This is the second time that I’m observing Lent away from home. Lent, generally, is not observed in UAE being a Muslim country. But Catholics are free to observe on their own, especially that the church has the schedules and programs almost close to what’s in the Philippines. However, no long weekend for us. But some organizations are granting a one-day special leave (Maundy Thursday, Good Friday or Christmas) to eligible employees. I remember availing one for last year’s Easter Sunday because I intended to observe Christmas in the Philippines. What about Good Friday? Incidentally, Friday and Saturdays comprise the weekend.
I’m being nostalgic again since aside from All Soul’s Day, Christmas and New Year, our clan informally (and automatically) get together in any day from Maundy Thursday to Easter Sunday. (But I occasionally missed this when I started working. I remember in 2007 our team only rested during Good Friday. I stayed in Laguna for less than 24 hours and was back to Makati at early morning of Black Saturday. Hello, L Team! Remember that? Don’t you miss that?) I miss the prusisyon (procession of saints). I remember joining this without fail until I was in high school. When I was younger I’d go with my late grandfather who’d put on his wig (because he has a Bembol Rocco head) and he’d be glad whenever no one noticed that it was him. I also miss the pabasa (I’ve never participated) done by our neighbors, the hampas (penitencia), and a lot more.
While almost everyone are going out of town for the Holy Week, we just stay home. My grandparents wanted everyone and everything to be quiet. No radio, no tv, no laughing (yes!), a lot of no-nos. Whenever we would get loud, they’d say we’re like Jews. Over time, things were in moderation. We’d watch the Holy Week-related movies/features, go swimming in the nearest resort, etc. As I get older (ouch!), aside from reflecting I am hand in hand enjoying the “silence” brought by the season. It’s a psyche thing. As my cousin’s YM shout out reads, she is in an “emote mode, emote, emote”.
This brought me to re-read this awesome essay by Pico Iyer about silence. These are the more striking portions to me:
(a) Silence is sunshine, where company is clouds; that silence is rapture, where company is doubt; that silence is golden, where company is brass.
(b) We have to earn silence, then, to work for it: to make it not an absence but a presence; not emptiness but repletion. Silence is something more than just a pause; it is that enchanted place where space is cleared and time is stayed and the horizon itself expands. In silence, we often say, we can hear ourselves think; but what is truer to say is that in silence we can hear ourselves not think, and so sink below our selves into a place far deeper than mere thought allows. In silence, we might better say, we can hear someone else think.
(c) “A man who loves God, necessarily loves silence,” wrote Thomas Merton, who was, as a Trappist, a connoisseur, a caretaker of silences. It is no coincidence that places of worship are places of silence: if idleness is the devil’s playground, silence may be the angels’.
(d) A “moment of silence” is the highest honor we can pay someone; it is the point at which the mind stops and something else takes over (words run out when feelings rush in).
(e) Silence, like all the best things, is best appreciated in its absence: if noise is the signature tune of the world, silence is the music of the other world, the closest thing we know to the harmony of the spheres. But the greatest charm of noise is when it ceases. In silence, suddenly, it seems as if all the windows of the world are thrown open and everything is as clear as on a morning after rain. Silence, ideally, hums. It charges the air.
(f) Silence, then, could be said to be the ultimate province of trust: it is the place where we trust ourselves to be alone; where we trust others to understand the things we do not say; where we trust a higher harmony to assert itself.
(g) We babble with strangers; with intimates we can be silent. We “make conversation” when we are at a loss; we unmake it when we are alone, or with those so close to us that we can afford to be alone with them.
(h) In love, we are speechless; in awe, we say, words fail us.
But sometimes we fear silence. We would let some songs play, let the television on, or tap anything just to keep us company. Silence is indeed best appreciated in its absence.