You just gotta ignite the lightAnd let it shineJust own the nightLike the Fourth of July—“Firework” by Katy Perry
It was, literally, a Katy Perry moment. Or okay, a Disney one, in the sense that all the wishes I had made for this trip had come true.
A few hours ago, on the drive to the San Francisco airport, the skies were ablaze with fireworks, and yes, tonight is the 4th of July. It was, as Jeff, my childhood friend who drove me to the airport earlier tonight, said: the perfect send-off.
The last few weeks had been spent studying and delivering a paper in an international grief conference and, on the last leg, an intermingling of moments of solitude and precious hours spent with dearest friends.
A few days earlier, Jeff and I had been walking the tree-lined streets of his suburban home and we reminisced about our days at Ateneo in the ‘80s and how our Philosophy classes, profound though they may have been to our 20-year-old minds at the time, made the difference in our Jesuit education.
“We lose ourselves, to find ourselves,” I told him as we walked through the woods close to his house.
Jeff and I had known each other since we were five-year-old preschoolers at Philippine Montessori Center in the village where we both grew up. Along the way, our lives took different paths and for many years we lost touch.
A few years ago, after a life-threatening surgery (his), we reconnected and have been in close touch since. Over the last eight months, he has lost, not just one, but two loved ones: his mother and eldest brother.
Although not related by blood, we are family to one another. Lost and found has been a recurrent theme in our lives.
Time spent with friends who know your heart like no other is always enriching for the soul. They provide fresh insights and, because they have known you forever, they remind you about what is real.
On this trip, after a grueling (but nevertheless fun) week in the Miami heat, I traveled five hours to this cooler part of the West Coast.
Joseph Campbell wrote: “Your sacred space is where you can find yourself over and over again.” Perhaps that’s part of the reason I find myself often returning to this part of the world.
On this leg of my trip, I made no advance plans on how I was to get from one destination to another. I always like to leave some part of my trip unplanned. Besides, I thought to myself, I could always cab it or take the BART from one point to another.
But God had other plans, I guess, for on every step of the journey He sent angels who made the travel so much lighter. Many of them unexpected, and it was the timing of their presence on this trip that made the journey all the more memorable.
My mother always used to say, begin and end every journey with a prayer. Everything in between becomes light, and there is always the sense of a higher being guiding your way.
On my last day here, I was not certain about how I was going to end this trip and how I would get to the airport, big bags and all.
But a day before my departure, who should pop in at the last minute? Jeff, who a few days before had said goodbye and was supposed to be in Detroit on business, had suddenly been called home to attend to things.
And being the brother he’s always been to me, he called me this morning to say he was in town, ready to take me if I needed a ride to the airport.
There was nothing more I could have asked for on this trip. Everything I had prayed and wished for was given.
“If you only knew what the future holds. After a hurricane comes a rainbow. Maybe the reason why all the doors are closed, so you could open one that leads you to the perfect road,” Although we know that in life there are no perfect roads and that sometimes it’s the detours and U-turns that teach us the lessons we need to learn the most, Katy was spot on when she wrote those lyrics. There is really nothing to fear or be anxious about. Trust and believe in His timing for all things, because He always, without fail, illuminates the darkest of nights, provides the light, and shows the way to lead you safely home.
E-mail [email protected] com. Follow her on Twitter @cathybabao