Friday, October 16, 2009

This blogpost is for my friends, Muki and Grace, who have recently returned from their long sojourns in the homeland and processing the return to this place that is also home.

My Buddhist friend, Gail, used to remind me to slow down and take my time after returning from my trips to Pampanga. She saw my weepiness, my homesickness, my blank stares, my struggle to return to my life. Sometimes this processing would last longer than the two-week jet lag. I often expressed my fear to her that I might not emerge from this fog and that I would be sad forever. I needed Gail as a witness and she was a very good witness. She held me gently and honored what I was going through. No attempt to rush or analyze. Just a gentle presence.

I think of her now and I wish to be that kind of witness for my friends. But we are not in the same city. Would facebook chat do? Would email suffice? Would a phone call be enough?

I am reading "The Woman Who Watches Over the World" again. And this time, I noticed passages that escaped me the last time. Linda writes that, in retrospect, her days of falling down to the earth when she was too drunk to walk upright, was her body's attempt to fall to the earth. Literally. Her body's need to reconnect and hear the calling of the earth. The earth calling her back, inviting her to rest and be healed in the earth's bosom.

This is a very poignant passage to me. As I think about how the body carries history and how this history has been a wound for indigenous peoples, it is comforting to think that we can fall to the earth and be healed.

This is such a difficult concept to think about when I think of the devastation from the recent typhoons in the Philippines and the people, animals, trees, rocks that were all displaced. My first sympathies always lie in human suffering. This is my conditioning. But I am also learning how to enlarge my sympathies to the rest of creation. Where does it lead but to the feeling of awe and respect for processes that my mind cannot contain or that language cannot articulate?Time stretches and space expands until the contours of a cosmology begin to manifest and becomes a source of calm and peace. Yet the suffering is real, the losses are real. My body feels this.
Dear Muki and Grace, I imagine the struggle to be present in the body even as the mind pulls us away to our beloved archipelago. The body longs for the comfort and the feeling of knowing that it belongs to the land and kapwa over there. The body longs for the humidity that saturates the skin. It longs for the sounds - both natural and man made. It longs for the smells, taste, sights. It longs for the familiar. It is October and our ears ring with carols as we know that Christmas starts in the 'Ber' months over there. We long for the fluidity of life over there that makes people open and available to each other's hospitality and generosity. We long for the sense of kapwa. We long to belong to the earth and over there it feels a little easier to do so.

We long for these feelings and wish to recreate them here. But how? It is even hard to find people to talk to who would know what this struggle is about. Even our loved ones are impatient and they want to see us move on already. They want answers from us. Our ambiguity is unsettling to them. What are we mirroring? And can we create those conversations?

I think of you as I write this. I am thinking that I could have picked up the phone and called you instead. I am thinking that you might not be available. I am thinking that I think too much.

But I will talk to you and commune with you soon. Love to you.

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