Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Experience is not the best teacher

Since time immemorial, experience has been acclaimed as the best teacher. Nobody dares argue. Not until somebody claims, it is the worst. I don't want to join the debate because I already found the best teacher, i.e. life itself. A timeless, tireless, relentless and irresistible teacher, as well. Giving me lessons, despite my unwillingness to learn.

The year 2009 will long be forgotten by my family as it marks my 55th birthday. At the peak of service, I felt relatively stable and fulfilled in my achievements. The ups and downs of life's experiences have increased my knowledge and honed my skills in living and serving. Unsophisticated, my direction was to receive less and give more. Beaming with confidence I have learned much from life, my motivation was to teach and share with others the riches of knowledge and experiences in service.

At that time, my successful leadership as national president of the Baptist pastors affiliated with the Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches was wrapping up. Five years earlier, I was awarded as one of the ten outstanding social workers of the Philippines. I could not have asked for more except longer life to continue my service. And to consolidate my life's experiences and service into a dream book/publication on spirituality for future references.

All of the sudden, the ecstasy was shattered by a chronic heart ailment, compounded with unusual nerve disorder in the last quarter of the aforementioned year. A matter of three months away from our national assembly to cap my six years of service and leadership. It was a devastating experience for me and my family. The worst we ever encountered so far. Such condition has constrained my active life of service. Adding pain was the realization that we have given all in service without saving for ourselves in times of crisis.

Since then, most of my time has been spent at home due to limited mobility, making me vulnerable to discouragement and depression. This condition goes on for more than a year. An on-going wrestle with the nagging issues of pain and suffering and search for the meaning of all these experiences in life. Still, I manage (should I say, force) to maintain my teaching employment, after 8 months of sick leave.

The healing process has been very slow with intervals of critical interlude due to heat and humidity or every time I overstretch my limits. During lucid times, I almost forget my condition, especially when missing my traditional diversion at home –carpentry, gardening and yard cleaning. Hence, I end up either with strained heart or hypertensive condition which require more medication and time to recover. It is here where experience is no longer best teacher.

However, my attitude has dramatically changed. Instead of lingering on endless questions and debates, alluding to God or blaming self and circumstances, I take everything as part of the process. Assured that sooner or later, I will learn lessons and find the meaning to any circumstance in life. For, indeed, "nothing can separate us from the love of God." He will never allow all of life - experiences, pains and gains, sorrows and joys in service, and more to come to naught. For after all, He is with us now and in eternity. Reflecting on the totality of life – both here and thereafter, I have discovered the real best teacher. LIFE itself.

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