Thatch

Home away from home.

For most people in the settlement, this is what they call home.

When before they live freely, roaming the streets without fear.

Finding everything they need.

Where children can play. You hear laughter like no cares in the world.

Now, they live under protection.

Because some people decided a life for them.

Where fighting becomes normal everyday life.

Men become greedy with power.

That they forget that the world is not only for them but for all.

Out of fear.

They run.They fled. They cry.

That one day, their life will be back to the way it was.

In their own home.

In their own land.

On Becoming A Better Human Being

Yesterday I started sending messages to my friends in the Middle East wishing them “Ramadan Kareem” (which means Have a Generous Ramadan) despite all the sadness we hear in the news of Palestinian women, men and children being killed for wanting to return to their homeland and all the other countries at war now and of people being ostracized and killed for being different.

The month of Ramadhan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. So whoever sights [the new moon of] the month, let him fast it; and whoever is ill or on a journey – then an equal number of other days. Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship and [wants] for you to complete the period and to glorify Allah for that [to] which He has guided you; and perhaps you will be grateful.
[Quran 2:185]

The faithful continue to believe that all these shall pass and we will see a peaceful world. As Catholic, I also wish the same, and I think others too practicing other religions, wants a world where we can co-exist and enjoy the freedom to express who we are, what we believe and who we want to be.

***

Then I remembered a chapter in the book of the Dalai Lama talking about religion and how it can make us a better person.

We know that most of the crisis and war around the world are fought in the name of religion or the belief that that is what their gods believe they should do and gain their place in their heaven.

But many of us know that the teachings of the different religions (Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, and Hinduism) and other faith practices are towards peace, love, tolerance, acceptance of our differences and in fighting off excessive desires (in wealth and fame). And all of that is inert individual characteristics that we already possess. That is why, if we banded together, we would eventually win the war that is ravaging our world now.

According to the Dalai Lama, we can have philosophical and metaphysical views on religion at the same time live it according to your daily existence. But he also said that although the philosophical views differ and sometimes contradicts each other, in spiritual practice all religions are connected. They all recommend inner transformation of our stream of consciousness which will make us better, more devout people”.

True right? It all boils down to our understanding and accepting that we may have different faith beliefs, but we are similar on a spiritual level. Others may profess it outwardly, but it doesn’t mean they are more faithful than the others. It really depends on how you live it out, on how you’re spirituality makes you a better person for others.

Each one of us may believe in one way and one truth but it doesn’t mean that it is the same for the next person, we should be open to accepting the truth of other traditions even if it goes against our own convictions regardless of its reasons and how it affects others.

We as a person should have our own conviction but we should keep an open mind and be tolerant to those who don’t share them because that makes us different from each other but at the same time similar in a way that we accept each other to be like you — a person living each day trying to be a better person for others.

Postscript:

I am happy to say that all my friends who responded to my messages are all fine together with their families. They want us to remember them in our prayers and to keep up wanting for world PEACE!

Reading suggestion(s):

My Spiritual Autobiography His Hoiness The Dalai Lama

Meet My Roommate … Saint Mary Magdelene

Our family owns a life-size statue of Saint Mary Magdalene. We acquired her to be part of my village procession tradition every Holy Week. My family keeps her in my room 360 days and 5 days in the church each year.

Every Holy Wednesday, she’s taken out of the house to be cleaned, dressed, perfumed and put in her carriage to be surrounded by fresh flowers for the first procession. After that, for 5 nights, she will stay in the church among the other Saint statues that joins in all the parade until Easter Sunday.

Today is my Mom’s birthday too, forgoing a visit to the cemetery because today is also Holy Wednesday, our focus is on Magda, she’s gone to the church being prep for the evening processions. This year we made new gowns for her, after all, she’s been wearing her old dresses for over 10 years, it’s time for a change. Later in the night, after all the exhausting procession – pushing and carrying her “andas” people will flock to the house for a Thanksgiving dinner before fasting until Sabado de Gloria.

 

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Magda being prepped by my Aunt for the evening procession — the yellow dress is for Holy Wednesday (She will change dress for the Good Friday procession)

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Saint Mary Magdalene minus the fresh flowers, her cross and skull

But what do my family know about Mary Magdalene? We talk about her casually as if she’s a living person. We fondly call her Magda short for Magdalena (well as Filipino we’re fond of nicknames so living or not living she got one) when we’re planning for the Holy Week or about her new wardrobe. Regarding whether we know more about her life, I am pretty sure my family don’t know much 😊 just like me. So, I took the liberty to seek out information about Magda so my family and friends will know more about our in-house Saint whose been sharing my room for quite a while now.

 

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Saint Mary Magdalene feast day is on July 22nd, and she is believed to be the patron saint of women, of pharmacists and those fighting off temptations (and more).

Here are more stories about her St. Mary Magdalene HD and Smithsonian put together a clear description of her life in the article Who Was Mary Magdalene?

Saint Mary Magdalene, Magda to my family, is the perfect example of tolerance and inclusiveness amidst the persecution. Her story is very much real then as it is now.

She’s a Jewish woman living with the Gentiles that’s why they labelled her as a prostitute. But that is according to the interpretation of scholars because in the bible her not being with her fellow Jews ostracised her and tagged her as bad.

Much like today’s xenophobia, intolerance and discriminations happening all over the world. We separate people according to religion, race, and skin colour and we persecute people because one set of people feel superior to the others … a perfect example is the decade-long tensed situation between Israel and Palestine, which I witnessed first hand when I was there for a year.

It is true history repeats itself, and the worst part is we never learn from it. Many people use religion as a way to separate rather than to come together. The assumption that one race or colour is better than the others. When will we ever learn? I hope, that when we do we will achieve lasting peace everybody so desire especially in countries where religion is used to the extreme and uses the name of God, Allah, Buddha in vain

I guess we should as a family commemorate her feast day and pray for tolerance and peace and continue including her in our litany every night after the rosary. Afterall, Magda lives with us all year round and never complaining.