Tuesday, November 28, 2006


We wait for many things, some important some trivial. Some times we seem to wait in vain. We wait for war to end. We wait for peace. We wait for human rights violations to end. We wait for justice. We wait for lying to end. We wait for truth. We wait for petty, partisan, self-serving politics to end. We wait for genuine service. We wait for indifference to end. We wait for genuine caring and compassion. We wait for the end of hollow waiting. We learn to distinguish between moments of desperation or moments of faithful surrender after taking decisive and principled action.

Farmers wait for the “palay” or rice seedlings to grow. But, before the waiting, so much had already been done. They prepare the soil, weed, cultivate, fertilize and irrigate it before the rice seedlings are planted one by one by hand. Farmers have done this for hundreds even thousands of years everywhere. Nature has stood by humans who simply had to learn how to cooperate with her for the sustenance and promotion of life.

The world is the way it is because more and more people are cut off from nature. Nature is the great teacher of waiting which develops into the virtue of patience. Both the capacity to wait and the virtue of patience have increasingly lost appeal since the industrial revolution, where the speed and efficiency of the assembly line became the norm. Machines cut the time of human productive activity to unimagined levels. The rhythm of life became more and more obedient to the hour and second hands of the clock. Like a bullet hurtling out of a gun, time followed a precise and straight trajectory, losing its circular, cyclical and natural qualities. Humans learned to live managed lives, governed by rules and clear goals and objectives. Time frames and deadlines became the structure of days, weeks, months and years. Life quickly lost its mystery and wonder. Life became a job, a stressful, repetitive task. The impatient “task oriented bastard” or TOB came to life.

Back home, a Filipina goes through a painful waiting. On November 1, 2005, a Filipina known as Nicole (not her real name) was allegedly raped by an American service man while three other companions cheered him on. Nicole unlike so many rape victims did not keep quiet. In the last months, the tedious and dehumanizing process of court hearings with the usual cross-examination going through the gory and graphic details added to the unwanted burden of Nicole’s November 1 trauma. On Monday, December 4, 2006, the court is expected to pass judgment on the case. Meanwhile, Nicole waits. And while she waits she entrusts herself to God saying, “I leave everything to God whatever the outcome is, our Lord has His own purpose. He knows why and He has reasons why I am in this situation.” (cf. Philippine Daily Inquirer, November 27, 2006, p.A1)

Nicole’s life will never be the same. What seemed a straight, un-interrupted trajectory was broken by an ugly tragedy in Subic. Bars and nightclubs, wars and soldiers have become parts of our linear, anti-nature existence. The so-called “Rest and Recreation or R & R of American service men used to be an integral part of life and livelihood in Olongapo and Subic. When war ships docked at Subic harbour, the red light district came alive. The artificial and shallow culture of sex, alcohol and drugs was kept alive by the former US Military Bases. Along with these came disease, abandoned children (Amerasians), battered and prostituted women, broken families and broken lives. What happened to Nicole is also symbolic of what has been and continues to happen to thousands of Filipinas in the artificial, un-natural environment of “short time,” “quick fixes” and the other ugly features of the abuse and commodification of persons.

The waiting should not only affect Nicole. It should also affect the four service men who have been charged. In fact, Nicole’s waiting should affect all Filipinos and all Americans for that matter. Nicole has reached the point of seeking the meaning and reason of her trauma in the light of God’s plan for her life. Hopefully, the four service men are moving in the same direction.
Our lives cannot go on without pause like a clock’s hour or minute hand. We pause and wait for our thoughts and feelings to settle down. After climbing several flights of stairs, we pause and wait until we catch our breath. After any experience happy or sad, uplifting or traumatic, there is reason to pause and wait. In fact, even if life moves on an even keel, a pause, a wait gives depth and perspective to what seems ordinary.

The world did not stop for Nicole. Very few stopped and waited with Nicole. The few who did however, made a big difference. Those who stopped and waited with Nicole stopped and waited for truth, justice, healing and compassion to take place. Somehow Nicole feels this in her heart of hearts. She feels that she is not alone.

On Sunday, we celebrate the first Sunday of Advent. The following day Nicole goes to court and waits for judge Bejamin Pozon to read his decision. Nicole waits for the triumph of truth and justice. We hope her waiting is not in vain.

But does the triumph of truth and justice depend on one Judge?
Our frustrations increase, our hopes are continually dashed because we wait and pin our hopes on persons.

Advent is similar but quite different. We do wait for a person, a special person, Jesus who in his life, words and deeds continues to bring us truth, justice, healing and peace.

Fr. Roberto P. Reyes
November 28, 2006


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