Gently do I warn you that this post presents different levels. If it pleases you, choose the one that inspires you.
I have known my husband for thirty-eight years; the first ten of those were spent in getting to know each other, being friends, and developing a deeper friendship that led to being best of friends. This past Sunday we celebrated our 28th wedding anniversary. Part of our social life when he was in post graduate and I in graduate years was watching movies and having dinner on a Saturday. Now that our children are older, my husband and I are finding ourselves engaged in activities we enjoyed doing before marriage.
We had a great time! The second movie we watched was McFarland, USA. It left us an overall good feeling, a sense of awareness of realities outside our environment, and a calling to continue doing good beyond common boundaries. We were glad to have watched it last!
Dates are a treasure to my relationship with my husband. Special moments such as watching a good movie and having a meal in a restaurant are a time of enjoyment of God's gift of the moment. Because our wedding anniversary always falls on Lent, our celebration of it goes readily into my space of contemplation. I think about our marriage, our children, and about our life as a whole.
One thing I have learned in life is establishing a paradigm or model that helps me to see things through the lens of faith and teachings of our Church. Oftentimes, the paradigms I create revolve around my vocation as wife and mother. For instance, there is this simple lateral paradigm of priorities: God-Husband-children. God first. My husband next. Then my children. I also recognize our Church teaching that my husband and I are the main teachers of our children (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church #2223). Having understood that, I choose paradigms that help to solidify my role as mother and teacher. How do I do that? How is it done?
We are all broken somehow. Recognizing our brokenness is essential to our journey, so that we can allow the grace of God to work through us, to transform us. Part of our role is to read and study---to make room for growth. In our search of knowledge we understand better. Understanding leads to creating of stronger foundation. When one has a strong foundation, one will not be easily shaken (cf. Matthew 7:24-27).
Here is a paradigm that I use for my children's curriculum. The more I use it, the more I see that this paradigm can be used for almost anything, e.g., watching a good movie, being engaged in a project, working with others, etc. Called Observation-Comprehension-Synthesis, it can be used in our Lenten journey, reading of Scripture, this Holy Week through Easter Triduum, and Easter Sunday---then beyond.
Observation: Key word: senses. In observation, we use the five senses: sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. As we know, these are functions of the body through the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and hands---portals of our body---that make us aware of what is around us and what is happening. This includes color, texture, movements, living beings, etc. All that the body takes in through the body parts go into our hearts and minds.
Comprehension: Key word: understanding. In comprehension, we use the different aspects of the activity, movie, or book. These aspects are: persons or characters, images used, plot, events that took place. These so-called aspects are used to understand each segment, chapter, different phases of a project, etc. This is when we begin to understand that the story or event is about friendship, adventure, struggles, or love.
Synthesis: Key word: judgement. In synthesis, we gather all information and bring them to a pool where we can see the bigger picture. Here is where we can make sense of the whole story or experience; then we put them into words according to our enriched understanding of it. So here is where we relate the story or experience with others, adding what we have learned.
The entire process, when used frequently, will help to build a better foundation.
Two things: First, with this paradigm---Observation-Comprehension-Synthesis---I am able to appreciate my husband in my life more. I watch him and all he does: the many ways he cares for me (Observation) and understand that his love for me grows (Comprehension). Seeing the whole picture, I see both of us growing in love for one another by doing more things with and for one another, as we uphold the teachings of our Church on marriage (Synthesis). Second, the movie McFarland, USA parades realities of manual labor, struggles in the field, and brokenness in relationships (Observation to Comprehension). We take all these in and we understand what people do to either get by or to keep the family together; and, what can be done to raise awareness of the dignity of the person (Synthesis).
Try this paradigm if you will. This Holy Week presents to us wonders of Jesus' struggles in the final stage of his ministry on earth. Listen. Listen to the stories carefully. Observe. Comprehend. Synthesize. (Newly added: Read entering into the mystery of the Easter Triduum by Pope Francis.) The process, believe me, will keep anyone from just drifting into the waves that life throws to our direction; in fact, it will bring more meaning to the gift of life that was wonderfully crafted by God for us (Psalm 139:14). Someone said that life is too short. I say, live each moment to the full (St. Irenaeus).
By Easter Almuena, MPT
Copyright © 2015 Easter Almuena
I thought I'd start this blog by sharing with you one of over a hundred poems I'd written within the span of three decades. Many of which were published in my book Serving God Joyfully, Right Here in Hawai'i or in the Hawaii Catholic Herald. The latter has been publishing some of my poems for ten years now. Please note that they were all inspired by the One who loves us the most.
A sense of eerie feeling pervaded the Pacific beach before the first ray of light is cast upon the darkness of the evening. It couldn't have been 8 p.m. Slowly yet steadily, the clouds sauntered away to make room for a whitish moon cake. Looking gentle and serene, the presence of this majestic moon succeeded in calming the face of the earth with its faint light.
Let's go! For we could now see the shimmering light upon the vast ocean. So dash we dared to the kayaks, feeling the exhilaration rushing through our veins. We proceeded to the ocean deep... for moonlight paddling.
In that journey three families and a visiting priest from Africa had a glimpse of eternity.
Bourn out of this most memorable experience is a poem I wrote. This poem is published on the 2014 October 10th issue of the Hawaii Catholic Herald.
By Easter Almuena
Moon cake of light gold crusting
Marking the eerie dark of the night
With a taste of quaint entrance
As if mocking the daylight turn
Rush to the kayaks!
We keiki of the morning light
Who dive into the Pacific in beats
Of pounding hearts and vigilant eyes
Arms move to the rhythm of paddles
With movements of incandescence
Below in silence, moon meets moon
With moon maker in shadow crest
Copyright © 2014 Easter Almuena
All rights reserved.
(Moonlight paddling took place on September 9, 2014.)
Welcome to my blog!
May you find here a spark of wonder and awe for the Beloved. He is the reason for the sauntering of the heart and mind for the divine. May this place be not just a reverie, but a time of prayer, of connecting, and of praise for the One who loves us most dearly.