“If you sense the tide of grief welling up in you, treat it like the sacred emotion it is, and honor it. Give yourself time to sink in it, allow it to immobilize you with its weight, and trust that it will flow through you and out — if you let it. Grief truly felt never lasts forever — only grief avoided does.” (Jessica Moore)
And I tried. Silence and creative solitude in the midst of family and like-minded grievers, for more than two weeks, the flowing through is still ongoing.
The results of the recent Philippine national elections has reawakened a deep sense of grief felt only when I lost my husband to cancer in 2003 and when I lost my son Jonas to enforced disappearance in 2007. Not that it has gone away or that I have forgotten. The deep pain was simply pushed back, buried under a resolve to keep the faith. Acceptance of the reality that things would never be the same with the absence of these two loved ones magnifies the pain of the loss.
The election results? Once again a Marcos is elected to be president of the country. Why this son, a namesake of the dictator, was chosen by the very people who were the victims of his father is what causes the deep grief. Why forgetting and moving on are considered superior to justice and honoring the memories of the fallen who fell for the sake of the freedoms enjoyed by these same people exacerbates the grief.
Through various expressions in songs, dance, opinionated narratives, memes, short videos, speeches, homilies, prayers, we read and heard the anguish of souls for and in behalf of the beloved people and country. It is easy to see me in their expressions yet this deep grief summons me to fly high far beyond the mountains and let the tears fall to find my purpose.
“Not to dear mate or comrade do I cry but to my own remote identity who knows my spirit as divinely summoned to gain that perch where no horizons lie.” (Jessica Powers, O.C.D.)
As Jessica continues, “the artist weeps to wrench this grief from stone; he pushes his hands through the tangled vines of music, but he cannot set it free.”
So do I, looking deeper into the utter depravity of those who received a measly sum to vote for this candidate, so he, the voter, could buy a hot meal to relieve the pangs of hunger but giving up the opportunity of living in the dignity reserved for one adopted as a son of God.
“How long, O Lord, must I bear grief in my soul. This sorrow in my heart day and night? How long shall my enemy prevail?” (Ps.13)
“It is the pain of the mystic suddenly thrown back from the noon of God to the night of his own humanity.” (J Powers) The bright noonday sun shimmering through the pink caps of waves swelling from unexpected outpourings of generosity. The resurfacing of goodness and charity towards strangers that came with the movement of “radical love,” which is to love all including enemies, now which may be understood as a “pink principle.”
“Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people…” (Galatians 6:10). All have brought the sun to shine as if it were noon.
This hope was rekindled in the response of the young and the endowed to the challenge of the Candidate who pledged to love, visible in the hundreds of thousands who came out to take part in the “pink” mobilizations.
Once palpable, this hope visited me during the time of the dictatorship when people of all walks of life walked into our We Forum and Malaya publications office to offer help. I being the receptionist who kept office in front of a table beside the front door received the offers, from a pencil from a non-sighted beggar to voluminous documents exposing corruption in government from a justice, to a big kettle of soup for tired overworked underpaid editorial staff from a grandmother.
At that time, I so longed for relief from prolonged hearing “the stones cry out” during the more than 20 years of martial law in the Philippines where 107,200 plus victims mostly killed, tortured and imprisoned, according to Amnesty International, suffered, not counting their families and relatives and the nation deprived of future leaders.
“It is his grief; it is the grief of all those praying in finite words to an Infinity Whom, if they saw, they could not comprehend; Whom they cannot see.” That pierces the heart. (Sister Miriam of the Holy Spirit, There Is a Homelessness)
But solace can be found in the fascination of a Mahatma Ghandi in the Gospel. He says “Profoundly refresh yourself at the fountain of the Sermon.” (Tascabili Economici). “Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3-10).
Words of life that assure us that we will find that “perch” where we can see beyond horizons and there find our identity.
Edita Burgos is a doctor of education and a member of the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites. Gunmen — believed to be soldiers — abducted her son Jonas Burgos in Manila in April 2007. He is still missing.