Her full, scarlet lips pouted as she checked a message on her android. Her perfectly arched eyebrows knit, and the hoops on her ears dangled as she shook her head, artfully crowned in a messy blond bun. A fuchsia shirt, denim leggings and 6-inch platform shoes complete the look. She looks up and catches me staring at her. I know it was rude and felt embarrassed, but she dimpled a shy smile and gave me a respectful nod. I smiled back and thought: “That’s one of the things you get away with if you wear the veil!”
You’d think that would deter me from observing further, but I couldn’t help myself. It was as if my eyes were on full alert that day taking notice of so many details. There were only three of us as we waited for more passengers. The other one is a young man seated behind the driver, with earphones on, feet tapping and head bobbing up and down to the beat of the music on his mobile phone. That’s one happy fella!
A bespectacled man in a long-sleeved, pin-striped shirt came up sweating profusely and started sending messages on his smartphone as soon as he sat down. He’d glance at his wristwatch every so often, then continue composing and sending messages. Here’s a man who knows how to make the most of his time, you can almost see the thoughts zipping through his forehead.
Beside him is a gray-haired woman in an “I LOVE LONDON” T-shirt in Union Jack colors. She too was busy on her small phone which may be her first. She would compose a message, shake her head and clear it up, then start over, her tongue unconsciously slipping out of her lips as she pressed on the keys. She’d mumble an audible “tsk, tsk…” at each wrong key. Was she sending a thank you message to a grandchild who sent her the shirt and the phone? Or to a co-senior to prove her prowess on this new technologies?
A young man in a denim polo, all buttoned up to the chin, sat in front of me. He opened a leather messenger bag and held a pink portable mini-fan before him. Then he turned his head ever so slowly to the right, then to the left, careful not to disturb his well-gelled hair.
A muscled man in sleeveless black shirt and matching beanie squeezed his way beside the young man. His large callused hands had nicks and scratches, his torn jeans and sneakers stained with paint. Could he be an artist? a carpenter? a construction worker? The state of his backpack favors the latter.
Jumping last onto the vehicle in a checkered green skirt and white blouse was a teenager. She unraveled her neon green earphones with impatience, navigated to her playlist and unceremoniously buried her face on the bulging backpack on her lap.
As the jeepney picked up speed, the lady beside me gathered her rebonded tresses at the side. She was wearing moss green overalls with matching leather pumps and a lady’s bag. I think she could be another Makati executive, as the scent of Chanel wafted my way. Something was peeking behind her collar, though. Intricately tattooed on her nape was the figure of a heart and a man’s name – maybe her boyfriend’s?
To my left was a mother clutching a shopping list on one hand and a market bag in the other. Wearing a simple white T-shirt, long shorts, and clean but almost worn-out flipflops, she would nervously glance at her list, check her pockets for something, and sigh. A deep, long sigh!
As I looked at each of them, I wondered what each of their story is. What a world of meaning there is in the sigh of the woman beside me! Or in the student who buried her face on her backpack. And the tattooed nape of a respectable woman. I gazed on them one by one and wished I could listen to each of them share their life. I did what I know I could do. I offered a prayer.
As I did, all my co-passengers zoned off all together! It was as if someone hypnotized everyone to sleep. Was it the drone of the machine? The humid air as we sped through the Skyway? The sense of safety among strangers, with the makeshift door of the jeepney closed? The worry lines and nervous mannerisms disappeared. Even my ‘sweet-painted lady’ looked like an innocent girl. Bobbing Bob’s head is now swaying left and right, and Mr. Executive is momentarily out of control, his hands limp and his mouth agape.
Unbidden, the words of Psalm 131 slowly came to mind:
“Like a child at rest in its mother’s arms, so will I rest in you, my God.”
There is no doubt that each of us bears a cross, a trial, a problem. But each time we succumb to sleep, we let go of control. Isn’t it wonderful how God makes each day new after a night’s rest? When we sleep, we renew the act of embracing what is, knowing that we are enfolded in the loving arms of our Father/Mother God. Granted, we do this automatically, many times unconsciously. But like a child in its mother’s arms, we allow ourselves to rest.
As we celebrate the feast of the Sto. Niño, may we allow God to take control, not only when we are asleep, but each waking moment of our life. The Child Jesus reveals a God who assumes all our humanity in order to show us what it means to be truly human.
May we have the courage to consciously embrace all that we are, with all our beauty and weakness, our greatness and our pettiness, so that we can begin to discover all that He truly is.
Viva pit Señor!