Thursday, April 13, 2017

Prayers by the roadside

It's Maundy Thursday, the start of the long Lenten break, which for someone working the kind of work that we do, would be the only long holiday open for us for the rest of the year.  That's why, everyone was so excited as we rushed out to help put to bed the newspaper copy last night. Everyone trying his best to keep his cool, to keep his/her mind in focus because the spirit was already rushing out the door, getting inside the elevator in a hurry to get out of the building fast to the life of untrammeled joy and freedom outside.
I merely stayed in my place. I was thinking if I had only bought that ticket, maybe, I would also be rushing home, too. Rushing to the airport to catch the plane to where the heart belongs. But I did not have such a ticket.  So, all I have is the long hours of reading and writing open for me for the long weekend.
When I reached our street, it was already 9 pm, and the vehicle I was riding could no longer get inside because the neighbors had already set up tents outside their homes--yes, tents along the roadsides, and I thought,  is this another vigil for another funeral?  But no. The tent was only for the gathering of people for the prayers to the Jesus of Nazarene,  the cross-carrying image of Christ. I was amazed by the people's observance of the Passion here. It also reminds me how, a year ago, back home in B'la, while Pa was struggling with his ailment, and I still languished in bed to recover from the previous night's late sleep, Ja tried to shake me awake because the procession was already passing by the house. He said the procession was an amazing sight, I should see it, I should at least photograph it. "I thought you wanted to be a real, hardnosed photographer? What kind of a photographer are you? You lie there sleeping while a beautiful event passes you by!" I got the mouthful from Ja while I flitted in and out of dreamland.
When I managed to get up, I only caught the tail of the procession at the end of the road, and I saw an open air altar by the roadside.  Ja shrugged.  But the sight of an open air altar amazed me because it reminded me of the pagan ways. It reminded me of some faraway Greek altars when the world was young. It also reminded me of
the Bagobo altar tambara. I loved that concept of an altar because it lays itself bare and open to the elements. Most of all, it opens itself up to the skies.

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