Sunday, May 14, 2006

brokenness, blessedness

i come home to find my self surprisingly alone, in a quiet house all by my self, with my thoughts and feelings clearer and louder than usual.

the ex took the kids' out for a birthday party at his family's house. even the maid went with them as little Bea won't go without her yaya.

so, even though i was looking forward to greeting the children when i got home, even mulling over the idea of a dinner out for Mothers' Day, especially since i left home early today to go to the peace center for my training class while they were still asleep, i also welcome this surprise private and holy time alone.

the training in communications skills ended today and i bring home with me the gifts of my students' heartfelt sharing of their lives and conflicts, even as we discussed how to communicate more effectively in conflict.

one particular young lady, L, touched me so. at the start, she was the least feminine of them all, dressing up in baggy clothes and acting like a tomboy, coming in late, all tough and cocksure. but gradually, i learned that at 24 years old, she has only finished fifth grade (although she registers in our roll as having finished second year high school) and has already three children, all sired by different fathers she never really knew. i also learned that she grew up in a very poor family of 14 children, her father an alcoholic, her mother trying to make ends meet by vending. she helps her mother by making and selling balut (a Filipino delicacy of boiled almost mature duck's egg) in the late evenings and early mornings. for a fifth grade level education, though, she spells English words perfectly, and has the more thoughtful questions and insightful answers. towards the end of the afternoon today, when we were discussing how most of our perceptions of our selves and of the world are brought about by how we were socialized in our homes, she shared that she hates her parents for bringing her up in this sorry world.

the girls were sharing how most of them forgot to greet their mothers earlier today, and how most of them felt uncomfortable about saying nice things to their moms, and L was sharing that she didn't even feel like a mother, how does a mother really feel? but she surprised us all, when, during a break, she went out for a while and came back with two pink flowers she picked outside to give to me and my co-trainor. i must have surprised her too, with my instant reaction-- i hugged her and kissed her happily, even as i could feel her tense up but accept my embrace and kiss still, though shyly.

later, i learned from the girls how they came from abusive homes, either verbally or physically, and how that's why they don't have much respect nor sympathies for their mothers, how even just saying "please" or "thank you" is unheard of in their world, where, as one other girl shared, they eat insults and beatings along with their meals, if they can eat a decent meal at home, when so many of them have to compete for food even.

at the end of our training, even as most of us felt teary-eyed at our parting, L, especially, was surprisingly giddy. even as some of her classmates still performed their skits, we let her be walking around, drawing on the board, writing "Thank YOU, Teachers, Happy Mothers' Day, We Love You!!!" and drawing happy faces and hearts all around and giggling.

i come home still thinking of L, and all the rest of the girls, with a fervent prayer that not only have they learned something from our training, but that what they learned they could take with them and use and better themselves and their lives, considering the odds already stacked up against them.


from appearances alone, one never knows all the many people who hide so much broken-ness inside.

we were discussing in our class today how anger can be good, in that it tells us something-- how beneath all anger is pain, and beneath all that pain are unmet needs. so, that's why i got to learn about the students' experiences of anger and pain in their lives, too.

and so, i come home today pensive and humbled and awed at the same time, of how there is so much conflict and violence all around, when all around deep down, people are actually just hurting so bad, with no one to truly listen and understand.

i come home too feeling blessed, that despite the travails of my life and all its ups and downs and broken-ness, too, i have come to this good place at last, to this place of healing and wholeness, and how maybe i am being called now to help heal and nurture others to wholeness, too, with my just being who i am, and in the work that i do.


without knowing about what i was going to learn today, i chose St. Francis of Assisi's Prayer to start today's session off.

Lord, make me an instrument of Your Peace
Where there is hatred, let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy...

Oh, Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled, as to console
To be understood, as to understand
To be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving, that we receive
It is in pardoning, that we are pardoned
And it is in dying, that we are born to Life.

now i understand why my students were so seriously and earnestly praying our prayer today, and even copying it in their notebooks.


P. S. i go into the bedroom with a happy surprise, though: on the bed, i find a piece of bond paper, with a pencil drawing of a little girl with Zzzzzsss all around her sleeping head, and a bigger lady in a long flowing gown, with a heart made of red glitter. beneath the picture are scrawled these letters--

Thank U Tooth fairy I lov U!

: ) : ) : )
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