“As long as I can remember you’ve been right by my side. I’ll never forget when you walked with me right in those first few hours after I lost Martha. I’ve always been able to count on you, when I felt dark inside. You were right there, every time, right there.
“Even when I didn’t feel good about myself, I knew that you cared for me enough, and that made me feel better.
“Like that time I got mad with Mabel Huntington. Boy, I hollered at her. But then, I got to thinking—you loved Mabel just as much as you loved me and I should treat her the way you want me to.
“I love you. You’re my closest, my finest friend. And that means that I can hold my head high, wherever I go. Thank you.”
If you were there at the manger, what would you say?