Sunday, November 16, 2008

heartbeats: rear view mirrors

Not knowing how to drive and having only a minimal knowledge on the rules of driving I never got to know the importance of rear view mirrors until an incident three years ago. I once rode a car driven by a friend which has no rear view mirrors on it. We were happily driving and talking when all of a sudden just as we were about to overtake a loud thump jolted the car leading my friend to scamper for the brake pedal. We were bumped by another car which smashed a door all because my driver friend did not see what was coming up from behind him when he was about to overtake. 

 The culprit for this minor damage and major embarrassment in the middle of the city streets was: we have no rear view mirrors. From this hair rising incident I learned the importance of rear view mirrors. They make us see what’s happening at the back of the car. They make us see what is happpening behing us. And these rear view mirrorsare used not just when the driver decides to back-off - indi lamang sa pag-isol sang salakyan but rear view mirrors are also necessary for moving forward smoothly lest we drive forgetting what’s going behind us and risk ourselves being bumped upon and stopped unnecessarily like what happened to me and a friend three years ago.

Rear view mirrors are also needed in life. They are needed so that we could move forward in life. We call these rear view mirrors our memories, reflections and recollections and they are important for correct living.

People who have short memories of the past are in great danger of loosing their identity. People who are not reflective most often get their visions blurred and in the process get lost in life. People who don’t have rear view mirrors most often get discouraged when difficulties come. Take for example the Israelites in our first reading today. Upon reaching the promised land they sent spies to scout the land. When they returned they reported that true indeed it was a land flowing with milk and honey, so many fruits, and the land was gleaming with produce but they said, but they were inhabited by powerful peoples, even giants, living in fortified cities. 

 The Israelites upon hearing these reports were discouraged and they wailed out loud blaming God and Moses for the misfortune that befell them. They have gone through a grueling desert experience, they have risked their lives all the way thinking that they would live bounteously for the years to come, but when they arrived on the land promised them they found out that they could not own it for themselves. And so they kept on blaming God. Why why why. For this they were punished by God and for forty years they will roam the desert as a punishment. 

And why were they punished? Why were the Israelites punished despite a very valid complaint? They were punished because they have no rear view mirrors. They forgot to look back and reflect that if God freed them in the past from the powerful Egyptians, and fed them in their sojourn in the desert vanquishing their enemies at every turn, could he not possibly do more marvelous things for them by vanquishing their enemies before them so that they could claim the land as their own? But Israel failed to look back. Ginbuhat na gid sa ila right before their very eyes how God was so powerful, and yet they forgot all these and they became terrified and distrustful. The Israelites forgot to look at their rear view mirrors, they failed to look back, to reflect, to recollect. They forgot how God saved them and took them as in eagles wings.

My dear brothers and sisters life would be hard for us too if we fail to remember and use our rear view mirrors. We have to make it a habit to reflect on our past, our roots, the times we failed and were forgiven, the times we triumphed when we held on believing in ourselves and in God. Rear view mirrors keep us in touch with the golden thread that runs through our lives. The golden thread which is the saving presence of God that runs through our lives. We need this lest we fall into the trap of despair and hopelessness, lest we be stopped right in the middle of life.
Look at the bible - it is full of stories which are read to us everyday in the liturgy to remind us not to forget God’s constant goodness to us. Look at the psalms, most of them are prayers of remembrance, prayers of remembering - about how God saved his people. These are rear view mirrors in life which keeps us stronger every time a new difficulty or problem comes to us because we know and we have experienced for ourselves that once in my life when everything is down and out God took me by the hand and helped me to stand up. And I did survived. And now I know from experience, by remembering this one experience, that God will never abandon. If God has helped me in the past, if I have survived the past, I know now that I should never be discouraged for God will help me as he has done so in the past.

All of us has gone through difficulties in the past. Problems came a our way, sickness visited us and left us with some disability, we may have experience difficulties in school, difficulties in our work or business, a problem child or a problem parent. Let us remember those times when we have survived all these, when something good came out of it, for that is what I meant by the golden thread that runs through our lives, the golden thread which is God’s constant goodness, God’s unfailing love. I should not be afraid again, neither should I be discouraged nor be disturbed, for once in my life I experienced the healing touch of God and if he has done so in the past He will not abandon me now.

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