It’s the last week before Christmas, and here in the Philippines it feels even less Christmas-y the more you tune in to the news. Typhoon Sendong has left at least 650 people dead and hundreds more injured or missing, and I saw on Twitter last night that Sendong seems to be worse for the people of Iligan and Cagayan de Oro than Ondoy had been for Metro Manila.
A few days to go before Christmas, and people are dead, dying, wounded, missing, grieving, homeless. Where is Christmas there?
Maybe Christmas can be found in us coming together for the victims of Sendong. Maybe we are being called to show others the true meaning of Christmas by letting go of our plans, letting go of some of what we have, and sharing those to others in need. The first Christmas, after all, was marked by people who followed a star to bear gifts for a child in a manger. Maybe the victims of Sendong are our children in the manger, and maybe we are being asked to follow the Star of Generosity to bear gifts for them.
Maybe Christmas this year is meant to be different from the rest, and maybe we are being asked to direct our attention outward, instead of toward ourselves, our families, and the traditional notion of gift-giving.
I’ve also been noticing a lot of news about a purported leadership coup in the Senate. My advice to our lawmakers (and even to the media who make it seem a larger issue than it really is): Let go! The country has more serious issues than that, really now.
I’m also thinking about a lot of my own issues, worries, and fears. I’ve been so anxious and so caught up with my internal dilemma/s that I haven’t been able to focus on the graver things happening all around me. Let go, I’m telling myself. Maybe I’ll feel better (like I always do) if I direct my attention outward. I’ve got closets that are waiting to be cleaned, books that are waiting to be given away. Instead of giving those clothes to the vintage sale, I’ll give them for Sendong relief operations. And the books? There will be some very happy libraries (and children!) once I’ve disposed of them.
Let go. LET GO. Let go of anger, hatred, fear, selfishness, pride… Let go of how things used to be and enter the Christmas week with new lenses, new perspectives, and even renewed hope and faith. Let go of the past; embrace the future. Let go of certainty; embrace change. Let go of the old ways and let new habits come in. Who knows what gifts of the Spirit await us after that?
P.S. Kaya Natin! and the Ateneo School of Government are accepting donations for Typhoon Sendong victims from 10AM to 10PM, today through Wednesday. All those who want to help may proceed to the Fr. Ortiz Hall, Social Development Complex, Ateneo de Manila University campus, Loyola Height, Quezon City. Please help spread the word. You may also donate to the Philippine Red Cross by typing “RED ” then send to 2899 on your Globe phones. It’s super hassle-free, and you can do it as often as you like. Let go and let goodness in.