“Father, in my grief, I come to you,” the man who – on bended knees on the kneeling pad and facing the altar – seemed to say.
Fr. Alejandro Abad, retired priest of the Anglican Church and from barangay Sanitary Camp, Baguio City was seen last Sunday, alone, at the Baguio Cathedral of the Resurrection, where, when in times of downheartedness or joy, he goes to the Almighty One.
Fr. Abad always pray for the strength to endure; that he may blend his being with the wisest of Teachers.
As churchgoers began to fill up the Cathedral, Fr. Abad stared intently and silently at the table of God.
It was, perhaps, the most intimate, most whole-hearted, most magnificent and most intimate touching testament of power of humility when Fr. Abad knelt before Whom we know as Who remains known and, supremely above all, whom we know remains unknowable.
Fr. Abad was before the One Who has no beginning and the One Who has no end. He was on bended knees, before the Omnipotent.
Watching from the Cathedral’s back pews, Ah Kong tried to fathom what ran in the mind of Fr. Abad, whom he had never seen and talked with for many years.
And for this lapse, Ah felt so ashamed of himself.
Was it Fr. Abad’s profound silence that gently slumped Ah’s shoulders as Fr. Abad bowed his head? Except that One above, nobody there in church that day, will ever know.
One time in childhood, Ah was taught to pray. One time or another, Ah seemed to have forgotten that teaching – or virtue.
In his childhood, that teaching redefined Ah’s footsteps to discover a well-trodden path leading to a House of God then known simply as the Church of the Resurrection.
It was a place where he learned the Holy Book’s Proverbs 17:22 to appreciate humor, that “a cheerful heart is good medicine.”
Ah remembered cheerfully a time he overheard a boy who prayed: “Dear God, bless my daddy, mommy and my big sister who always pull my ears. And please take care of yourself also. Because if anything happens to you, then my sister will have no more ears to pull.”
Then there was that time of a man receiving Holy Communion. Seeing his father drink from the cup of wine, the man’s son blurted, “Kitaem, Mommy, ag-ininom ni daddy ti arak iti uneg si simbaan. Kuna Daddy, madi ag-inom ti arak.”
As a gangling youth who thought he could sing but couldn’t, Ah joined the Church of the Resurrection choir. Some male members took to imbibing wine in hope of making their lousy singing, beautiful to hear.
It reached the sharp and uncompromising ears of the late Fr. Alejandrino P. Rulite, (bless his good soul) then rector of the church. He came over during a choir practice and gave us his tongue on the evils of drinking by kids who couldn’t even buy their underwear, much less mend their smelly socks full of holes.
Fr. Rulite said,” If any of you have beer, pour it down the river, if you have gin, pour it down the river, if you have whisky or rum, basi, lambanog or tapey, pour it down the river. Unnerstang?”
Fr. Rulite was then referring to the watercourse River that spanned Easter School, Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI), Bokawkan Road, the back of the Resurrection Church, Trancoville and Sanitary Camp barangays and finally entering La Trinidad and called the Balili River.
Our choir directress (forgot her name now), peeved because Fr. Rulite stole half of the choir’s practice hour due to his sermon and, fidgeting because she had a late date, stood up, after Fr. Rulite left, and said, “We’ll practice to sing, Shall We Drink at the River, Ehek! Shall We Gather at the River.”
Then there was Ben Kawi from Besao, (don’t know where he’s now) who at one time at the church’s grounds, was reading the bible. Then he exclaimed, “Alleluia, God is Great!”
Virgilio Pindaken, another friend, a self-professed scholar who asserts a lack of belief, asked why God is great. Ben said God parted the Red Sea and let the whole Israeli nation through.
Virgilio chuckled and retorted modern scholars have shown that during that time, the Red Sea was only five feet deep, so no problem for the Israelites.
Puzzled, Robert looked at the bible he was reading and at Virgilio, who had a smug look on his face. Suddenly Benjamin shouted, “Alleluia, God is really great!”
At a loss for words, the skeptic Virgilio asked, “What…? Why…?
“God is greater than I thought,” Benjamin gushed, “Not only did he lead the whole nation of Israel into the Red sea. He also drowned the rampaging Egyptian Army of the pharaoh in merely five feet of water.”
Those were the times in youth. But Ah couldn’t find an answer to what prompted him to follow a well-trodden path leading to a House of God then simply known as Church of the Resurrection but now called Cathedral of the Resurrection.
He looked down at his gnarled hands, floundering on the thought that every person searches for a tiny hope to put his/her soul and mind at ease.
If it was Fr. Abad who was communing with Someone and found him in a boundless universe of kinship, then it was also Ah searching for echoes of the good lessons; that somewhere, there remains an indestructible, all-powerful and eternal Being, yet capable of gentleness.
Ah is humbled by experience that life is a good friend and, more, a good teacher, even when things fall apart.
Often, some events torment more than they ought; some torment before they ought and some torment when they ought not to torment at all.
Yet for this, Ah, having seen Fr. Abad in church, will forever be grateful that one day, long time ago, Fr. Abad gave unstintingly his blessing to become Ah’s godfather.
For it was Ah, the man who – on bended knees on the kneeling pad and facing the altar – was saying, “Father, where did all the love I’ve known, go? Father in my grief, I come to you.”