If there is one word that best describes my apostolate experience that would be “helpless”. The desire to help was chained with circumstances leading me to exhaustion. Somehow, Sundays became dreadful to me since I have to face again the reality of the apostolate, the chance of being contaminated again with the conglomeration of pain and woundedness.
The heavy burden laid upon my shoulder somewhat impede me to see, in the eyes of faith, the joy and liberation it gives if only I could transcend the whole experience. The task wasn’t easy, but still I have to face the music.
Influenced by the movies I watched in T.V., I was really afraid of being in New Bilibid Prison. My heart was pounding so hard that I could loudly hear it. I tied myself to my batchmates not wanting to be separated away from them.
As the jail guards began “checking” us, I felt uncomfortable coupled with fear and anxiety. Though deep within, there’s a part of me excited for the chance of “mingling” with the convicts. The thrill of seeing people who are marked by our society as criminals, murderers, rapists, etc. excites me. More than the excitement, I think the longing to see my Jesus in them pushed me to be there.
Then we went to the psychiatric ward, where we met several inmates who were mentally challenge. The most striking was when a man sang a melancholic song. The lyrics of the song impregnated in my memory, (I could still see him clearly in my thoughts),went like this,
Hahalikan nalang natin ang kinabukasan
Ng buong loob at yayakapin pa
Tadhana’y medyo overrated kung minsan
Kung ayaw may dahilan
Kung gusto palaging merong paraan
As he was standing face down and sang sheepishly, those words were like daggers slowly slicing me from within. A premature tear had escaped from my eyelids, the premature tear met a premature death. Wanting not to be consumed with sadness, I tried to fight the feeling away, but loneliness and pity had enveloped me suddenly.
I couldn’t believe how the prisoners, who are mentally ill manage to sing, pray, laugh, talk, and listen.They were squatting on the floor amused by our presence, though some were just sitting in their bed ignoring the whole scene. I could read in their eyes the loneliness they’ve felt. Was it really loneliness? Or maybe, was it just the projection of the feeling that I have, and continue nursing since the last month I decided to bid goodbye to my family?
I really do not know. I was off guard when reality slapped me.
In the afternoon, we had the chance to talk with the juveniles. As the course of our sharing advanced, my biases and prejudices about the prisoners began to melt away. Little by little I was freed away from my unnecessary fear and worrying. In my rude awakening, I found myself more tangled into my preconceived notion of the prisoners in Bilibid than these imprisoned young men. When I bade goodbye to me new found friends, I, too, bade goodbye to my prejudices.
Though I wrestled the feeling of helplessness in me, little by little, through prayer and series of reflection, propelled me to realize my giftedness, wanting to grow in giving of my giftedness, especially to the least, the last, and the lost in the society.
After the whole day of wrestling with my issues and woundedness, at the end of the day when I’d brought my pain into prayer, when I evaluated myself, I came to meet my wounded God. Indeed, He was all there with me. In my prayer, I began to appreciate my share of woundedness. Somehow, it is my sacred place where me and my God met. God then becomes so real to me.
I remember the Gospel passage where Thomas met the resurrected Christ: ‘Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side’ (John 20:27). Reflecting on this passage, I realized that in my daily pursuit of finding God I’ll be wounded. My vocation is to find God and grace inside the wounds.
This realization was so humbling, so astounding, so healing, that I sat in a teary-eyed stillness.
As I gazed my Jesus nailed on the Cross, somehow I began to see the beauty of His cross, the beauty of His wounds. I then realized that to see the beauty of my cross, the beauty of my wounds, I must journey into my darkness. I must face the deepest of pains. I must go where I fear. And I am finding that this journey is hard, long and difficult… and I could never make it by myself. But I know, deep inside, that I am never alone, because my Jesus is traveling with me and will always be.
P.S. I am very thankful for the program for allowing to meet my wounded God.