America recently celebrated the 4th of July national holiday, the country’s 241st Independence Day, and at the same day, I also celebrated another birthday. This summer holiday started with a thanksgiving mass, followed by our annual family get-together with close friends, centering on lots of food that could last for days after the party!
After 40 plus years in this country, there are more reasons to be grateful whenever this 4th of July holiday-birthday arrives. Please allow to me to be more personal, by sharing some innermost thoughts with you, dear readers.
Two charter members — Felix Puno Lapuz, D.V.M. and Celly Ferraren Adamo — of our GK eRotary Club that I founded have recently passed away. And today as I write this column to remember and honor them, another wonderful member, Emma Yambao Tiebens is now on hospice care for her serious battle against cancer, and at God’s appointed time may also join her Creator.
All these three dear friends whom I have personally sponsored into Rotary have made me very melancholic and quite nostalgic. In my solitude, I found myself reflecting my own mortality which led me to scribble this unusual alphabet-column with 26 personal reasons why I am so grateful having reached this stage of my life. When you dear readers, are fortunate enough to have reached that “senior citizen” status, you may also relate to any of my reasons why I am indeed blessed. Read on:
A – for ALMIGHTY God, the ALPHA of all things, and my adopted country, AMERICA that have given me many opportunities to achieve my dreams and live a meaningful life. Doing my best over a half a century, the Lord has blessed me with everything, especially my family, work and ministry in helping others, as long as I am able to till the end of life.
B – for BEAUTIFUL BABIES — granddaughters Sofie and Olivia, who are the BEST and most precious BLESSINGS to our family, who are making us very active and happy. They are making our “Apos-tolic” days go very fast whenever they are around.
C – for CHURCH that CHRIST established that has enabled me to carry my own CROSS every time I reflect upon His own sufferings and CRUCIFIXION with the hope to be also with Him one day.
D – for countless DREAMS that I have had, many of them have been realized through personal sweat and DETERMINATION.
E – for EARTH and ENVIRONMENT where our daily food that we eat and the air we breathe come from.
F – for my FAITH in the goodness of life, without which life will be without meaning and purpose, coupled with ample FINANCES that enable us the FREEDOM to do what we want without borrowing money while we are alive and kicking.
G – for GARDEN and its GIFTS — flowers, fruits and joy — that are derived from it. Witnessing the daily metamorphosis happening around my garden are silent manifestations and subtle reminders that there is an indeed an awesome Power, greater than ourselves.
H – for HEALTH and a happy HOME, the most beautiful nest and strongest cradle of all families where love and peace reside.
I – for both INDEPENDENCE AND INTERDEPENDENCE that nurture our freedom that are vital to reach our greatest potential in the pursuit of happiness in our lives. The political noise, the childish arrogant tweets, the selfish and narrow-mindedness of so many politicians that threaten to destroy the America that we all know as envisioned and built by the founding Fathers. We must never allow our freedom to be trampled by our so-called leaders who have a different vision. We must fight for them as those gallant men and women who paid dearly with their own lives, so that our children and their children can also can enjoy the same freedom we have now.
J – for life’s JOURNEYS and JOYS and the concomitant excitement that we have experienced so far and with God’s blessings more journeys to come.
K – for KNOWLEDGE of right and wrong and the wisdom that is accumulated with every human endeavor that we do.
L – for LIFE itself, filled with LOVE. What else is needed?
M – for MIRACLES and MEANING that come with a fulfilled life.
N – for NATURE around us: mountains and parks, forest and open spaces, lakes and seas.
0 – for Pacific OCEAN, minutes away from home, and the rejuvenating cool breeze it creates that dissipates all anxieties of life.
P – for PEACE of mind and all the fruits that emanate comes from it.
Q – for our QUEEN MARY (Blessed Virgin Mother), who is honored by million devotees chosen by God, to be Jesus’ mother. Another QUEEN Mary, a popular tourist attraction ship, docked in Long Beach, California, is also the weekly venue of the Long Beach Rotary Club meetings every Wednesday where I attend occasionally. (Who is interested to join me for lunch there? Incentive: With the Rotary lunch, there is no more need to buy the expensive QM admission and parking fees!)
R – for spiritual RETREATS that always inspire me to ponder, “What is life?” and meditate what truly matters most in my life? R is also for ROTARY, an organization that I love simply because it magnifies our “Service Above Self” work in helping and empowering others in the world, in conjunction with over 1.25 million fellow Rotarians.
S – for SALT of the earth. Without it, life will be without taste and flavor.
T - for TIME, TALENTS and TREASURES that must be shared with others.
U – for UNDERSTANDING and accepting that all of us will one day die. Wherever we enter that UNIVERSITY of Hard Knocks, it behooves us to realize the fragility or futility of our lives, if not anchored on values that matter most.
V – for VACATION that almost always rejuvenates our tired bodies and recharges our weary spirits.
W – for WORK that is essential to live and become useful globalcitizens. We must also use our God given resources and talents to help us do and WRITE our humanitarian work everyday.
X – for that X-RAY instrument that others will utilize to examine the real person we really are, that can reveal the true contents of the little (-) hyphen that separates the year of our birth and the year of our death carved in our tombstone.
Y – for YESTERDAY. When yesterday is gone, it is gone forever. So we must live the best we can do today, as tomorrow may never come.
Z – for ground ZERO, where we will eventually be when we die. As it is written, “From dust we came from and unto dust we shall return” any day. Are we ready? Did we reach our own Mt. ZION that we dreamt about? No one knows when but God! Just be ready!
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