“In life. On a path. On the road. We are never really lost but merely finding our way. There is no need to stress about where you are or where you are going. Your way will be found. Trust that, and meanwhile enjoy your path… This place where you are right now, God circled on a map for you.”—Hafiz
I enjoy the thrill of flight. The whole exercise of sitting in an airport, of watching people, observing how families, friends and lovers wrapped in warm hellos and bidding one another reluctant goodbyes never ceases to move me.
In-flight is quiet time for me and my thoughts. Getting up close and personal with the Father who knows my heart more than any other is my favorite thing to do within that confined space, 35,000 ft above the air.
Occasionally, when turbulence strikes, I like to imagine our Father, cradling the plane safely in his arms, sweeping the clouds away, getting me safely to my destination.
By the time you read this column, I will again be on a journey. Later this month, I will deliver a paper in Miami, Florida, on the Filipino Mother’s Grief Experience at the 9th International Conference on Grief and Bereavement in Contemporary Society. If someone had told me 15 years ago that I would be doing such a thing, I would have shrugged my shoulders in disbelief.
We never really know what life brings. We can plan down to the last detail, but more often than not, setbacks and disappointments come. I’ve learned through the years to be much more discerning, to be in the flow, to roll with the punches when they come, and let things be.
Not that I just let life happen to me, no, that isn’t the case. But having known and experienced first-hand that many things in life are not under our control, it’s been easier to let go and simply enjoy the ride. When plans fall through, I hold on to the thought that our Father has something better planned.
When Father’s Day comes along, I cannot help but think more deeply of our Heavenly Father and of my own earthly father who left this world too soon. I mull His faithfulness to me despite my flaws. I think about what my life would have been if my dad had been around to see me grow up.
Dad was a very hands-on father—a rarity in the ’70s when I was a child. He modeled what great fatherhood ought to be in how he was very much involved in our lives, steady but never an obtrusive presence. Sure, his temper was legendary, but so was his generosity and love. It’s no wonder mom never remarried, dad had pretty difficult and large shoes to fill.
Dad was a Renaissance man—astute in business and all things military, but with a passion for theater, the arts and the written word.
Much of my journey after age 16 was pretty much influenced by my father’s loss. When I finally confronted the issues that came with losing a father so suddenly and so early in life, it set me free in many ways.
It pains me now that one of the people who helped me a lot during those difficult years has, at this stage in life, found herself on an unexpected journey. Dr. Honey Carandang, who has helped countless individuals and families, is facing a possible legal battle for speaking out on what she believes to be true. It is, in my view, an unnecessary fork in the road, in a life that has been dedicated to helping others find their own way.
It’s a challenging time for this dear mentor and friend, but I know that, as with all things, in time, all will be well.
Anne Lamott wrote: “Grace never leaves you where it first finds you.” It always does.
Having experienced this for myself at different points on my own life’s journey, I believe that everything comes into fruition in His time.
At the crossroads, one is never really “lost” because, as the Sufi poet Hafiz wrote—“This place where you are right now, God circled on a map for you.”
Even St. Therese affirms this in her prayer— “May today there be peace within. May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be…”
Eventually, we find our way, circuitous the route may be, through the challenges and difficulties, and all in His perfect time, we become better and more compassionate persons because of the moments in our lives that seem to set us off-course.
Before my father died, one of the last things he gave me was a copy of the serenity prayer. “Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”
I have called that prayer back to mind so many times in my life, and it has helped guide my decision-making and keep me still, even in the eye of the storm.
Thank you, dad for teaching me to be resilient and to always remember that in the end, no matter how long the road may be, everything works out for the good if we continue to remain true to ourselves and to trust and believe.
The MLAC Institute for Families and Children present a talk by Dr. Honey Carandang on “Truth-telling and National Healing: Claiming Our Dignity and Integrity as a People,” June 30, at the St. Luke’s College of Medicine Auditorium.