Tag Archive | solitude

Saturday Morning in a Coffee Shop

I sit here now, alone but not lonely, and I feel like I’m part of a different world, one that is lightyears away from the world I can see through the glass wall beside me. I’m supposed to be studying, thinking about Jack and his imbalances and the different ways to treat him, but instead I’m lost in the music from the stereo and the calmness of my solitude. It has been so, so long since I’ve had time to simply relax and listen to my thoughts. So I wander in the meandering pathways of my mind, seeking out the subtle twists and secret corners. And I find, for the first time in a long while, that I am no longer afraid of what I might discover.This freedom, this peace with myself and my God that I found last summer is the sweetest, most beautiful joy I have ever experienced. Even the thrill of being in love cannot surpass this exhiliration, this wonderful feeling of being vulnerable yet secure, unmasked and accepted. Like a golden sunrise chasing away memories of the past night’s desolation, I can feel the incredible tenderness of Jesus melting the walls of guilt and shame in my heart. How I lived for so long without this intimacy with my Savior is beyond me, but now that I have found it, I never, never want to lose it again. How amazing that only when I surrendered did I finally become free.

As I linger in the privacy of my thoughts, the other tables around me are filling up with people. Conversations mingle with the music and disturb the stillness that surrounded me a while ago. I can feel the sun grow warmer through the glass wall and the street outside become busier as people hurry about their business. When I leave here, I will get caught up in the city’s pace once more. But the peace in my heart is constant, a gift of grace that has no season. The choice to surrender is costly, but the reward is far greater than its price. It is the soul-deep assurance that no matter what happens today, next week, and in all the years to come, my identity is secure. To have this healing truth move from my mind to the depths of my soul is one of the most unforgettable legacies of last summer. The encounter with grace has changed my life, and my moments of solitude, like this morning, have become celebrations of a soul restored, a mind renewed and a heart made whole.



Sidewalk Strangers Seen Through the Glass Wall of a Restaurant

  • A tall white man and a slender, dusky, petite Filipina beauty together. I wonder what it’s like for each of them. An adventure, a taste of the exotic? A tropical dalliance? Need, perhaps? Dreams of a better life? It could be any of these, but the romantic in me wonders: could it possibly, conceivably be love?
  • Two laughing young girls with long hair and eyes yet untouched by self-consciousness. They walk hand-in-hand, linked by the secrets they share and the youthful, irrepressible assurance that they will be “friends forever”. The sight of them evokes such nostalgia. How I wish I could freeze time for a while and let them stay in their world a bit longer. The years pass swiftly, however, and young girls inevitably grow up. But for now, right now, they are here, and they are magical.
  • A woman and a boy, mother and son perhaps, on an errand that worries them both. She leans on him with her hand on his shoulder, and both of them look tired. The midday heat has drawn beads of perspiration from their foreheads, but they plod on, unwilling or unable to pay for a ride. Where are they going and what do they need? Only a few centimeters of glass separate us, but I might as well be miles away, for I do not step out and ask them. I wonder – are the invisible, protective barriers we create between ourselves and others worth the alienation from our own kind?
  • A stunning young woman strolling by herself. Perfect hair, perfect complexion, perfect clothes. How many people take the time to look deeper and see if her life is as flawless as it seems? Too often the envy in us blinds us to the person behind the image, the need behind the confidence. I have no doubt that she will meet many people today who will either furtively or openly scrutinize her looks. Will she find one person, I wonder, who will simply look into her eyes and offer a smile?


Not-so-secret Garden

It’s 11:52 am, and I am sitting here alone in a gazebo in the PSU botanical garden. I should be having lunch with my friends right now, talking and laughing in the canteen, surrounded by other students. But I needed this respite; I needed these precious moments of solitude.  And when faced with a choice between food for the body and food for the soul, the answer is always the same. I am perfectly content to be where I am right now.

It is beautiful here; everywhere I look I see the hand of the great Artist. Palawan is always spectacular in June, but this year everything seemed more amazing, different somehow. Or maybe the change is in me, maybe I have learned to see more clearly now. I don’t really know, and for this moment, it doesn’t seem to matter.

I look around me, and I am filled with a wonder, a joy I cannot possibly express in words. Bliss, perhaps, is closest to what I am feeling right now. There are flowers everywhere, in every color. The cool rains have woken them up from their sleep, and they have never seemed lovelier to me. Yellowbells, hibiscus, bougainvillas, zinnias, periwinkles, orchids, and a dozen others I cannot name. The fire trees, laden with blossoms, lift up their dazzling red flowers to the soft blue of the sky. Scattered on the ground beneath the branches are the fallen petals – still colorful, still striking. Even in death, there is beauty, there is poetry, they seem to say. However, it is the unobtrusive simplicity of the gardenias that capture my attention the most. A long row of bushes lining the pathway has burst into bloom, and the glossy, dark green leaves seem to offer the pure white flowers as a gift. Their captivating scent floats through the garden, giving the breeze a sweetness that makes me want to dream and dream and dream….

It is easy to fall asleep here, easy to rest. The garden grows on a low hill overlooking the sea, which glistens joyfully in the sun, as if like me, it is glad that it is June once again. The waves break gently on the shore, weaving a hypnotic melody that only those who listen closely can understand. Mesmerized by the music, I lift up my eyes to the mountains in the distance. Dark blue and enigmatic, they whisper secrets to the clouds while sunlight and shadow play on their shoulders. Surrounded by such loveliness, I cannot keep myself from I thinking: Can there be any other place more alive?

In a few minutes, I shall have to leave. Once again, I will be caught up in the world of classes, responsibilities, work, relationships. Not necessarily a bad world, but different from this serenity, and at times hurtful and confusing. But I know that these past few moments have strengthened me. There is healing in the garden, in solitude, in communion with my true Love. In the breeze I can almost hear Him whisper, See, I love you. Do you not know that? Here in the garden or there in the crowd, I am with you. Even when the flowers and the fragrances fade, I will be your peace. Always.

You see, that is what I really  needed. To hear Him. More than the solitude, more than the loveliness, I craved His voice. In the busyness, in the crazy rush of daily life, I sometimes forget to listen. So I come here to reconnect. And always – always – I find Him waiting.


1:30pm in the Botanical Garden

Somebody behind me is playing the guitar. As I sit here on the steps leading to the sea, I can’t help but wonder about him. Who could he be? We are perfect strangers. His music is everything I know about him, and from this angle, I know that he can’t even see my face. Perhaps he isn’t even looking at me. On a day like this – a day of flowers, sea breezes and sunlight – why would he waste his time looking at a stranger? But he captures me. His melodies are beautiful and profound*, and he makes the moment perfect. How I wish I could stay here all day.

*One of his songs was “I Could Sing of Your Love Forever”.