I am almost in my 6 weeks of staying here in Ecce Homo Sion’s Pilgrims House. Hospitality is very alive in this house, and, indeed I have experienced the hospitality of my co-sisters, the staffs, and the workers. Because of my good experience in my new community, my disappointment of not having a visa to Egypt was completely gone, and it boosts my energy to devout myself in my apostolic year.
I am delightful living in a different environment where Muslim prayer wakes me up in the middle of my deep sleep which reminds me also to pray with them. In the Guests house, I work every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday. I am assigned to some tasks especially preparing the meals which I have to wake up early in the morning to prepare a breakfast. I am also assigned to the reception. I have also some works like doing laundry, ironing, cleaning the house, watering the plants, and among others. These works keep me busy, but I find joy in doing those works. I feel that I am also praying in doing those household chores. Thus, I feel I am one with the people working every day in their daily lives. I strongly believed that hospitality builds relationship with others especially those of other beliefs. For instance, I am so glad to work with other workers who speak Arabic language. Though I do not understand their language, yet I have the courage and endurance to talk with them.
On Saturday, I always made sure to go to Western Wall to pray with our Jewish sisters and brothers. I also go to Holy Sepulchre to pray and meditate in the silence of my heart. Since the beginning of my formation in Sion, I give importance to my prayer life, and for me prayer life is very necessary because I am able to connect to my God, the Source of everything. One form of my prayer is silence wherein I also let God to speak to me. There are instances wherein I could say that it is an answered prayer. I always pray that God will keep me away from danger. A concrete example of this, which is really very touching to me, is whenever I entered Jerusalem from Bethlehem. It is my struggle because of the tension between Israel and Palestine. I am emotionally disturbed whenever I cross the border, where people are obliged to go down from the bus and the Israeli soldiers check their permits. It reminds my own struggle of freedom from my terrifying memories in the past, wherein both my parents were killed by the soldiers. My burning desires to untie the chain of slavery triggered by this situation, yet I simply trust God that He will guide me and my companions. And, yes, prayer works in everything. Another good example of this is in my apostolate in L’Arche every Monday and Thursday. L’Arche is founded by Jean Vanier. In L’Arche, people, who are intellectually challenged, and those people who come to assist, share their life and daytime activities together in a family-like setting that is integrated by doing some handicrafts made of wool. God is present in them. I see God in them. God made flesh through them. I got some values from these people despite their situation in life. I appreciate very much their sensitiveness to the needs of others. One time, while I was working with them around the table and did some handicraft mixing with water and soap, somebody grabbed my hand and immediately took off my wrist watch for it not to get wet. I was totally moved by her action. All I thought was she understands nothing, but I was completely wrong! Yes, we might be intellectual than them in terms of brain, but they are more intelligent than us by using their heart to love without limit. Yes, I can feel that God is working in them even in a simple way.
These experiences touched my soul and I realized that all of us have our own stories to share. Part of our story is our weaknesses and vulnerabilities. We are all broken, and nobody is exempted of that! But we have one thing in common, we are journeying in one path and that is a journey of LIFE. I am reminded of a great spiritual writer, Henri Nouwen. If I were to recall, he somehow said that, in my own understanding, our brokenness must not be a hindrance towards being whole again. Look at Jesus, he was broken for he died on the cross, yet that was not the end. Jesus’ resurrection is a triumph over death. His brokenness made us whole again for we become God’s beloved children. Like these people, they share their life unto us, and that is why we get some values from them. Our life must be shared so that it will also give life to others despite the brokenness.
Last two weeks ago we visited to Galilee, Jericho and Mt. of Temptation with the volunteers in Ecce Homo. I also helped Bernadette preparing things for the coming Biblical program in June. In my stay here in the guest house, I come up with some reflections, realizations and a walk to healing. More and more, I am able to understand deeply and live the Sion’s spirituality particularly the charism, hospitality, respect and dialogue with other religion especially the Jewish religion. Again, prayer life is very necessary. The joy within me is burning to serve God and His people.