But being part of the Columban family has given me fresh eyes and a renewed sense of optimism. It’s like slowly letting the sun shine in through the window after years of being adamant in keeping them shut. Soon enough, I’d be able to stand in front of it and wave to the world outside. Despite my qualms about the Church in general, I love working in a place whose beliefs are aligned with my own. I especially enjoy being surrounded by people who challenges me to rethink my standpoint in life.
Waving Through a Window
by Daniella Clemente
When I was young, I was the troublesome child who hates going to Mass because of my impatient nature. I couldn’t sit still and focus on the homily, and that behavior continued on beyond my teenage years. Furthermore, my high school years marked a huge shift in my spirituality. I decided that I do not believe in religion. To me, it’s merely a fad. Since the beginning of time, religions rose and fell. The practices differ, the beliefs vary in one way or another and the image of a divine being changes. But there will always be a grain of similarity among all these belief systems. I still find myself open to the idea that a God probably exists, because how else can one explain the wonders of the world?
It is ironic then, that my first job fresh out of college would be with a religious society. I’ve been working as the assistant editor of the Columban Publications of the Missionary Society of St. Columban for more than a month now.
Adjusting to people and a new environment has always been difficult for me. So, I dreaded the day of my first retreat with the staff of the Columban Mission house. Being new to the group, I have yet to form any kind of friendship among my colleagues. I should have known not to let my fears get the best of me because going on a trip with them, away from the usual noise of the city, proved to be a memory I’d cherish forever.
The Columban Mission house staff and co-workers at CELL, Silang, Cavite on May 8, 2019
We came to the Center for Ecozoic Living and Learning in Silang (CELL), Cavite where the air is crisp and the sight of green extends for as far as the eye can see. Fr. Louie Ybañez, SSC presided over the activities set for the day by starting off with games meant to bring out the different behaviors and tendencies we have in a specific situation. Right off the bat, I noticed the contrast in our personalities by the way we participated in the game and the kind of lessons we picked-up from the activity. More importantly, I was able to see how much faith and spirituality influence the mentality and behavior of my co-workers.
Our last activity required introspection, as we scattered ourselves all over the area to pray alone and later on bring back an item that represented ourselves. I prayed for clarity and was hoping I did it right. I found it hard to share about myself because I’m the kind of person who’s afraid to be vulnerable and be seen as someone frail and delicate. Yet, it was an amazing experience to see other people bare themselves for all the world to see, to put so much of their emotions on display without shame and regret. They have learned to carry on the good fight with the help of their faith. Each and every one of them has been carrying their own personal cross yet they remain generous with smiles, kind words and genuine affection. I’m glad to be at the receiving end of these and I hope to reciprocate them for the days to come.
I used to scoff at the idea of leaning on a God for strength. It disgusts me how most people only view Him as if he is a genie to turn to when they need something. I thought all the rules and practices are unnecessary for a personal relationship with Him. These are only some of the reasons why I’d like to distance myself from practicing religion. I thought it’s primary use is to fulfill humankind’s need to look up to something, to know there is purpose to their existence. But being part of the Columban family has given me fresh eyes and a renewed sense of optimism. It’s like slowly letting the sun shine in through the window after years of being adamant in keeping them shut. Soon enough, I’d be able to stand in front of it and wave to the world outside. Despite my qualms about the Church in general, I love working in a place whose beliefs are aligned with my own. I especially enjoy being surrounded by people who challenges me to rethink my standpoint in life.
Out to Tagaytay after the retreat – strengthening bonds of friendship!!!
Thanks for two beautiful days!!!