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Lent in a Philippine Island from the Writing Collection of Elizabeth Padillo Olesen, Denmark

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Elizabeth Padillo Olesen, Denmark


Lent in a Philippine Island

Dear Christ,

There has been no rain in my home island since the advent of your Lenten season. It is so hot as seen by the dusty roads and the sad plants on the clay pots,the green grasses slowly turned brown,the lonely noontime that marks people`s short nap, and the shadows of the coconut trees that promise a good shade from the Lenten heat.

Waters from the wells which we drink are now getting saline. Soon people from the mainland will come to sell their fresh water by cans and plastic jars.Water tank owners rejoice over this hot Lenten Season because rain water from the water tanks will now be sold at a higher price,though rain is your free gift for us all. Rain water is preferred to groundwater from the wells because it tastes sweeter and can quench the islanders`thirst during Lent.Water from the wells turn salty during these hot Lenten days.

In few more days, the usual scene through all the years will be seen again,the re-enactment of what happened to you many years ago. And the brave volunteer of the year will have to go through the physical pain as he is paraded on the road,beaten carrying a cross, groaning as the beatings leave bleeding wounds on his skin. And the inquisitive children who follow him either share the pain in pity or react in innocent laughter over what seems to be a sheer comedy.

There`s going to be a long procession in today`s usual holy Friday,dear Christ, and the people, barefooted will walk on the hot roads followed by sentimental music that cannot help but touch the devotees to weep and weep loudly as if the flood of tears can best measure the value of a lost treasure that is you.

How long shall we weep over your weakness? How long shall we look at you as the weak hero who merely summons our guilt,and whom we think, can be appeased only by a display of our sorrowful faces till your burial place?

Why did you have to die, Christ, my insides are asking. If it is only to leave in our cultural value of debt of gratitude (utang na loob), that solicits a sacrificial payment from our side in the form of service for you, why do we have to go through a deep mourning for you when we know that you are going to resurrect anyway as the Lord of Life?

Forgive me,but sometimes I feel being cheated by you. And I see these honest devotees cheated,too, by this simple drama in your life highlighted during these Lenten days.

However, when I remember you on the cross bidding brother John to look at the crying woman, and the crying woman to look at John,I see your dying not really meant for you, our mourning not really meant to be a mourning over your dying but rather a mourning over our own deaths--your people`s wounds. I am simply amazed that it takes a Lord, you Christ, to open us to the reality of our people`s wounds and deaths with your call that we do something for people`s dying because you have given your life in order that we all may live.

Christ, make yourself much real now. As the celebration of Lenten season is highlighted by the traditional processions of too many people, dramatizing to bury your dead body to the grave like the traditional service we render to a beloved friend and relative, let this be a procession, instead, of committeed people, willing to break the graves where you`re buried or have been buried - where thirst, hunger, disease and poverty thrive, where justice or freedom is denied, where sorrow, fear, despair, hate,hopelessness and deaths loom in darkness.

Call us rather to weep over these graves, your grave - which is ours and that of your people. And grant that such a weeping may lead us into a form of cleansing,renewal and commitment to lay open these graves like in your resurrection.

Sincerely yours,


Context of the Reflection: My Home Island in the Philippines, the fishing island of Hingotanan, Bohol.

Lent on a Chaplaincy Service
Faith, Church Life and Ministry
A Call Upon the Lord

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FromComment about document or authorResponse CountryResponse Added
Elizabeth Padillo OlesenThanks, Masha, for your response to this. Now Lent is again within our calendar this year! And I want to offer this as a reflection when the day comes. Denmark2/11/2012 4:24:37 AM
Elizabeth Padillo OlesenMasha,thank you very much for your positive response to this write-up. If you happened to visit the Philippines and experienced the Holy Friday where the brave volunteers who after having fasted for 40 days go through the reenactment of what Jesus went through, that is, being crucified with nailed hands and feet, then you will understand why I am raising a strong comment against it. Christianity is not mere sentimentalism. Denmark6/11/2010 5:07:30 PM
mashathis is great. very real!thailand6/9/2010 10:59:33 AM
Thanks, Thelma. Have a good day. It's been a very warm day here in Denmark, reminding me a bit of a Lenten noontime in an island in the Philippines. Take care. 6/2/2010 3:24:03 PM
thelmaElizabeth such a deserving win I congratulate you! 6/2/2010 8:30:40 AM
Dear Marcia, Nancy and Dr. Sudarsan, thank you so much for your comments. You have been so faithful here and so kind in giving your inspirational remarks. I am sorry I could not respond earlier. The whole month of June is a busy month for me as the school year is ending. Our last school day is the 26th of June. I look forward to the holiday when I can sit down longer and write thoughts and stories.Now summer has started. Enjoy the bright rays of the sun. 6/1/2010 4:56:15 PM
drsudarsan prasadCongratulations Liz, I am very very happy. The saga of your poor people ,very nicely narrated ,with a lot of depth, feeling and above all with the touchstone of Faith. Well deserved and Keep it up!India6/1/2010 4:18:22 AM
Nancy Ellen CrosslandElizabeth, I always enjoy your writings, as you touch upon issues that affect the world stressing the human spirit. This is truly wonderful and a winner. Beautiful concept, expressive and heartfelt. Congratulations Elizabeth!USA5/31/2010 6:20:42 PM
Marcia SchechingerElizabeth P congratulations on your win! You have given us an inspiring spiritual document to reflect upon. As you lead us through a country of drought and the political issues of greed that makes one question Christ's humanity. Yet within your writing Christ speaks, as you bring the realism of those unfortunate before us, so as the world can pray together as one. In that the prayers might rise in unison to make a better world for all in need. Thank you for sharing this doc, may be all be better people for it. CONGRATULATIONS AGAIN! :) USA5/31/2010 3:08:29 PM
Thank you very much for declaring this as a winning write-up for the month of April. I am very pleased and honored. This gives me more the inspiration to write...5/31/2010 1:56:00 PM
Elizabeth Padillo OlesenThanks for your wisdom, Dr. Sudarsan. I am very happy to read your comments on my postings here. Very much appreciated. Happy Easter to you. May this Easter time bring us to the path of good, of "Lasting Good". Denmark4/4/2010 3:08:54 PM
drsudarsan prasadAnguish and the passionate language is only natural when you feel for others. I remember a saying " When You help a person in need , you are indeed helping yourself, for misery exits to stir your compassion and humane values to propel you - into the path of Good - Lasting Good ! Neither God Nor the poor man owes you anything ! " Happy Easter Liz!India4/4/2010 3:11:49 AM
Thanks, Thinagaran Manuel for responding. I am with you to say that Jesus never fails. But often we fail in removing the stones or graves that bury and destroy our own people.4/3/2010 4:48:01 AM

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