No eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him. Continue reading
No eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him. Continue reading
Found this speech while I was reading through my journal… Lots of things re-learned and realized while going through it again…
Department Graduation Speech
Allan D. Corpuz, MD
Chief Resident Department of Medicine UP-PGH
21 February 2013
Dean Agnes Mejia, Dr Rody Sy, Distinguished members of the EXECOM, Section Heads and Consultants and Faculty of the UPCM, Ms. Cecile Pena and Members of the Nursing Staff, Graduating Fellows and Residents, Family and Friends – I have always looked at acceptance speeches as “make or break” situations. Make or break because at this point of the program, many people have probably left, and those who remain are probably bored from the long ceremonies or are itching to have lunch with their family and friends. The acceptance speech, being part of the closing ceremonies, is the last hurdle before people head for home. At this point, people are usually groggy and less sharp. That raises the challenge a bar higher for the speaker, who, could either continue boring them to death or give them one last dose of inspiration, giving each one a send-off message that will stick to everyone’s mind like Velcro. It is my humble prayer that at the end of my talk, I will have accomplished that. Well, anyway, at least, Aubrey gets to speak after me. So truth is, the pressure is on her.
I’m very much honored to be in front of you today, in a gathering of some of the finest doctors in the country. Truth be told, and I’m not saying this to diminish myself, but I wasn’t considered among best or the finest residents in my batch. I was a supporter, a sideline cheerer; I wasn’t one of ‘The Residents.” In fact, I was only nominated as most outstanding resident on my senior year and at honestly at that time I felt I was only included because I was going to be chief. I had ok grades, minor administrative positions, small supporting roles. I wasn’t always like that of course. But for the most part, that was me. But I was always passionate about the things I did, even in the small things. And in the end, that was more than enough to bring me back.
Today I am going to share with you 3 lessons I’ve learned through my years of Residency then Chief Residency. That’s it. No big deal. Just 3 things.
Today marks the end of our “struggles” at PGH. For some, like me, it will commence again on March 1 as we start our fellowship training. But today, we are all graduating as residents or fellows of the institution. I chose the acronym E-N-D to highlight my points this morning.
When I was in first year, somewhere around October, I had 12 mortalities. That was 2 more than the total number of mortalities I had for the past 9 months. I was devastated then. I felt incompetent, inadequate. I was afraid I had set the record for the most number of mortalities in a given month and that was something no resident would ever be proud about. And while we were taught not to blame ourselves for death of our patients, especially for those who have come beyond the point of salvation, I still felt that I was mostly responsible for the lost lives. I wasn’t reckless or irresponsible then. I knew about and read well about my cases; I tried to see to it that they were getting the best medical attention possible. But they just kept dying. My senior then was this great guy named Mikey Reyes. He is graduating today with us. Sir Mikey had always talked about encouragement and empowerment. But he didn’t just talk about them, he lived them out. At my most vulnerable moment, Sir Mikey didn’t lecture me about patient management nor did he reprimand me about losing so many patients. Neither did he say that it was okay to lose so many patients in a month. He understood what I was going through, and patiently taught me and guided me without necessarily taking over. I was neither condemned nor condoned. There was no need to mention where I had gone wrong, or what I needed to do; he allowed me to realize that, and I did, in a better way than I could have had, if he had just simply taken the helm. In my second year, we had a great Chief Resident, Ma’am Ging Racaza, who is also graduating today with us. I have always read about principle-centered leadership but I have never seen it so beautifully executed until I met her. Her principle of “Killing with Kindness” was something radical in a department that was more used to merits and sanctions. She was criticized heavily about it, for being too soft and too kind, but in the end, she was well-loved by everyone, even the hardest of hearts. “Killing with Kindness” was so effective because it appealed to the residents’ inner good rather than to superficial responses, motivated by fear.
These 2 stories bring me to my first lesson – EMPOWER, ENCOURAGE and EMPATHIZE. At the Chief Resident’s Office, you’ll find a sign Hannah made for me. The sign reads: SPEAK THE TRUTH IN LOVE. It keeps me reminded about the lessons I learned from these 2 stories I just told you. Many times during the course of my term, I had complaints raised against residents, or even fellows. And at each time, as chief, I had to make decisions regarding these. And when I talk to the residents, much like Sir Mikey and Mam Ging taught me, I try not to condemn nor condone. Whenever I am told to blast a resident for misbehaving or to sanction them right away for doing something wrong, I talk to them first, learn about what they have to say. They are adults, and are supposed to be treated as such. And when one resident wasn’t performing well academically or clinically, I wasn’t quick to judge. I don’t point out mistakes. I realized that if you just talk to them, listen not to reply, but to understand, you will find that they themselves would come to realize the roots of their own problems and you’d even be treated to the joy of hearing them come up with concrete and creative solutions to their issues.
We will all lead our own communities as we walk out of the halls of PGH. And as we do, may we remember this lesson in empowerment, encouragement and empathy. If we divest ourselves of power and invest it in others in such a way that they are empowered and encouraged, and if we do this with a sincere attempt to understand them first, then we can transform people and communities and our reward is ending up with the greatest power of all, the power of seeing ourselves reproduced in others.
My second point is to NEVER REST. It was around October of last year. September to November are among the busiest months for a Chief Resident because of the Oral Exams, Preresidency and Annual Review. It was a very tiring and busy afternoon. Tarobs Razo, who frequented the office for different reasons was coming over. I was tempted to stop him in his tracks before he even sat down because I was really preoccupied with so many things then. In retrospect, I’m glad I didn’t. That was one essential lesson I learned during my term – always find time for people, even for and especially for the ones who are most difficult to deal with. Peoplework must come before paperwork. The great Mark Sandoval taught me that. He said I should not fall into the trap of becoming a glorified secretary because I was something more than that. I should become the chief of residents. I never let that slip out of my mind. So, that afternoon, Tarobs and I talked. And while all that time I thought that I was going to mentor him, in the end, it was I who got mentored. I was telling him about how busier I was getting every day and how I felt at that time, that the better I handled my tasks, the more work flowed in. I felt, that because I was reliable, many tasks which were not mine were being passed on to me. And it was becoming tiring to the point of burnout. He told me about the parable of the talents. Most of you know the story. It was a about a Master who was leaving. He gave each one of his three servants 5, 3 and 1 talent, given according each servant’s ability. Upon his return, the one who had 5 doubled his talents to 10, the one with 2 already had 4. But the one with a single talent, simply buried it and did nothing about it and just returned the talent to the Master. You probably know the ending. To the first 2 servants, the master said – “Well done! Because you have been faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things.” And the servant who rested and did nothing – his one and only talent was taken away and was given to the one who had 10.
Tarobs pointed out the lesson to me, and it was something I still remember to this day – “The reward of good and faithful work is more work.” And it is not something to be sad about. God gives us opportunities and responsibilities according to our abilities, not so we could rest, but so that we could maximize them in a relentless pursuit of excellence and in turn create more opportunities for others. Never resting doesn’t mean that we don’t sleep or play. It means to never stop working towards being the best, in whatever situation we are or wherever we are placed. It means taking more and more responsibilities as we continue to improve because we understand that the more capable we become, God expands our “borders” so that we can touch more lives and help more people. It means keeping on doing great work despite the weariness and frustration because we know that this is the only way to be truly satisfied and because this will create ripples of influence that will reverberate to our future successors. It means, as the late Steve Jobs would say, “Staying hungry, staying foolish, and never settling.”
This leads me now to my last point. To accomplish great things, one must DIG DEEP, DREAM BIG. When Mam Diana told me early August that I was nominated as Chief Resident, I had mixed emotions. To be included in an elite company was great, but honestly, I was more fearful than excited at that time. It was something I never expected, much less dreamed about. As I said, I wasn’t among the chief residentiables from the start. Considering how I got into trouble during first year which made me controversial and unpopular, the chances of me being Chief Resident was as high as the chances of Jaime Aherrera playing for the Philippine Basketball Association. I just wasn’t cut out for it. In my first year of residency, I attempted to quit twice. I almost didn’t make it. But I did.
It is said that when God wants to do something great, He always starts with a difficulty. But when He wants to do something truly magnificent, He starts with impossibility.
So, inspite of the improbability of being chosen, I said yes when asked if I was going to take the job, knowing fully well that the learning curve would be steeper and the adjustment period shorter than usual. Digging deep for me means having faith in a personal God, trusting Him to accomplish what he has set out for me to do and not worrying about the outcome. I knew the responsibility was going to be tremendous, but after praying about it, I wasn’t afraid anymore. I took the plunge knowing that my God will deliver the right outcomes. My job was to work with all my might. His job was to see to it that his good purpose is accomplished in me and in the people I deal with. Dreaming big means me embracing the responsibility of leading the department because it was something I was deeply passionate about. I might not be the most brilliant among my peers, but I knew this was something I wanted to do – lead.
I believe in the principle of 360 degree Leadership – that position is immaterial, and one can lead from below, lead across and lead from the top. It is this principle that allowed me to do the right thing and do it excellently with or without recognition.
Most of all, after much prayer and reflection, I took the job because I knew it would give me a chance to work with one of the brightest stars in the field of leading – Dr Agnes Mejia. Not a lot of people would have this honor and privilege to be mentored by one of the finest. I fondly kept the text message she sent me the day I was told I was going to be chief: “Allan, thank you for accepting a most challenging task, one that is always looked upon with awe and respect. I look forward to a memorable year with you.” Every time I am filled with weariness and my mind is beaten by disappointments, I always go back to those words and they never fail to bring comfort and refreshment. And learn from the master I did. The sweet strict cadence of working on a clock, the precision of a surgical blade when it comes of carrying out the task at hand and the strong uncompromising devotion to family are but a few of the pearls passed on to me. I couldn’t ask for more. Mam Agnes and I share a special bond. I look up to her with deep fondness and respect, like a son does to a mother. I fondly remember us having her iPad lessons closed door, in her office. In a less than a month, she was sending email through her iPad, much to the delight and amazement of her contemporaries. How close was I to her? Only I know her new email’s password ☺ We still text and email each other once in a while, sometimes just to greet and say hello. She still updates me about Jimboy’s latest accomplishments in track and field, and still goes to me for consult regarding computer stuff. As you all know, I was blessed to have served under two chairs. I dreaded the prospect at first because I thought the adjustment would be difficult. But not everybody had the same opportunity as I had. It is said that no man can serve two masters. But I did. And it was the best experience I ever had. Under Dr Sy, I learned selflessness and humility. Dr Sy is a very busy person, and yet, he always has time and with a ready smile, for everyone, who comes to his office. He never preached about these values, but the way he lived them out spoke louder volumes. One time during Christmas, when no one was at the office Hannah said she saw Dr Sy entertaining watchers who are asking questions at the office. He was guiding them where to go and what to do. A few minutes later, while we were fixing decors, some fell down at the floor. Dr Sy stood up and helped pick up some of the decors. He didn’t consider these tasks too menial. That, is worth emulating. Dr Sy was always open to suggestions and he always asked everyone’s opinion about matters in the department. He was a brilliant strategist, yet always saw to it that our inputs were considered. He didn’t necessarily follow them, but he heard each one of them out. He always tried to be present in our activities, including small resident-level ones. And he always has food during meetings much to the delight of everyone, of course.
Chief Residency was both revealing and redemptive to me. Revealing because it showed me that it is in my emptiness that I have the capacity to be filled. I have much yet to learn. Redemptive because, despite being the least expected to be chosen, it gave me a chance to do something I like to believe I am good at.
There are times, however, when an overwhelming feeling swoops through me and there are moments when I have doubted my own capacity to deliver. Chief Residency in PGH gives you a lot of that. The name, the title, is nothing compared to the responsibility that comes with it. It is in times like this that I dug deep and drew more on the love that I have for what I do and for the people I lead – and it never failed to bring an oasis to me. I realized that it is not through my successes or victories that I was able to lead well. It is through the difficulties that I experienced as a resident that allowed me to empathize with people, understand and relate to what they are going through and provide comfort to them.
Had I been popular, I wouldn’t have understood how it felt to be left out and unnoticed. Had I been always on top, I wouldn’t have understood how it felt to struggle and would never have learned how to lift others up. Had I been the obvious choice, I wouldn’t have appreciated the post and loved it with a passionate and undying dedication. Because I counted myself unworthy in the first place, I finish the race with both feet planted on the ground, the position never getting into my head… Unworthiness taught me to be humble and grateful.
I hope it’s something I will leave to all of you. Let’s stay away from entitlement mentality – the thought that the department, the training committee, our leaders owe us everything. That’s a very “me-centric” type of mentality, something I spent much of my time trying to demolish during my term.
As I join the elite company of chief residents who preceded me, I am deeply humbled. I would like to dedicate this award to the following:
1. To my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. You have provided me the opportunity to minister to the department of medicine and have given me the grace to persevere amidst the tough challenges.
2. To my Mom and Dad who are here with me today and my sister Annalyn. As Dr Jubert Benedicto taught me, “No amount of success will ever compensate for failure at home.” Im glad I have a beautiful family. Thank you for putting us, your children, as your top priority. You have been very patient and understanding, and have continued to support my endeavors. I am only successful because you have grounded me well in faith and values. I hope I’ve made you proud today. I love you with all my heart and soul.
3. To my ACRs – Mike, Jaime, Joyce, Arthur, Gelza, Abby and Herb – Im extremely proud of you guys. From you I learned this lesson: Small dreams are reached alone. Great dreams require others. You cannot succeed alone no matter how talented or skillful you are. I’m glad I have you as friends. Thanks for the teamwork that made our dream work.
4. To the Medicine Office Staff – Mam Gina, Mam Cris, Mang Dan, Sir Jerome, Mam Liway, Mam Minerva, Mam Chrismie, Mam Melissa and Mam Nilda – I never thought you’d like me much because I was serious and robotic. But you did, and I’m ever grateful. Thanks for the friendship that gets better with time. I’ll miss our photoshoots at the office.
5. To the graduating class of fellows and residents – for bearing with me as your Chief for 2012. And for playing your roles to the utmost of your abilities making it, as Dr Rey Tan would always say – a good year.
6. To Mam Agnes, Sir Rody – for the trust and mentoring. To have worked with both of you was truly the icing on the cake.
7. To the consultants, especially Dr Dans, Dr Nicodemus, Drs Rey and Iris Tan, Dr Palileo, Dr Ona, Dr Tranquilino, Dr Benedicto , Dr Manapat-Reyes and Dr Alejandria – for the snippets of wisdom through my term.
8. To the residents – who stayed with me through the highs and lows of the year, for trying to behave in a manner worthy of an IM resident and for sharing their talents and creativity to make 2012 great.
9. Finally, to the love of my life and bestfriend, Hannah. It was difficult enough to be first year endocrinology fellow –with all the tasks and responsibilities. It was even more difficult being in a relationship with an equally busy chief resident. And yet you never complained. And you always found time for me. Thank you for never skipping lunch with me, even if we had it at 10 am or 4pm. You cried yesterday when I read parts of my speech because you said that could feel each memory coming alive again as a recounted them. For you were there in the direst and toughest situations and you lifted my spirits whenever I came to the point of breaking. And you celebrated each milestone with me. It was amazing how you juggled your responsibilities so you could spend time with me, to hear me out, to talk with each other or just so you could help me and fill in for my deficiencies. You did it all behind my shadow and yet you never asked for anything in return. I never could have done it without you. Thank you for the sacrificial love. I am ever grateful and I love you for all time.
Last year I read an interesting story which I shared with the preresidents during their orientation. I would like to share them with you today, as I end.
“In every police department, a yearly proficiency test in marksmanship is conducted to ensure that every police officer can use his weapon accurately. During the test, an officer is instructed to fire 12 shots in 18 seconds into a target from a distance. He is then evaluated with regards to how accurately he hit the target in that short span of time. It was a warm, humid day come day of examination. A young police officer who had recently been fitted with a new pair of trifocals stepped into the target range, sweating heavily, filled with so much anxiety and pressure. He has to pass this test if he wants to be retained in the department and to be promoted to a higher rank. He took his gun, loaded 12 bullets and set aim. It was a hot day, and sweat was dripping heavily on his brows. To his dismay, the new set of trifocals was more of a liability than of use to him today. The humidity coupled with his heavy sweating formed a fog on his lenses obstructing his vision. 18 seconds. The clock started to tick. His heart began to pound. Time was running out. It was then when he remembered what his senior officer told him during his early days in training. When you can’t see your target, remember your position. He aimed his gun again, grounding his feet steadily into the ground, keeping balance. By this time, he had less than 18 seconds left. He fired his 12 rounds rapidly, steadily. By the time it was over, he walked over to the target. To his and everyone’s surprise, he had hit the bull’s eye 12 times.
When you can’t see your target, remember your position.
This is the final message I would like to leave to everyone in this room. Eventually, we will all leave the halls of this institution to venture into new horizons, take increasingly difficult asks and brave new challenges. And a day will come when we will be overwhelmed and our vision obscured by doubts, frustrations and failures. And when this happens, may we be able to overcome by digging deep – remembering the grounding that our training institution and mentors have given us. May we keep this in mind always so that our aim may be steady and true.
When we can’t see the target, may we remember our position – remember our roots, remember how we were grounded. The values we learned are the same ones we can draw strength, fortitude and guidance from. May they always stay with us.
Empower. Encourage. Empathize. Never rest. Dig deep. Dream Big.
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,500 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 42 trips to carry that many people.
I believe that we are all like 13 year olds learning a new and difficult topic, especially in a challenging field as rheumatology. And sometimes, we have been told not to be “too basic” or “too elementary” in our explanations; that we should use the scientific language to speak and explain…
I beg to differ. I believe that we should simplify as much as we can to the point of telling stories or simple analogies.
I’ve been reading a book called Made to Stick and it has helped me a lot. I will share some concepts to you when we have free time. I shared one this morning, about the “Curse of Knowledge.” It simply means that once we have become knowledgeable about a certain topic, we tend to forget how we learned it (whether it was the hard way or the easy way), and sometimes, we find it hard to understand why people don’t understand what we talk about (when it seems soooo easy to us). I am guilty of this curse, especially on the technical, geeky stuff. A lot of times I find it hard to understand why people can’t understand these stuff (like, why Ken can’t get the concept of Cloud-based files storage like Dropbox. Hehe). That is my “Curse of Knowledge.” What I “hear” in my brain, and the cadence by which I hear it is not the same as what Ken “hears” or how fast he “hears” it. I need to simplify (mistakenly perceived by others as “dumbing down”) so that people can understand.
The book I am reading, Made to Stick taught me the principle of accuracy vs accessibility when teaching. Let me share this brief excerpt:
“We discussed the Curse of Knowledge in the introduction—the difficulty of remembering what it was like not to know something. Accuracy to the point of uselessness is a symptom of the Curse of Knowledge. To a CEO, “maximizing shareholder value” may be an immensely useful rule of behavior. To a flight attendant, it’s not. To a physicist, probability clouds are fascinating phenomena. To a child, they are incomprehensible.
People are tempted to tell you everything, with perfect accuracy, right up front, when they should be giving you just enough info to be useful, then a little more, then a little more.”(Excerpt From: Heath, Chip. “Made to Stick.” Random House Publishing Group, 2008. iBooks.)
Also, watching this 11 minute TED video by Tyler DeWitt awhile ago, inspired me once more, to overcome this “Curse of Knowledge” and shy away from the myth of “Dumbing Down” and be able to teach in a simple way. I hope you too will find it useful as we become educators in the near future 🙂
Here’s the video:
Enjoy guys 🙂
These are tough days. From reports of international terrorism, to the local corruption that plagues every aspect of our government. We blame the government, we blame each other, and at times we blame (or question) God. How could He allow such atrocities and injustices to happen? And we ask ourselves: Shouldn’t we unite, arise and fight?
Yesterday’s devotional reading of Jeremiah Chapter 29 gave me an important insight. Jeremiah was a prophet at the time of the Babylonian exile of the Israelites. He is the modern-day equivalent of priests or pastors.
There are times when our situation will be less than ideal, and God may have brought us to a place of discomfort or we may be away from our friends and relatives or the government may be bad or oppressive.
But He says that He know the plans He has for us. And that these are plans for our good and not for disaster (29:11). No matter how bad looking it might seem at the outset, no matter how long the trouble, God wants us to trust that He knows what He is doing, and what He is doing is and will always be for our own good. We need to pray and seek Him out continually (29:12) because if we do, with all our hearts, humbly and without presuppositions and presumptions, He will hear us and we will find that He has been behind every nook and turn all along (29:13). The sufferings will pass. The troubles will be replaced with peace. He will bring joy and comfort to us.
And what is our role? Our role is to be still before Him and pray. In Jeremiah Chapter 29, Jeremiah wrote the exiles in Babylon, urging them not to defer their lives. He asked them to make the most out of their time in Babylon. God’s instruction for everyone was to build homes, plan to stay. There were no instructions about fighting the government, about packing their bags and making an escape back to their hometown. No! They were asked to stay, marry, have children, find spouses for their children, multiply. They were not urged to take arms against the city they were exiled into. They were not asked to form militant groups and rally in front of the king. And mindful of the history of the Babylonian empire, it wasn’t easy for them to do this. This was a foreign land. The Temple which was very dear to them as nowhere. They have a pagan king. The food was different, the culture miles apart from the kind they grew up with. It was hard adaptation. But God asked them to stay and make the most out of their time for the next 70 years. That’s an entire lifetime. And not just that. He asked them to “work for the peace and prosperity of the city where they were sent into exile. (29:7 NLT)” God asked them to “Seek the welfare of the city…and pray on its behalf; for in its welfare (you) will have welfare. (29:8 NASB).
Sometimes, we squirm at the slightest inconvenience when God brings us somewhere beyond our comfort zone. It may be a new responsibility under an unforgiving, demanding boss. It may be relationship that has gone sour and unexciting. Or it may be a love that has yet to arrive. It may be being governed by people who take your money and spend it lavishly to provide for themselves and their families comforts unimaginable even for ancient kings. It may be a place of work and being with a group of people who don’t share your views or principles and keep you in isolation. It may be being far away from family and friends, in a country with a different language and culture. It may be religious oppression and non-tolerance.
In all these situations, God asks us NOT to postpone and defer our lives until the problems end. He wants us to keep plodding on through the situation we are in, making the most out of the situation, while also seeking His heart and His will in the process. He wants us to trust Him, that no matter how grim the situation or seeming prognosis, everything will be all right in the end. His plans are meant for our good. And yes, that includes the injustices and oppression around us. I feel sad when I see leaders, including church leaders urging people to fight the government, as if that was what God inspired their hearts to do. For me, it betrays a lack of understanding of Scripture, and an empty hollow faith, a lack of trust in the Sovereign power of God. Instead of rallying, demonstrating and hitting back, His Word tells us to respect the all governing authority (yes, the government and yes, our bad bosses), because all authority comes from Him and those in positions of authority have been placed there by Him. (Romans 13:1-2 NLT). He even goes to say that “anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished.” (13:3 NLT). This was written by St Paul, who was then, a prisoner of the Romans. He urged his people to obey the same authorities who shackled him and who were about to execute him.
God wants us to pray for our situation, for the welfare of the people who lord it over us, for the unpleasant people who annoy us, for our places of work and residence. We are to pray for it/them, as their welfare will determine our welfare.
At the end of the reading is a beautiful promise. “I will bring you back again,” the Lord said about His exiled people. God will restore peace, justice and prosperity again.
We need only to be still before Him.
A sad but true article about the current troubles in Iraq…
Allan got us synced on it, and now we’ve gone through Zephanaiah, Jeremiah, and the history of the Israelites’ struggles against the Assyrian and Babylonian empires.
A noticable pattern appears throughout the lives of some of our Old Testament heroes and the chosen people as a whole – that of running to God and then running away from Him to go back to the idols they have created. The attraction being that these false gods and idols are controllable (the alternative true God is of course, above and beyond us). These “gods” allowed all sorts of perversions that catered to the flesh – sex worship (the Asherah poles) and child sacrifices (to the god Molech)…
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One of my classic favorite reads 🙂
[Ed. Note: Here’s a little “diabolical ventriloquism” from C. S. Lewis. He means to have some tongue-in-cheek fun with modern-day educrats. What he ends giving us is a devastating critique of public “education,” “democracy,” culture — and ever so MUCH more than that…. I hope you’ll all enjoy figuring out what’s really going on here. — bb.]
Screwtape Proposes a Toast
(The scene is in Hell at the annual dinner of the Tempters’ Training College for young devils. The principal, Dr. Slubgob, has just proposed the health of the guests. Screwtape, a very experienced devil, who is the guest of honour, rises to reply:)
It is customary on these occasions for the speaker to address himself chiefly to those among you who have just graduated and who will very soon be posted to official Tempterships on Earth. It is a custom I willingly obey. I well remember with what trepidation…
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You are at rest now. Sleeping in a tomb at our backyard. We all wanted your final resting place to be here. At our home. Where you belong.
It is a moment of deep grief for the family. I don’t think we’ll ever stop grieving. Mom and Dad will surely miss you. So will Manang. They were your constant companions. You kept them company, you made them happy while Yen and I are away. You were their baby. They adored you, as parents adore their children. You took away the loneliness, the boredom, the pain of an empty nest.
You were Mom’s bestfriend and partner. You two always spent time together, perhaps even more than she and Dad did. When she read, you sat at her lap and kissed her. When she ate, you stayed beside her and asked to be fed (I still remember how you wanted to be fed with a spoon and how you would drink from our cups). When she retired for the night, and you’re still busy catching mice and insects, you stopped your activity (even when we knew you were still brimming with energy), and walked beside her to bed. When she needed to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, you woke up and accompanied her, and oftentimes, relieved yourself too. And when she woke up so early in the morning to prepare the family’s breakfast, there you were again, waking up so early too, with tired and sleepy eyes still, sitting at her foot, keeping her company.
It has been said that it is wrong to humanize a dog. Because they are not our equals. I really don’t care. We felt that you were one of us, no matter how crazy that would sound. Many times, you acted like a real person. When we talked to you, you seemed to understand. I would even go as far to say that you are even more human than some people I know. You loved unconditionally. You never held a grudge. You never took it against us when we cannot bring you to church or to the mall. Not because you don’t care. In fact, it was painful to see your sad eyes looking through the balcony everytime the car left. We knew you wanted to be part of every trip but you just keep looking and waiting everytime we left and then greet us with so much joy and anticipation everytime we arrived. You drag your feeding plate near the dining table when we eat, because like true family, you want to dine with us, be with us. You watch TV with us, hear our never-ending stories, keep us warm through the night, then wake us up with warm kisses.
The last time I saw you was the month of May. I took your photograph, not knowing it would be the last one I’d take. Your skin was so shiny, newly grown, after you had your seasonal hair loss in March and April. Your eyes were glowing and happy. When we arrived, you danced and jumped and rolled around the sofa, like a exuberant child who had just seen his longtime bestfriend. You always loved to be hugged, and we did hug. I only regret that I didn’t hold you more that summer. I didn’t know you’d be gone too soon. It pains me, but the memory of that short span of time we were together is the only thing that brings me comfort right now. It is so painful, dear friend. The pain of your passing rips my heart apart.
You left us so soon. So suddenly. Somehow I would like to say it’s unfair. I knew that one day you’d be gone… I just didn’t expect it would be this way, this early.
I do not know if we’ll ever meet again in the afterlife. I have no idea if we’ll ever get to touch you again someday. They say only humans have souls. I would like to believe you have your own spirit. I really don’t know… But one thing I know – God is good. He gives and He takes away. And even if we are at loss for words with your untimely death, we still bless His name. We celebrate your life more than we mourn your death. If you could speak to us, we feel you would have wanted it to be that way also. You would have barked and yelped and wagged your tail in delight if you could understand all these.
So farewell our dear friend, companion, and bunso. Goodbye Yuri. It’s been an amazing 7 years. You will forever hold a special place in our hearts. We pray that God will fill the gaping hole that was left with your passing, with his peace and comfort.
I found this article very helpful. Especially for people like me who are always late 🙂
The Survivors’ Creed (Max Lucado)
I will get through this.
It won’t be painless. It won’t be quick.
But God will use this mess for good.
In the meantime, don’t be foolish or naive.
But don’t despair either.
With God’s help, I will get through this.
These words were inspired from Max Lucado’s new book and DVD series, “You’ll Get Through This.” I found a link to the first video while I was going through Twitter. The video was about the story of Joseph, how he struggled early in his life but never developed bitterness about the difficulties he went through or against the very people he called brothers who sold him to slavery. Max had wonderful insights about the story. He mentions about how the brothers threw Joseph into a pit and ate afterwards as if nothing happened. He talked about how, in the end, they realized how merciless they were, seeing the pleading in Joseph’s eyes and ignoring it nevertheless. But even as Joseph rose from one position to another, only to be beset by new difficulties, he still continued to look up to God. He never lost sight of God and therefore, was never bitter.
Max said that the story of Joseph was in the Bible to teach us that God trumps evil in the world. And there are times when we feel that he doesn’t care about our situation or that he is taking His time. God may take His time but He never wastes our time. In the midst of His apparent silence, He works in us and through us to mold us and prepare us for greater things. We may feel at times that the situation is hopeless and unfair, and that we seem to be assigned to a curriculum we didn’t sign up for. But God, in His great wisdom put us there for a reason. He wants us to learn something. Like Joseph whom He prepared for the biggest task of all which is saving the ancient world from the most devastating famine ever known in the history of mankind, He prepares each one of us for a bigger task, which may be unknown or unfathomable by us at present. We just have to trust that whatever difficulty we are in at the moment, with God’s help, we will get through it. God is in the business of getting His people through all kinds of situations. Getting through the Red Sea, through the fire, through the wilderness, even through crucifixions. And while we are in the toughest situation which makes us sitting ducks for stupid decisions, we should keep hanging on to Him until He gets us safely across.
Thrown into the pit by his brothers, abandoned and rejected – Joseph never failed to lose sight of the fact that he was God’s child. And having experienced a tough day myself today, I felt a small fraction of what Joseph felt back then. But the good thing about being in a pit, dark, damp and cold as it is – is that there is only one way to look, and that is up. Up to the one who holds our future, all our hopes, dreams and aspirations. And as Max said at the closing of his video, the God who pulled Joseph out of the pit and made him the prince of the palace, is the same God who reaches to each one of us right now in our time of despair.
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