August 26, 2011

Spiritual ambivalence (Part II)

Dear God,

You know very well that my Christian conviction led me to the mainstream of the people’s struggle.  I joined the ranks of those who dared to go against the tide.  Most of  those who responded came from different persuasions, belief and ideologies. Many were non religious, radicals, activists, and even communists whom our  Christian circle avoided.  Against the dominant  conservative and seemingly apolitical stance of my religious denomination at that time, I  joined the ecumenical  group in solidarity  with the struggling masses.
You have seen how the ambivalence continued .

While most in the community of faith turned to prayer, if not apathy,  to guard themselves from the perceived influence of non religious  ideologues dominating the scene,I have situated  myself in the opposite  side. This might have alarmed  some brothers and sisters in faith. At one point, I was informed by a confidante, my name was included among the list of  prayer requests during their  morning devotional . The group was about to do their regular morning prayers to you when somebody saw me coming home from an overnight seminar. A member hurriedly requested for the inclusion of  my name in the prayer list because, according to her, she was so concerned that  I have already joined the underground movement. Of course, you know that after their prayer session some became  suspicious, if not fearful,  of me for having joined the infidels whose victory would eliminate the freedom of religion as foretold  by some Christians in other countries.

Indeed, you have been amused on how  we use small group prayer, sharing and meditation  a sort of gossiping session. How we tend to intrude personal  lives in the name of prayer concerns. How we deal  with issues of justice, righteousness, forgiveness and reconciliation within   our religious denomination and the outside world.  I had  the foretaste of how our leaders dispense justice   when we exposed and protested  against irregularities in our bible school. The administration retaliated by accusing us  of violation of rules and regulations i.e. smoking. While we were both  guilty,  our  lesser offense  were meted with  suspension. Of course, some members of the school board were honest enough  to appreciate our courage  to confront the irregularities and bring to their attention. Still, in their desire to  save the institution, they had to maintain the status quo until the term of the administrator ended to avoid legal battle. We were just consoled  by the thought that, in our youth, we had spared  the institution from further trouble and assured of our return after the administrator is gone.

Whether such  traumatic experience  had a bearing on my  pursuit of justice in the society, you know better than I do.  But I am certain of your presence and grace in all my struggles including the spiritual ambivalence. There was even a  time when  in our ambivalence, especially during the intensification of the struggle,  we often asked ourselves  whether we would  witness the dawn of a new day. Many of us had  already resolved  that we might  not experience it.  By your grace,  I was one of the fortunate ones who  witnessed the dawn brought about by  the EDSA Revolution.

But it was  a dazed  dawn. Because after the euphoria ,  the political and ideological struggles resumed including the witch hunting activities. Having been identified with the left, those of us who returned to the mainstream became  more vulnerable. Suspicion and cooptation from the government, on one hand because of our  past record. While, on the other hand,  an ambivalent relationship with the other side.  We have also to deal with our Christian community who felt aggrieved by our hardheadedness  to forsake the tradition. Many of us experienced  isolation and the stigma  of  labeling.  Some succumbed  to pressures while others were  victimized by psychological  warfare.  Either by will or forced by circumstances  they were  coopted and suffered isolation, threat  or reprisal from former  comrades. Worse,  when the once solid  movement  were split resulting from some bloody skirmishes, confusions and complexities. But you were there to help me survive in such ambivalence.

(To be continued)