During these past days after Christmas, I had the luxury of spending some time in our home town by the sea.
A reflection on the sea, its songs and its waves, might help us enter the new year ahead of us. We were told that life came from water. New life, new year. Life is sustained by water, so are our years ahead.
I have a special relationship with the sea where I grew up and lived.
My mother watched the wide sea by our window every afternoon and cried. She was missing her family in far-away Mindanao. At such a young age, I learned how to cry with her, with someone. The sea is such a great connector of lives even beyond its horizons.
When life is too heavy, the sea calms me down. I can easily sleep by the sound of its waves, by its rhythmic song. Like Mama, it assures me that people on the other island beyond the sea’s horizons, feel the same sea and remembers me.
I learned how to swim before I learned how to read. My father taught me that the sea is a friend; it pushes you up when you will just let go. He also taught me how to fish. For truly, the sea gives forth life for the family. But when gales come, as one day I went fishing with my brother, I also learned that the sea can also swallow you into its bowels. Life ahead is not certain. Life is not always safe. But we know that the sea is the source of life. And hope thrives by the sea.
There is so much life “down under” once you learn how to live by the sea. Beautiful corals and sea grass, fish and shells of all sizes and colors, big whale sharks and small seaturtles. You can befriend them. They are our friends, my father used to say. Life is the same. Hope can display friendships of all kinds and colors in all their splendor. Kindness and care, wellness and health; they are our wishes for the year ahead.
In our little village, at that time when there was yet no running water in our houses, we all go to the sea. One can just dig some holes by the shore line, and pure drinking water gushes forth. We call it “guiwanon.”
Mothers come to wash clothes and share stories, while we children play with the waves and swim nearby. It is by the sea that the story of the community thrives and lives.
Kahlil Gibran, a Lebanese poet, one of the world’s best, wrote the “Song of the Wave.”
“I and the shore are lovers.
The wind unites us and separates us.
I come from beyond the twilight
To merge the silver of my foam with the gold of its sand;
And I cool its burning heart with my moisture.
“I am fretful and without rest,
But my loved one is the friend of patience.
Comes the ebb and I embrace my love;
It flows, and I am fallen at his feet…
“How I consorted with the rocks when they were cold and still,
And caressed them, laughing, when they smiled not.
How I delivered bodies from the deep
And brought them to the living…
“In the still of the night when all created things embrace the phantom of sleep, I alone am awake, now singing, now sighing.
Alas, wakefulness has destroyed me, but I am a lover and the truth of love is awakening.
“Behold my life;
As I have lived, so shall I die.”
The gospel for the new year reads: “Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.”
She did this while watching the manger with her baby.
I did the same while watching the sea in all its beauty.
For God is all in all.
Happy New Year everyone.
Father Daniel Franklin Pilario, C.M., is a theologian, professor, and pastor of an urban poor community in the outskirts of the Philippine capital. He is also Vincentian Chair for Social Justice at St. John’s University in New York. The opinions and views expressed in this article are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of LiCAS News or its publishers.