Simply Worth Remembering (A Birthday Speech)

Here’s my undelivered birthday speech for this year. 🙂 

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Taken during the 2015 Perpetual Profession at St. John Bosco Parish in Makati City. Photo by Mr. Jan Odivilas

Since I was appointed as the custodian of our newly restored community library, I thought that I should set a good example. And so, last vacation, I don’t know when exactly it was, I picked this little book from one of the recommended readings for the fourth year brothers. Written by Henri Nouwen,   it’s entitled The Living Reminder.

“The book is intensely profound,” this I remarked after skimming through the first lines of its preliminary pages. And I thought that, for me to digest it thoroughly, so that I could share something insightful in my first rendiconto with Fr Henry, I felt that I needed to write down passages from the book which caught my fancy.

And before I knew it, I already filled up nine pages of valuable lines from the book. That’s how powerful the pen of Nouwen is. That, it fills up the ink of my very own. And so, last night, after arriving from Batulao, when I couldn’t decide what kind of birthday speech to deliver, I was not just limited in choosing between a thank you speech or a sorry speech. Thanks to him, I have a third option to explore.

And so, let me share this wisdom from Nouwen, linking it up with the occasion, that is, my birthday, using my own voice:

The older we grow the more we have to remember, and at some point we realize that most, if not all, of what we have is memory. Our memory plays a central role in our sense of being. Our pains and joys, our feelings of grief and satisfaction, are not simply dependent on the events of our lives, but also, and even more so, on the ways we remember these events.

This is my last birthday speech for the community. I am 100 % sure that I will no longer be here next year. And I am also sure that I’ll bring with me to my new assignment the memories I have over the past three years in this community, and the memories which the next 10 months will yield for me.

Our pains and joys, our feelings of grief and satisfaction, are not simply dependent on the events of our lives, but also, and even more so, on the ways we remember these events.

But memories speak of the past. Yet, we are here in the present. And so, let the memories we shall fashion now be something truly worth remembering so that when we advance in the future where we no longer have each other, we could manage to pause and look back to the years of the theological formation we have spent in the Seminaryo and whisper to ourselves that those years are simply worth remembering.

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