The waiting game
As the days in the world’s temperate regions grow shorter and cooler, the roots of deciduous (“leaf-losing”) trees send less and less water and nutrients to the leaves, causing them to fall. This shedding allows the trees to conserve their water supply during the winter. As the leaves fall, the surrounding land explodes in a firestorm of yellows, oranges and reds. The trees then go to sleep, to wait for spring to rescue them.
Hibernation is a state of dormancy and inactivity in animals such as rodents and bears which is marked by low body temperature, slow breathing and heart rate, and low metabolic rate. It is a mechanism adopted by many species to conserve energy during the winter when food is scarce or unavailable. By going into a state of suspended animation, these animals escape certain death and survive.
These random thoughts came to me as I waited for the countdown to the new year. It is not unlike the waiting game that animals play as they await the coming of spring, the onset of rain, the advent of Easter and the Resurrection. We sent the old year scampering away in exploding fireworks, lighting up the night sky to the brightness of day and turning the city into an inferno. (This otherwise beautiful city of our afflictions has been made ugly by the corpses of men, daily swatted down like flies.)
As I was watching the fireworks display, I knew I was witnessing the same thing happening each and every cleaving of the years, but for some reason I could not explain, I also felt that something about it had changed permanently, that this isn’t going to turn out the happy way I’ve always wanted it to be, that I am in fact waiting for a major disaster to happen.
Seeing the rockets explode by turns in a blaze of glory and then disappear into the night sky, I was reminded of the ignominious demise of that infamous monster named Adolf Hitler who, because of the indifference and cowardice of the world at that time, managed to incinerate half of Europe and six million Jews during World War II, and who in the end got himself and his whore incinerated in a holocaust of his own machination.
Stalin, Mao Zedong, Pol Pot, emperors and kings, czars and sultans, pashas and caliphs, even presidents of small backward nations, exploded on the world stage in quick succession, in a white-heat flash of chaos and mayhem, and then vanished just as quickly. They were made mad by their greed for power and wealth, by the afflatus that they were anointed by the gods to rule and roil, to rant and rave, to “salvage” and slay. A drug-induced notion of omnipotence fills the vacuum of their minds, crowding out a most basic lesson taught in schools: Change is the only permanent thing in this world.
Still they come, in waves of flotsam and jetsam, mad dictators sick in heart, mind, body and soul, completely misreading the graffiti on the wall, totally impervious to the terrible verdict and judgment of history. And so today we witness the specter of Dachau and Birkenau being revived and replicated in places like Mindanao, Maguindanao, Lanao and Davao.
While we live, we wait, and while we wait, we suffer. But it is precisely this period of waiting that gives us time to rest, to conserve the energy remaining, to gather strength to fight another day, another winter. This interregnum forces us to recollect our memories, to reflect on all past deeds and intentions, and to review the lessons ignored or forgotten. The bear awakens in the spring famished and hungry. Our souls likewise hunger for a really cool change, hunger to be released from the unbearable pain of living dangerously, hunger to be relieved of the indigestible bolus of social bondage and political oppression.
And so we wait, like animals freezing in a long winter of discontent. Even then, the fires of summer burn bright in our hearts, fanned by hope, fired by faith: One day we will be free!
Heaven also waits. It awaits our coming home to the end of ourselves, to the beginning of God. God waits for us at the threshold of Heaven, wanting to be there when we awaken, to be the first to hear us sing!
Antonio Calipjo Go (sickbooks_togo @yahoo.com) is the academic supervisor of Marian School of Quezon City.
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