AS THE purple and gray hues painted the sky above me and as the waves caused the sand beneath my feet to sink, I let myself be engulfed by immense solitude.

But in a while, I was flooded by the depressing paradoxes of life. Was it perhaps because my attempts to escape reality only hurled me deeper into the brink of desperation? Or was it because of my failure to grasp the infinitesimal anonymity of time? Or even my refusal to accept that I was deprived of life’s essentials? I didn’t know what released these once-suppressed outpourings. I tried to search for the answers but to no avail. The answers lay within me, yet I would not reach them for I was temporarily suspended in mid-air where confusion seemed to resonate within the depths of my being.

I frowned at the vague emptiness creating this void. I searched deeper and deeper still until I could dissect every detail that made up this miserable existence. I had life-defining moments, which had shaped me the way I was now. But sometimes, I thought my life was in turmoil like the waves rushing ashore. I let out a heavy sigh. I gave in to the inviting warmth of the sand and fell back with my head resting on my hands.

Just a few moments ago, the austere sky retreated from the darkness. The salt spray stung my eyes, forcing me to shed tears. I tried to conceal them. I felt I was drowning. I felt I was being hurled in an emotional whirlpool. The wide expanse of the sea seemed to mimic my downtrodden feelings. I stared blankly, then closed my eyes. My mind shifted to Him Whose hands had laid down these things. To Him who sealed my fate and now there had been nothing left for me. I shivered at the thought of doubting His existence. Hastily, I was waiting for something that might erase these lingering negative thoughts. I waited. I cried out, blurted my inconsistencies, but He might not have heard it for the wind had drowned my words.

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My gaze fell back on the sea again. I used to despise it. I refuse to come near it when I was a child. It swallowed and claimed the lives of my sole reason for living — my parents. The ferryboat sank in the midst of a typhoon on their way to Palawan, and their bodies were never recovered. It has been two years since that unfateful day yet the pain continues to throb within me. I was stripped off the realm of security that I was used to. I was supposed to be with them, but last-minute shopping delayed me. That night found me with no one to spend the season with. It was supposed to be the happiest moment of my life yet I couldn’t even force a smile. The weight of my problems crashed down upon me like angry waves smashing my frail body into pieces. Not even pitiful glances could lessen my burden.

A sudden whip of wind brought me back to my senses. Instantly, I just knew I didn’t have to wait for an apparition to unfold itself. And sometimes life is like that. You painstakingly search at the wrong places even if it’s just within reach. The accident left me with an emptiness I couldn’t fill. The soothing calmness of the sea was a reminder that He was just here.

I had no idea how long I had been rooted on this spot, pondering, searching, grasping. I listened to myself — the steady rise and fall of my breathing, the rhythmic pattern of my heartbeat now at ease. I uttered a short prayer loud enough for myself to hear. Now maybe, just maybe the answers seemed far from obscure. It hit me hard — those intricate patterns of vast experiences and myriad accounts of failures had been my strength to steady me during those trying times. My problems were just a speck compared to the sea’s vastness.

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I started to walk along the shore to witness its raging waters until it falls back to serenity. God manifested Himself through the sea. Renewed vigor swept my being. I stared at the beaten raft nearby. The coiled ropes seemed to lose its grip on the bamboo planks. But then one had to maintain one’s balance for a smooth-sailing ride. I should not look for the answers for the sea would reflect it to me. I used to despise it but God works in ways I can’t comprehend. And so it goes. Maybe my parents must be here, surmising what kind of a woman I had become.

Darkness still shrouded the area. But the darkness within me slowly vanished. The cobwebs festooned on my mind dissolved. It wouldn’t be long now before the sun would make its grand entrance. The night had opened the door which wouldn’t budge before. Now, I won’t be scared to wade in the waters and explore its depths. The sea had washed my troubles ashore.

Too bad, I couldn’t bring the sea back to the city with me. But I would always feel His presence. Anyhow, I eagerly looked forward to another rendezvous with the sea. I traced back the long path to get back to the wooden house I was staying. Along the way, I tripped on something glistening in the sand. I picked it up and held it in my hands for close scrutiny — a smooth, white rock. I slipped it in my pocket, looked up, my lips curving into a half-smile.

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