One of my fondest memories from childhood was my mother's fig jam. We had two fig trees in the backyard, and because of the surplus the trees yielded, we either ended up giving a large share of the produce to neighbours and friends, or made fig jam. Although figs did not grow in my parents’ homeland, the Philippines, we used a Filipino derived recipe: rose water, honey, palm sugar, a little orange rind, and a just a hint of spice. It was a laborious process that required not only my mother and lola*, but the whole family as well. Yet in the end it was worth it: We had fig jam to last us a whole year, Christmas presents to give to distant relatives in North America and Asia, and an excuse to feign illness just to stay home and eat.
Memories like these make me smile, but they also make me feel sad about how much I lost along the path to adulthood. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve learned a lot about life and garnered experience, yet you begin to miss the time when everything was so simple. Not simple in the means of having no bills or pay, responsibilities to mind, or a boyfriend to calm down when something is amiss; but simple in the fact that you could cherish every moment and bask in the purity and holy simplicity of which was yours.
For a moment, I’d like to pause. Have I failed to notice what I noticed so many years before? The crickets and grasshoppers in the yard, the wind blowing in my hair, or even the stars illuminating the night? I hesitate to use the word ‘magical’, yet to me as a child, they were just that. Simple things like the experience of feeling the grass between my toes, the scent of my newly-scrubbed cocker spaniel, hearing lola hum her old provincial tunes, or running my fingers along the grooves of my father’s wooden desk. Even the most awful things became fond memories: If either I or my other siblings hurt ourselves, mum was always there to soothe us.
When did we ever lose that sense of magic?
I’d like to reclaim that magic - that sense of wonder – of seeing and soaking in your surroundings; to see that everything, even something so small, like a little flower so unnoticed it gets stepped on, has a beauty so elusive yet so profound when we examine closely.
This week has been a terrible week, one of which I’d like to forget. Sitting in the corner chewing on your fingers (it used to be my hair when it was longer) isn’t a great way to start off the week. But perhaps I forgot to see the beautiful things this week that I should be grateful for: Things that I underappreciated and ignored. I mean, even in the hardest of times, God blesses you at every moment, every second, every minute.
No matter what happens, God will always take care of you. It may not go or happen the way you planned out, but nevertheless, the One holding you in the palm of his hand as you traverse through this earthly plane is God himself. He was there at the beginning of your beginning, and he will be there at the very end. Why would he abandon you as your journey on the world he created just for you? He will ever leave you or forsake you. (Hebrews 13.5)
So it is. Know that every moment is magical, because God is with you along the way. If we could only see with faith, our eyes will be opened to see the wonders and marvels, even through the most difficult times, that God has at hand. We sensed a magical presence when we were young; let us so return to our childlike faith.
You see, God was present when my mother made her famed fig jam, and he was present when mum gently soothed us when we fell. If only we notice God's presence in the midst of a mess, perhaps one day we'll have an opportunity to look back and remember it as a time when God picked us up and gently soothed us. That makes every moment, whether good or bad, magical.
“For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” (Jeremiah 29.11 RSV)
*Lola (loh-lah) is Tagalog for 'grandmother'.