My definition of summer over here goes roughly like this; the temperature goes from being bloody hot to unbearably hot. One way of being sure that summer has truly arrived is when you meet and talk to the locals. Every conversation is preceded by the obligatory wipe of the forehead with a large towel that they all seem to manage to secrete somewhere on their person, and begins with the salutation “init!” (hot!).
Over the years, as Thess worked hard to instill this ethos into her own children but she discovered, like we all have, that the world had changed in what seemed like a blink of the eye. Holy Week no longer holds the mystique and mystery, for this generation that it once had for our generation. For many Holy Week is now seen as merely an opportunity to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life and to head for the resorts and beaches of this beautiful country. In my mind; that seems like a pretty damn good activity to be indulging in when the mercury climbs through the roof.
“So, sweetheart,” I asked, arching one eyebrow in a not so subtle suggestion, “just what do we plan to do with our Holy Week?” Her answer was not quite the one I was hoping for, but then “hope springs eternal”. Her suggestion was that we tour some Churches and undertake a Catholic tradition called: “The Stations of the Cross.” Now as regular readers will know, I’m not Catholic, but I will always respect and honor Thess’ faith and beliefs. I love the woman – and that includes everything she believes in and holds dear. To do otherwise; in my opinion, would be to make my love conditional – and I don’t do conditional! What she had in mind was to link up with our daughter-in-law who was also stuck in Manila with her three children and we would tour seven different churches in seven different towns in Rizal Province; performing two of the “Stations of the Cross” at each Church. It seemed like a reasonable proposition, especially since the car is air-conditioned, and I do love touring the old Churches in this country. Since it seemed a pretty good way to get out of town for a day; I readily agreed.
Firstly; I was thrilled to see that although the times they are a changing, plenty of families were still on the same pilgrimage as we were. There were still thousands of people touring around visiting the Churches on this boiling hot Maundy Thursday. It was clear that, for some, eschewing the beach for the more thoughtful and reflective task of remembering their faith was still in vogue. I noticed that families were using this opportunity to bond and to spend time together – a truly worthy activity. Although this was an opportunity to reinforce their faith they didn’t let it stand in the way of enjoying each other’s company. There was much laughter and merriment accompanying the fulfillment of “The Stations of the Cross”. The children, as children always do, just saw it as an opportunity to run, to jump and to play – and nobody cared that they were enjoying themselves. There were very few “negative” people in sight.
Would I rather have been on Lagundian Beach with the children – maybe, but I thank my beautiful wife for her excellent idea to take a break from everyday routine and just reflect on how lucky we are and what a wonderful life we now have. Thank you darling – you were right; AS ALWAYS!
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