I was in Bacolod around this time four years ago. No, I am not from there and neither was I taking a vacation. Fresh out of the Postulancy, I was hoping to do a leap of faith kind-of-thing by applying for a teaching position at a Lasallian school there while temporarily seeking shelter in a former co-postulant’s house nearby.
A Way closed. My game plan was to rebuild my teaching and writing career–my life–somewhere far and unfamiliar. Those were days of fear and uncertainty and I was trying to dodge having to explain to everyone, or at least to people who mattered, why I wasn’t going further into religious life. It’s not that I didn’t want them to know but what I preferred then was to settle down first before re-emerging to the world as an ex-seminarian.
A Way closed and I was trying to jimmy open a window. But it didn’t work out. The plan crashed and I was back to square one. Then I got a communication from Br. Armin Luistro, my mentor and guide. After a few email exchanges, I then realized that maybe the new Way that was waiting for me doesn’t require me to uproot after all. So, I went back to Manila and, eventually, I stepped into the premises of De La Salle Philippines in Taft Avenue, as a full-time employee. 23 May 2007.
The three years that followed were the best by far in terms of professional growth and experience. DLSP was only one year old when I entered and I witnessed (and flourished in) its organic growth. Those were days of exploration and discovery of possibilities for a network of Lasallian schools having distinct characteristics yet consciously aware and animated by the same Mission. Our office is not directly involved in the schools but we are in a unique position that allows us to work with and serve those in our schools. All the work that we do is in support of the educational Mission.
And part of the “best by far” equation is the people I worked with. Never had I imagined working with a different set. It wasn’t perfect but we were able to bring out the best in each other. It wasn’t perfect but the sense of Oneness is shared by all, so much so that in every event or project, we all pitch in to the best of our abilities, regardless of what it entailed. It wasn’t perfect but the level of professional and personal commitment to bring about a well-functioning and caring community is almost palpable. It was this that prompted me to say in 2007 that I finally found a workplace that I can grow old in.
But then again, the requisite cliché: some good things never last. I wrote about this bit in a post last year (The Boat is Sinking?), when there was still a third of us left. Now, it down to about a a fifth and there’s another one moving on.
It was numbing then, but now it has become painful. More so when I stepped into our Taft office for the last time yesterday. We’ve moved the last of our things to our new office in Ortigas on Saturday and I was just doing a last sweeping up of the place. It was empty. I tried hard not to be sentimental but that can’t be helped.
Another Way closed. I am not thinking of any game plan as of this moment. All I wanted to do now is to rest and clear my head. Where a new Way opens isn’t clear to me now. I have apprehensions. I have questions. But there’s no use forcing an issue when these are all I have. I’ll let time and prayer direct my next move.
This coming Monday is my 4th anniversary at DLSP. It would be my first time to call the DLSP office in Ortigas my place of work. There, I’d be finally joining the 10 other survivors of the previous community and forge a new one with the rest of the personnel of the integrated structures.
I feel sad but I am keeping my doors open. I said in 2007 that I think I finally found a workplace I’d like to grow old in but now I’m not sure if it’s still what I think and feel. I hope that this week-long time off from work would be enough to help me in my discernment of my next move.
In closing, I’d like to share with you a portion of Br. Armin’s response to me when I told him that I am certain that I wanted to leave the Postulancy in December 2006. I go back to this email in times of uncertainties… most especially when a Way closes.
God does not require us to persevere in a state of life that is not life-giving. He is a compassionate God and the mystery of our vocation is one that only God and the inner depths of our souls will be able fathom. The fact that you sincerely listened to God’s call and tried your best to struggle with that choice is a grace in itself. God requires us to continue the discernment process everyday wherever it would lead.
I would like to think that God, in His goodness, did want you to try out the Brothers’ life and kept you there for a few months so that you would discover therein things that would otherwise not be known. The people whom you have met, lived with and prayed with during these past months will forever be part of your journey.