AMEN, Let It Be.

By Ella V. Buenaventura

In any of this universe, “Amen" probably is the most spoken word by so many people any time of the day. Why? It might be because the word Amen is written in the Old and New Testament, Hebrew Bible, and the Islam Quran. This word also caps the prayer of Christians, Egyptian Church, Irish Protestants, Judaists, and the Evangelical Protestants. It is also written in Arabic, Ge' ez, Latin and English. 

It is believed that Jesus was the first to utter the word" Amen". He whispered it in the Lord's Prayer. In both praying and teaching the Good News, Jesus opens and ends His lessons with the word" Amen". It is Jesus greetings to His apostles. It is also His word of gratitude. "Amen" is also uttered by priests and nuns as they are given the last absolution in their dying bed. "Amen" is the Alpha and Omega - it is the beginning and end of life. 

“Amen" in English is "let it be". That comes to my mind the Beatles song "Let it Be" that describes the concern of Mother Mary for all of humanity in its affirming lines ... "When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me, speaking words of wisdom -let it be, let it be". Credit it to this group whose song is embraced by all of humanity. The song also proves that the word “Amen" is timeless. It is ageless. It is for all times - then and now and for all eternity. 

I say" Amen" unto you as I invite you to share with me stories in this column that touch on personal experiences, day-to-day happenings that witness God's might and kindness that need to be shared with all humanity. Hopefully at the end of each story, despite the daily tribulations, you will be one with me in concluding that - it is still a wonderful world after all. 

My initial story is about our pair of lungs. 

There's never a moment of boredom in life really. If only we would think that even simple breathing and doing nothing is in itself an accomplishment ... if not a feat. Who do you think can confirm this? Someone asthmatic as I am, no less! 

Can you imagine how hard it is to run after your breath? It is like a chasing game. You are chasing a butterfly with a net hooked in the eye of a. needle. That is an asthma attack. 

Shuffling through my imagination, I see my pair of lungs like two laundry bags. How I wish I could wash my dirty pair with detergent - wash them clean and hang them to dry. Yes, I imagine the abstract painting of Salvador Dali where human innards hang on clothesline. Well, see how my imagination intertwined with what my -brain had collated through, the years? 

Writing about lungs after watching Brother Sun, Sister Moon for the nth time, I brush my heart (not lungs this time) with the holiness of St. Claire and St. Francis of Assisi. ­Feasting my eyes on the beautiful setting of the movie that never fails to hype me - the vast woods of wild flowers, the field of golden wheat and the nerve-chilling snow, everything is created to perfection. 

The beauty I not only see, but seems to smell, too, filling my heart and my lungs (no asthma .this time, take' note) to the fullest of joy. And what magnet has God's unseen presence that made Francisco, Claire and their company of young soldiers gave up the life of comfort, fame and fortune in lieu of a life with beggars and ex-convicts. That is part of the mystery of life that will unfold only in death, only at the conjecture that our lungs deflated. The lung is only one confirmation that God is really a great and a very creative Creator. 

Look at your lungs' X-ray plate. Notice two wing-shaped white figures defined on those negatives? Those are your lungs. 

What are lungs made of? Air sacs. So God created sacs that hold the air and once that pair of fluffy wings collapse, we are dead. "Amen" to our body, alleluia to our spirit! 

Again, we confirm that once our lungs go pffft, we - die. But wait. Those pair of lungs will also be the means that will bring us to heaven. Agree? Yes, in my imagination, they will be inflated to full-blown wings that will flap in the air and will keep us lifted as we journey to heaven. Our lungs will be our wings into the afterlife. 

Riding on this theory is the rationale behind our departed loved ones visiting us in the form of butterflies. Believe it or not! 

I think the lungs and the heart are a conniving team. One organ cannot function without the other. It is also true to form between heart and lungs - that when the heart is in love and beating fast, the lung follows, panting hard! 

See why I opened this article with the premise that life has no dull moment? Simply because-even the lungs have a story to tell.

The Path of Forgiveness

Probably some of us were once involved in harsh disagreements with other people or with members of our family. The whole experience usually left us bitter and unforgiving especially if we end up physically battered or emotionally hurt.   

We are always told that we should not let the sun go down on our wrath. But for most of us, instead of showing forgiveness, we prolong our anger and we keep the sun from going down.

Forgiveness is a reward you give to yourself.  When you forgive someone, you are discharging the burden of anger and pain inside you.  When you choose the path of forgiveness, you are choosing to live your present life and you are preparing yourself to face the future. Having an unforgiving attitude will not relieve you from the burdens of your past; you are only keeping the hurt, pain, anger, and loneliness inside you. You are not healing your pains and you are not giving the person who hurt you the freedom to live in peace and to change for his betterment.

Holding on to your anger may not be good to your health. According to studies, chronic anger not only upsets our relationships with others, but it can also damage our bodies, resulting to heart problems, diabetes, and other deadly diseases.

It is true that we cannot alter another person’s unforgiving heart, but we are accountable for our own attitude. If others cannot forgive, try influencing others by making the first step of practicing the art of forgiveness. We all know that Jesus Christ forgave our sins, what right do we have for not forgiving others?

Feeling Worthless?

Have you ever felt useless and unimportant? And felt that what you’re doing in life is boring and insignificant? Better snap out of it because you are not worthless. You are an important worker of God. You are tasked to build His Church, and to protect it from corrosion.

Most of us do not exactly understand our life purpose. Our goals in life are influenced by the norms of society like to finish a college degree; to establish a successful career; to acquire various estates; to become rich; and the likes. Normal goals are material-based because this is what our culture dictates. If we cannot comply with these norms, we are considered failures and will be classified as unsuccessful individuals.

This world is constantly throwing intricate situations and modern society is emitting complex pressures on average Christians every minute of the day.  Those who cannot race these complexities will end up weary, insecure, and worthless. Our priorities are shifting rapidly and our spirituality is becoming our least concern. For some, doing spiritual works is optional and serving God is situational.  Though it is hard to keep in mind that we are God’s workers, Christians should be assisting Him in the construction, maintenance, and growth of His Church.

We need not be full-time in serving God. We can be His workers no matter what our job or task in life.

As long as we are using our time and talents for the goodness of others, we are already helping Him in building His Church.

How to Live Your Life Without Fear

On New Year’s Eve of 1916, Oswald Chambers, a well-known early twentieth century Scottish Protestant Christian minister, a teacher, a chaplain of YMCA (Young Men’s Christian Association) and author of the widely-read devotional book entitled My Utmost for His Highest, spoke to a crowd of British Commonwealth soldiers in Egypt whose lives had been overturned and battered by World War I.  In his speech he said…

“At the end of the year we turn with eagerness to all that God has for the future, and yet anxiety is apt to arise from remembering the yesterdays. Our present enjoyment of God’s grace is apt to be checked by the memory of yesterday’s sins and blunders. But God is God of our yesterdays, and He allows the memory of them in order to turn the past into a ministry of spiritual culture for the future. God reminds us of the past lest we get into a shallow security in the present… Let the past sleep, but let it sleep on the bosom of Christ. Leave the irreparable past in His hands, and step out into the irresistible future with Him.”

Chambers was right in two things. First, we should stop living our present life carrying yesterday’s load. If pains of the past still bother your present life, remind yourself that your past is already history and you can no longer change it. We should not waste our energy on things that we can no longer change.

Another remarkable point that Chambers mentioned in his speech was to stop living our life with too many worries about the uncertainties of the future. Remind ourselves that no matter how well-planned our life, there will always be some space for blunders, crisis, setbacks, difficulties, etc. We plan our life because we are scared of our future. But life is not perfect and too much planning will not make it perfect.

If a calamity struck our lives in the past, it should not pull down our hopes for the future. Instead, our past tragedy should teach us to become stronger individuals and should prepare our inner selves as we face the uncertain future.