Recently, my family went to the Mountain View College alumni annual camp meeting near Leesburg Florida. I work on the weekends so I wasn’t able to join them. I found myself alone that night in our four bedroom house so I made sure that all the doors leading outside were locked. I did not want to turn on the alarm system of our house because if I did, the alarm would go off if I simply just walked into our living room or into the kitchen. Nowadays I’m no longer scared of being alone but a moment like that reminds me of the time I felt alone and afraid.
In the book of God’s providence, the volume of life, we were each given a page. That page contains every particular moment of our history. If I’d like to be delighted over a particular thing. I would usually go to the shelves of my memories and fondly look back on the time I grew up in the Philippines, on the days of my trekking adventures. Actually my first trekking activity was not intentional. It happened when I was 8 years old, the year I was in second grade, in a humble school and in a small town.
river similar to the river near my school
The geographic location of my school offered a variety of activities after class, to a curious child who wanted to have fun before going home. Most of the students walked on foot between home and school. On the East and West side of my elementary school a little distance off, was a lazy river that seemed to be inviting young children who wanted respite. On the North side were meadows with chains of coconut trees conducive for camping and other outdoor activities. We usually play “Chinese Garter” in that meadow. The South side led to houses and roads leading to town.
One hot sunny day, our class was dismissed early, around 3:30 in the afternoon. When I was about to leave for home, my attention was caught by two coconut flower sheaths (“uyo” by local name) laying on the meadow. I picked them up and looked around to see if I could find some more. I walked north heading to the woods trying to spot more coconut flower sheaths. My mother said she liked to use “uyo” as wood. It burned well and was good for starting fires and cooking.
Photo of coconut flower sheaths
Wanting to please my mother by bringing her bunches of coconut flower sheaths, I trekked further north. Sometimes when I spotted brown colored woods that looked like uyo, I would run towards it. Dreadfully I found myself already enveloped by the dark shade of the forest. I suddenly I realized I was alone. All I could hear was the cicadas’ hum, the occasional call of geckos, the swaying of the leaves blown by the winds, and the chirping of sparrows alternating with eerie silence. Still, I wanted to find more Coconut flower sheaths. Many times I spotted mounds (punso by local name) which reminded me about goblins, elves, and dwarves that according to our local folklore and superstition, can cast bad spells and curses if you happened to pee or step in their mounds. I sometimes asked “Is there someone behind me” when I heard noises that I couldn’t discern. Although alone, I exercised my reasoning power and recalled what I learned from Saturday School, that there are angels given to each child. To cheer myself I decided to hum the song “Our father who art in heaven” in the tune of Nora Aunor. I guess my desire to please my mother paramount to my fear, so I dispersed the scary thoughts that liked to shake my composure. Walking further as if led by somebody, I came across a clearing. Alas the dark shadows from the tall trees was not pervasive in the clearing. The ground was covered by (damong kalabaw) carabao grass. The place was free from darkness, I felt safe and I could move around without the fear of snakes, or stepping into a mound. Much to my delight, I found lots of coconut flower sheaths on the ground. I welcomed the breeze that kissed my face. I felt some presence of higher being in that place. If ever, I think that was the first gleams of a different light and about spirituality in my life. That there’s a mighty being who will walk with you even in the dark. I decided to call the place “Our father in heaven”
photo taken under two guava trees near a lake while I was waiting for my daughter having her piano lesson.
Satisfied with all the coconut flower sheaths I found, I decided it was time for me to go back home. Heading back, I had to pass under the dark woods again. However, this time it was different since I no longer had any fear. I traced my steps back towards my school almost running while carrying a school bag on my right, and bunches of coconut flower sheaths on my left. With my small feet and faster steps I reached home panting, just in time for dinner and proudly presented the treasures I got from the woods to my mom. She gave me a sweet smile and a hug. Which for me seemed to be an approval.