“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”
-Epicurus, BC 341-270

IT WAS after the opening Misa de Gallo, when I saw that little girl, who was walking alone across the rough road of one of the summits of Sierra Madre. She was wearing a small stained white blouse, a navy blue skirt, and a threadbare pair of slippers. Although she was only seven then, she already taught me one of the most inspiring lessons that I will treasure forever.

I happened to have glanced at the young girl when I was serving at the altar in the first dawn Mass scheduled at 5:30 in the morning of Dec. 16, 2002, in a small, rarely used chapel on the Sierra Madre. Most of those who attended often yawned, but the child didn’t. Instead, she kept her focus on the entire celebration. Most of the time, her eyes were closed, her hands were together, which she held close to her chest. At that instance, I was amazed to see a young child with that incredible passion for praying. But, little did I know that it was just part of a significant lesson to learn, which was to be thankful with what I had.

After the Mass, I arranged the holy vessels used in celebrating the Eucharist. Then, together with the priest and other another acolyte, I went on board a jeepney with a truck-like engine, which was the only passenger vehicle that could reach that place. Going down the steep rough road, I spotted a familiar face, the same girl that caught my attention during the dawn Mass.

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“Would you want to take a ride,” the priest asked the child after the jeepney stopped near her. The girl first blankly stared at us, showing astonishment with the offer. But perhaps, she recognized us from the Mass so she got on to the vehicle.

That was the time I was able to talk to her. I asked her where she was going.

“I’m going to our school down town,” the little girl enthusiastically answered. “Sometimes, my father takes me to school, but I walk alone most of the time.”

Despite her tedious task of walking for almost an hour, she did not exhibit any dismay at her condition. Instead, she was very eager in telling her stories.

But I asked her about her fervor for prayer.
“I just want to give thanks to Papa Jesus,” she told me. “I want to thank Him that I can go to school, that I have food to eat, and I have my mother and father.”

After almost five years, the memory of that incident remains clear in my mind. It serves as a constant reminder for me to be satisfied with what I have. In doing so, I find happiness.

PRAYER: Merciful Lord, please forgive us when we ask for more when what we have is enough. Help us to discern between what is due us and what is not meant for us. In celebrating this yuletide season, make us realize that the Son’s gift of life to us is that which is most essential and important. May you lead us towards a life in constant communion with you — in prayers, actions, and thoughts. Amen. Levine Andro H. Lao

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