On Lanterns, Caroling, and Sad Goodbyes

The mere sight of a lantern swaying in a little finger of a grade schooler may seem indifferent to many. The same indifference is felt for a child who flattened and fastened soft drink caps together for his caroling. But a second look at the dancing lantern and appreciative listening to ring-a-lings and jingle bells of children reveal a familiar connection.

Christmas is here. Yes! One of the wonderful times of the year is making a graceful and harmonic unfolding. And just as everybody begins to notice of this season, Christmas lists are not far behind.

As early as September, Christmas songs are already frequent hits in the airwave. Shopping centers have already set for massive consumers. This is foresight at its best. Think about pastoral apostolates where cliffhanging experience is an advantage. Parish immersion with accompanying agendum of expanding one’s circle of friends. Self-imposed home exiles under the name of patching unresolved issues. And don’t forget-asking donations under the disguise of Christmas caroling. These are just the structures making up an exciting Christmas vacation. But before thinking about these things, isn’t it worthwhile to discover the irony when the year is about to end?

No doubt the soon-to-end year has left traces of fond memories eternally stored in a heart-shaped microchip: community social gatherings, assemblies, recollections, pastoral assignments, classes. The nostalgia reaches heavenward and there is a reason for rejoicing. These activities have in a way brought out the good and best in us. Throughout the year, we have tried to journey as “men who are ready for the ministry of the Catholic Church and service for others”.

Thank God. With this thrust as our guide, we brisk past the year whole and entire and with the energy-filled desire to be holy priests.

Alongside the happy memories enveloping each one of us is the painful acceptance that we cannot continue the journey with the same faces on board. The fourth years will be graduating soon.

If their absence can create an emptiness comforted only by a daily reminisce of good old days, think about the pain over the leave of those preferring to take regency and those wanting to stay but doomed otherwise. For sure, words of good luck are not enough to see them off. If only there is a word more descriptive than merely missing them.

This only shows how the formation has begun to take root in our system. The months of being together have made everyone an important link in a chain called partnership. Then, comes the time to bid farewell. The pang of separation ensues.

Perhaps the year’s closing is just one of the ironies life teaches her students. There’s the inexpressible joy of making it to the next round but also there’s the inconsolable sadness of seeing friends go. But isn’t life supposed to include a time to embrace and a time to let go? A time to seek and a time to lose? (Ecclesiastes 5-6)

The irony stays and one has to learn to live with it. If this moves one to meet his real self, then fine. If not, then there’s a need to drop a few plans in favor of new ones to answer one’s needs. But for the meantime, why not try caroling to enjoy Christmas. If you’re too old, there is always plan B – settle for crafting lantern. That’s flexibility.

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