I am not a religious person. I cannot see myself doing things from dictates of catechism or ritual. For me, it is a waste of time and demands a lot of fakery from my part. I am fully aware that I cannot judge other people’s actions or beliefs. The fakery is a personal experience that I discovered within me when I tried religion as a way to learn more about the meaning of my existence. I would not say that I did not try because I did.
The expression of religiosity as a tool of communication to a Higher Being just short- circuited whatever lines I have with my God and everything becomes even more confusing to me, the moment I practiced religion. I was thinking about how to balance my month’s income in a café when I overheard an emotional conversation between two men.
I was not aware of what they were talking about but the sadness of their countenance caught my attention. I could not forget the words that rang in my ears that moment, and the sadness of the man’s word’s just stayed within me for a long time. “Daddy, if I could just die without this pain, I try to be brave. Jesus will take care of me, won’t He?”
The man sadly related to his companion. It would have been better that the man speaking cried, but he did not. He tried so hard to keep his emotion bundled up inside it made him looked even sadder. “Where is God?” I need him to take care of my Jimmy.” “I just can’t watch my son die so painfully, I could not stand it.”
I need to go away. As I turned to leave, I saw the tears come. Had it not glistened, I would not have noticed it. It was enough though. I took flight.The cold air that hit my face outside the café did not make my feelings any better. I felt heaviness in my heart. What I have witnessed and heard awhile back created various scenes in my mind. A very sick and dying boy, a desperate father, a God I could not figure out, desperate doctors perhaps trying to save a young life.
Or were they just prolonging the agony of the boy who will just die anyway? Crazy world, I thought. I got angry. Somebody’s playing God, but where is the real loving God of these strangers? And me, where is my God? Do the strangers and I have the same God? Can my God help the boy, too? Reality hit me that instant. Do I have a God?
I don’t practice religion nor do I have a practice form of prayer or worship. I reflect a lot and try to come up with acceptable and good deeds. I have a distinct concept between good and bad and maintain a principle that no one has any right to hurt, destroy, anyone just for the heck of it. All forms of actions should be justified and reasonable. But all these do not prove that I have a God. A being I would confront as the man in the café did in times of great desperation. I do not know why, but I got angry at what I have witnessed. There was fear in my heart too. I walked fast without direction. I felt a need to get away from that café. It brings so much sadness.
Surprisingly, the distance I made did not make any difference. I learned it was not the strangers with the dying child that I wanted to get away from. It was the uncomfortable feelings that suddenly build up inside me that I wanted to run away and I could not.
I am very confused of what happened to me. I never expected that listening to a couple of strangers would greatly affect me with a force so great it creates a turmoil within myself. My spirituality never bothered me before as it did now. I felt so vulnerable and that vulnerability made me so afraid. It seems that the protective shield I built around my life has suddenly shattered and exposed me to the mercy of the world.
I was in this form of thought as I pass by a shop that sells religious pictures and icons. A frame of the Last Supper displayed in the window caught my attention. I stopped and looked at the picture. I directed my gaze at the man who betrayed Jesus. He looked like a regular man to me. Just like the rest of the disciples as they were called. Maybe a hint of greed is depicted, but I never judge people by their looks. Judas Iscariot must have been the most unfortunate man born.
He was destined to be the traitor of the Son of God. If it were so, then it was not his own choice to be what he had been. God must have chosen Judas to be his conspirator. If this was so, was there a form of personal traits that God would base his choice? Was Judas Iscariot’s role in the life of Jesus in this world predestined?
Poor unlucky Judas, even if it was not his fault. My reflection over that picture of Jesus Christ and his friends did not help alleviate my discomfort. It worsens the irony of God’s kindness. Why a man would be dammed over his fate? If man is governed by what God will’s him to be,then everything that happens to him is not by choice. I cannot be responsible of what I am?
I can only be responsible of the things that I choose. I do not know but the more I think about my feelings, the more confused I become. I just continued walking. I feel that if I would not move, I would burst. I pass by a church. I could see that there is an activity inside. I went in and indeed there was a mass going on. There are only a few people attending.
The priest performedthe rituals very solemnly and the subdued lighting of the church made the ceremony very spiritual. I did not listen to what the priest said in the service. I just do not have the strength to focus on anything. I just want to feel the peace that seems to radiate from my surrounding. I watch the performance inside this church.
I am not part of it. I felt like a stranger. I wanted to get in touch with a Higher Power, a being everybody calls God. I wanted to find him in this church. Where can this God be this very moment? The thought of someone dying at a very young age made me search for my God. Suddenly, I feel a need to know and have an active relationship with my God. I am at as loss at where to find him.
I look around me and the multi colored shadows that fell on the marble floors of the church throws a strange impression inside. Maybe this is how one feels in the presence of God. I heard the priest said, “Let us make the sign of Peace.” I looked around me. People bowed to each other. Others shake hands. I observed that nobody smiled. They looked very grave. I thought, yes, they looked like they have peace inside.
They looked peaceful. How about me? I had peace before. Or maybe I should say, I am comfortable with my way of life until I am confronted with the possibility of death, everything went berserk. It is unfair. People die but I took it for granted that old people die, not the very young ones. Maybe they do. If young people could die too, what is the point of making them suffer?
At least, judging from what I have heard, the child is hurting so much. Maybe Jimmy had cancer. Was this a form of punishment? What is God’s purpose of making one so innocent suffer a very painful disease that would eventually take him to the grave. I am sure that this pain would only confuse Jimmy. That would be the name of the sick boy as I heard the man speak. If God is good, why allow someone suffer if he is too young to find the meaning of life in suffering? I do not know, how long d I stayed inside that church. Not for long, I presumed because a mass would take at least one hour and it had started when I get in.
My awareness came back in time the priest intoned, “…the mass has ended, go in peace!” The choir sang and people started moving. A few stayed and continued with whatever unfinished business they have with their God. I stayed. Some people hurried out, others linger and talked with the other worshippers. It seems to me I am the only one who looked lost. I felt that these people inside the church have found their God and have an active relationship with him. I was envious of their connection with their Supreme Being.
I need to find mine, but how? The moment I heard those strangers in the café, I realized that I have no relationship with my God. I have no God to ask my questions. I have no God to blame, to demand answers, to ask forgiveness from, to ask blessings, to ask for help, to seek for shelter and comfort as I have today. “…go in peace…,” the words reverberated in my mind. I will try, I told myself…”