eastwind journals01 Dec 2017 10:14 pm

CHRISTMAS WITH ARABS AND JEWS * excerpt from the book Wings and Wanderlust

CHRISTMAS WITH ARABS AND JEWS
Athens, Greece. What was my loneliest Christmas became an awesome experience.

 

eastwind memoirs
By Bernie Lopez, eastwindreplyctr@gmail.com

 

Excerpt 14
http://www.sisterraquel.com/2017/12/christmas-with
 
This is an excerpt from the book Wings and Wanderlust, the Art of Discovering Your Inner Self, a true story of the daring adventure of a Filipino Programmer in New York turned drifter, hitchhiking 25,000 kilometers for 3 years across Western Europe and North Africa. More than a travelogue, it is a guide to discovering one’s inner self.

 

CHRISTMAS OFFER. Send this book to friends anywhere in the Philippines as a Christmas Gift at a click of a mouse, no muss, no fuss. Only Php 400, including shipping, sent directly to their homes by JRS courier in 2 to 4 days. (US/EU longer, $30). Email the author at eastwindreplyctr@gmail.com on how to order the book.
 
But first read the excerpt below, and decide if the book is worth it as a Christmas gift.
 
EXCERPT

 

when your sojourn
reaches a sudden dead end
ask a passing gentle flower
to stay awhile
 
it is the genesis of the life force
carrying seeds that would
explode into towering trees
before it wilts and decays
 
the flower tells us that eternity
is really contained in the present
just as your darkness is contained in the light
one step, that is all you need, to cross the chasm
 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 
serendipity is bumping into
water when your throat is dry
or into kind people
when your spirit is dry
 
it is ironic that at the time
you want something so badly it is elusive
at another time you don’t care
it falls on your lap out of nowhere
 
My first winter was spent in the Canaries where I had a brief romance with Maria, the Spanish drifter, and where I lived a monastic life for a month in a cave in Lanzarote. From the Spanish Riviera, I suddenly decided to stop my journey and go to New York to attend my sister’s wedding. That was just an excuse. Actually, I had this gnawing fear of loneliness during Christmas.

 

My second winter was spent in Athens. I stayed at the cheapest hostel in town where African Arabs of all kinds stayed, Sudanese, Egyptians, Algerians. There was also a New Zealand couple and, strangely mixed among the Arabs, was a Jewish girl. There was a war going on in the Middle East, but, in Athens, Arab and Jewish drifters mixed freely. They did not care about the war.

 

In Athens, it would be my first Christmas away from home. I did not like the prospect. Weeks before Christmas, I knew I would get homesick. I was preparing myself mentally for it. I was thinking I would get drunk with the Arabs at the hostel so I could forget my loneliness. Or I was thinking I would look for some Filipino seamen in Piraeus where they all were. I didn’t mind spending Christmas on a ship. At least Filipinos around would probably help me get over this feeling. It was Christmas eve and my depression loomed.

 

I collected money from the Arabs at the hostel, announc­ing a midnight drinking party. Everyone agreed, includ­ing the Jewish girl. It was retsina all over again, the Greek wine, aviation gas to me. But being Christmas, we also bought some vodka and gin and mixed them all up for a terrible bash. Arabs and Jews normally did not cel­ebrate Christ­mas but the holiday feeling was in the air in Athens, so we had this grand party at the hostel. Arabs also normally did not drink. Not this bunch.

 

At eleven o’clock in the evening, we were all pretty drunk. I was depressed and homesick and the Arabs and the lone Jewish girl could see it. They were trying to comfort me. After all, I was the only Christian in the group. At half past eleven, I stood up, wobbled a bit, and quietly sneaked out.

 

I did not tell them I wanted to go to a church for the midnight Mass, something I had done my entire life on Christ­mas. I walked along in the streets towards the church. I felt guilty that I was going to church drunk but I thought it was better than not going at all. It was my refuge from my loneli­ness, the warmth of church with many people singing carols. The momentary silence of the late evening in the streets after leaving the noise of the party stabilized me. All of a sudden, there was solemnity.

 

The church was crowded and to hide my being drunk, I simply stayed outside the church beyond the huge front doors. I stayed behind the crowd which was spilling over outside the church. I wanted to receive communion but decide against it. Not in my state of inebriation. It would be irrever­ent. I just prayed and sang ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’ with the crowd. Bethlehem was just a stone’s throw away. I felt better.

 

Almost at the end of the mass, someone elbowed me. It was the whole gang. They followed me to church and wanted to commiserate with me. They wrapped the vodka and gin in paper bags to hide it. They giggled when I saw them. I felt embar­rassed as the others might see this bunch of drunken Arabs in a Christian church. But then again, I was touched. Friends who did not believe in Christmas believed in friendship. They came to Mass to share themselves with me on this precious day. I was almost in tears.

 

I was late for Mass anyway, so it ended soon. We left and were rowdy in the streets, shouting and singing, as we went back to the hostel. They sang strange Arab songs. My loneli­ness disappeared.

 

“Hey, guys, thanks. I really appreciate it,” I said.
“We’re all in the same boat, Bernie, remember,” the Jewish girl answered. “We’re all away from home. We have to stick together. Especially in our moments of pain.”
“Thanks,” I embraced her and the guys hooted, pushing us to each other.

 

We slept at about three in the morning only because there were no more to drink and the stores were closed. Everybody filed back to their rooms. My first Christmas away from home was not bad, only because of friends who were not even Chris­tians. I would never forget that Christmas, this melting pot of religion and culture. eastwindreplyctr@gmail.com

 

Email the author at eastwindreplyctr@gmail.com to get the book.
 
Book Cover
 
 
MORE EXCERPTS
 
Excerpt 02 – BRAWL IN A PORTUGUESE BAR, Vila Real de Santo Antonio, Portugal
Tired from hitching, I peek into a noisy village bar. The bartender beckons. I enter and there is dead silence. I play the guitar and hell breaks loose.
http://www.sisterraquel.com/2013/10/eastwind-memoirs-02
 
Excerpt 03 – PILGRIMAGE TO FATIMA, The 7-day 80-km hike, Portugal.
In search of myself, I drifted through Europe and ended up making a pilgrimage. No tent, no umbrella, just a sleeping bag, beach sandals, and a 1.5-kilo backpack.
http://www.sisterraquel.com/2013/10/eastwind-memoirs-03
 
Excerpt 07 – A SWEDISH DAMSEL IN DISTRESS, Canary Islands.
Evading security, I sneaked into a tourist beach at night. From atop a tall 5-star hotel, a maiden saw me fixing my sleeping bag, and, like an angel, descends into my realm.
http://www.sisterraquel.com/2014/04/eastwind-memoirs-07
 
Email the author at eastwindreplyctr@gmail.com to get the book.
 
amdg
eastwind journals26 Nov 2017 01:35 am

The Child Guru * based on a true story * give a book as a Xmas gift at the click of a mouse

****************
CHRISTMAS OFFER.
The book Wings and Wanderlust, the Art of Discovering Your Inner Self is a true story of a daring adventure of a Filipino Programmer in New York turned drifter, hitchhiking 25,000 kilometers for 3 years across Western Europe and North Africa. More than a travelogue, it is a guide to discovering one’s inner self.
 
Send to all your friends this book as a Christmas Gift at a click of a mouse, no muss, no fuss. It will be sent directly to his/her house anywhere in the Philippines by JRS courier in 2 to 4 days. Reasonable price of Php 400, includes shipping cost, deposit to a BPI branch nearest you. Email the author at eastwindreplyctr@gmail.com to get the book.
 
But first, you must like the book, so READ AN EXCERPT
 
Excerpt 02 – BRAWL IN A PORTUGUESE BAR, Vila Real de Santo Antonio, Portugal
Tired from hitching, I peek into a noisy village bar. The bartender beckons. I enter and there is dead silence. I play the guitar and hell breaks loose.
http://www.sisterraquel.com/2013/10/eastwind-memoirs-02
Excerpt 03 – PILGRIMAGE TO FATIMA, The 7-day 80-km hike, Portugal.
In search of myself, I drifted through Europe and ended up making a pilgrimage. No tent, no umbrella, just a sleeping bag, beach sandals, and a 1.5-kilo backpack.
http://www.sisterraquel.com/2013/10/eastwind-memoirs-03
Excerpt 07 – A SWEDISH DAMSEL IN DISTRESS, Canary Islands.
Evading security, I sneaked into a tourist beach at night. From atop a tall 5-star hotel, a maiden saw me fixing my sleeping bag, and, like an angel, descends into my realm.
http://www.sisterraquel.com/2014/04/eastwind-memoirs-07
Excerpt 14 – CHRISTMAS WITH ARABS AND JEWS, Athens, Greece.
What was my loneliest Christmas became an awesome experience.
http://www.sisterraquel.com/2017/11/the-child-guru
 
Email the author at eastwindreplyctr@gmail.com to get the book.
 
****************
THE CHILD GURU
Based on a true story
http://www.sisterraquel.com/2017/11/the-child-guru
 
eastwind journals
 
By eastwind – Bernie V. Lopez – eastwindreplyctr@gmail.com

 

children sometimes excel in the adult world
by sheer nature of their spirits
they are called ‘children of the universe’
 
one day, I wandered into a park
and stumbled on a tai-chi class
which sent shivers up my spine
 
Tai-chi is an ancient form of exercise and/or martial arts that originated in China. The essence is slow focused physical movements or ‘dance’. Chi is the vital inner force or energy in every living thing, according to ancient Taoists. The dance helps achieve perfect health of mind and body by balancing the yin (negative or dark) and yang (positive or bright) within a person. Yin-yang are opposing but complementary cosmic forces.
 
Vincent is a tai-chi veteran who makes a lot of money teaching CEOs, diplomats, and rich matrons at a public park in Makati City. Occasionally, he offers free lessons to a few people from the bottom of the food chain – messengers, clerks, house maids walking dogs, and even bums, who happen to stray into the park. He mixes them all up in one complex soup of rich, middle class, and poor. Often he gets problems from the wide social gaps and mindsets in his tai-chi class, until he met Vanessa, an eight-year-old homeless orphan. She is a free spirit who looks at the world as her personal inner garden.
 
One early Saturday morning at the park, while Vincent is waiting for his class, and warming up with tai-chi exercises, he catches the eye of Vanessa. For half an hour, she watches in total awe, then comes over. Without a word, she starts imitating his moves right in front of him. At a point, she falls on her face, and Vincent starts to laugh. She laughs with him.

 

Vincent
Do you know what I’m doing?

 

Vanessa
Yeah, sure. You’re having your breakfast of the spirit to make you strong.

 

Vincent
That’s a very good answer. Yes, you are right, chi is the Chinese word for energy. Tai-chi exercise brings out that energy. You fell because you lost your balance.

 

Vanessa
How do I keep my balance?

 

Vincent
Feet apart. (He demonstrates, she follows.)

 

Vincent
Do you know this was started by the Chinese thousands of years ago?

 

Vanessa
Nope. Now I know.

 

CONTINUE

 

Vincent stretches his right arm, palms open vertically away from him.

 

Vanessa
Hmmmm, like a policeman stopping a car.

 

Slowly, he pulls his arms together into a circle at the chest level.

 

Vanessa
Hmmmm. You gather energy into a ball, a basketball.

 

Vincent
(Continuing the exercise.) You know what I am doing?

 

Vanessa
Yeah, sure. You’re pushing the air, then scooping it.

 

Vincent
And what happens if you do that?

 

Vanessa
Oh, I guess you’re sucking in the energy of the air, absorbing it, then releasing what’s left. No, no. It is not really the air. The energy is inside you. Your motion helps bring it out.

 

Vincent
(Stopping the exercise.) Amazing answer. It is a form of meditation, only its more physical than mental.

 

Vanessa
Both, I think. More mental to me. I mean, so what if you move your hands. If you’re not thinking, it’s just empty motion.

 

Vincent
Right, right. Do you go to school?

 

Vanessa
Excuse me?

 

Vincent
No. Sorry. Forget it. Okay, watch.

 

Vincent brings the tips of his fingers to the top of his head, his arms in a heart-shaped form.

 

Vanessa
Don’t ask. I know. Energy flowing from the sky into your soul.

 

Vincent
From the Universe. Wow. Bulls eye again. You have an amazing way of putting it with such simplicity. You know, I teach the same things you are saying to a bunch of very professional people, and I have a hard time explaining.

 

Vanessa
Then, don’t explain. Just do it, then let them do it. The answer will come to them later on. Words are nothing. They will learn from experience, not words.

 

Vincent
Of course. Theoretical wisdom is nothing compared to experiential wisdom. You must be a guru in another life because you have so much wisdom even as a child.

 

Vanessa
Excuse me?

 

Vincent
Forget it. Where do you live?

 

Vanessa
Under the highway over there, along Amorsolo St., near Makati Cinema Square.

 

Vincent
Oh, you have no home.

 

Vanessa
That’s my home. I have no family.

 

Vincent
Where do you get your food?

 

Vanessa
Here and there. The restaurant waiters give me. When they see me smile and wave at them, they smile back and hurry to go out to give me food. I don’t have to go inside, which is not allowed. A smile is contagious. It’s a magic wand. Without it, I go hungry.

 

Vincent
Aren’t you lonely?

 

Vanessa
Never. I have a guardian angel, better than some parents. She hugs me when I wake up in the morning, and tucks me to bed, I mean to the cardboard. We talk a lot, especially at night before I sleep.  We pray together.

 

Vincent
A hug is a tai-chi element, Vanessa. People need to be hugged.

 

Vanessa
Especially women and children.

 

Vincent
There is an exchange of positive chi between ‘hugger’ and ‘huggee’.

 

Vanessa
My guardian angel takes care of that. She must know tai-chi.

 

Vincent
Listen, I got a great idea. How would you like to be my assistant teacher? That is, if you’re not afraid of adults, of very important people, you know, haughty snobbish VIPs.

 

Vanessa
All people are important. Why should I be afraid? But how can I teach something I don’t know.

 

Vincent
You just don’t know that you know. You have known it deep inside you before you were even born. So just let me ‘remind’ you, okay?

 

Vanessa
You will do that? But why?

 

Vincent
I think you are a better teacher than I. You can help people understand. I will give you a giant hamburger after every class.

 

Vanessa
Nahh. I like sushi better.

 

Vincent
Sushi then, and a big bowl of hot ramen.

 

Vanessa
Now you’re talking. When do we begin?

 

Vincent
Right now.

 

Vincent starts to teach the basic movements. Vanessa has a photographic memory and learns with amazing speed. By the time the whole class comes in, he has taught her several exercises, both basic and advance, all in one short session. Tai-chi is natural to her. His tai-chi class gathers around them, watching.

 

Vincent
Class, let me introduce you to our new assistant teacher. I think this amazing girl was a Chinese Buddhist monk in another life. Remember, if I am suddenly absent, Vanessa takes over.

 

The class does not take him seriously. By the end of the lessons in advance exercises that day, which takes all morning, Vanessa is a veteran in the blink of an eye. She not only knows every move instantly but is able to process motion into a form of spiritual meditation and expression. She converses with the Universe through her dance.

 

So, one day, Vincent suddenly disappears. It is the second session for a new class. Everyone looks at Vanessa – Gerry, a consul from the Netherlands, Anne, a snobbish middle-aged matron, Edgar, an accountant for the Dutch consulate, Jessica, a house maid from the plush San Lorenzo Village, and Roger, a bum. Vanessa knows right away she is the teacher for the day.

 

Vanessa
Okay class, let us do the first exercise. Just watch me. Watch intently, not the movements but the air around my body, my hands, my feet. See how I ‘talk’ to the air. This air talks back to my body energy through my movements of hands and feet. You have to concentrate. Without speaking, Vanessa simply does tai chi exercise as she has learned from Vincent. The class watches intently in silence. She does it twice.

 

Vanessa
Now let us do it all together. Follow after me.

 

They all begin to do it, amazingly with absolute ease.

 

Consul Gerry
This is amazing. I can do it. I am not bogged down by memorizing movements. I just move.

 

Roger the Bum
I have a sudden urge to be clean before tai-chi lessons.

 

Anne the Matron
You have to respect your own body and clean it before you can clean your spirit. Here, take this. (She hands Roger some money to buy soap.)

 

Vanessa
(Pointing.) Over there is a faucet used by gardeners to water plants. I take a bath there at night when the gardeners have left. (Roger nods.)

 

Jessica the Housemaid
Yes. My hands flow in the air. This is fantastic.

 

Anne the Matron
And when I raise my leg and bend my knee, I never knew I have this skill of perfect balance. I can be a ballerina.

 

Edgar the Accountant
That’s because you forgot about the physical aspect and jumped right into the spiritual. Amazing how a dance can clear my mind. This is good before I handle financial statements.

 

Vanessa
Whatever the reason, you are doing it. Don’t think about it. Just do it. It’s so simple what the body has to do, but the mind sometimes makes it complicated.

 

Vincent is gone for a long time. Vanessa, the child guru, becomes a sensation. She attracts a big crowd every Saturday made up of bankers, waitresses, street children. Even the policeman, who does not allow big crowds, becomes her student. Within three weeks, her class balloons to 55 students.

 

Policeman
Don’t worry, Vanessa. No one will harm or molest us when I am around. Hey, you (talking to a dirty teenage bum), you are not allowed here.

 

Vanessa
I am sorry, Mr. Policeman, everyone is welcome, rich or poor. (Vanessa goes to the bum and hugs him.)

 

Policeman
(Embarassed). Okay, no problem.

 

After three more weeks, the class is about to end. Already, a second batch is waiting to start. The park can hold only so many. Scared to attract the authorities, the policeman tells Vanessa that newcomers must leave after they sign up and come back on a given date when the previous class is finished. Matron Anne volunteers to be Vanessa’s secretary, taking care of registration.

 

Lady
I learned so much in such a short time. How do we pay you?

 

Vanessa
You don’t have to.

 

Lady
No. That’s unfair. What can I get you?

 

Vanessa
Okay. Anything under the sun.

 

Lady
You promise to accept it?

 

Vanessa
Yes.

 

Next day, the lady comes with an i-phone and an i-pad.

 

Vanessa
I can’t take those.

 

Lady
You promised to accept.

 

Vanessa
I don’t know how to use them.

 

Lady
This one is for music. This one is for games. I will teach you.

 

The lady places earphones on Vanessa and plays some classical music. Instantly, Vanessa is doing tai-chi movement. She jumps with joy.

 

Vanessa
Wow, I can use this for my class. Students can come and we play the same music while doing tai-chi.

 

Lady
I will donate the blue tooth speakers for you class.

 

Vanessa
Blue tooth?

 

Lady
Wireless. No wires. The player connects to the speakers by radio waves, no wires.

 

Vanessa gets other gifts at every session for giving free lessons – a talking doll which she gives away, a pink bicycle which she keeps, a laptop, a pillow and a blanket, a jacket, a one-year gift certificate at a fine-dining restaurant from its owner. She asks the waiters to give her extras to take out, which she gives to the bums and beggars all around. She never accepts cash only because she does not know how much to charge. After all, she gets food and bath for free. She has everything she needs.

 

One day, she gets a letter from Vincent. He has colon cancer and can no longer come back, not saying where he is. Vanessa weeps. She names her ‘school’ Vincent’s School of Wisdom. After two years, Vincent is healed, cancer-free. He suddenly appears out of nowhere at the park. Vincent and Vanessa embrace each other.

 

Vincent
Wow. Tai-chi on Chopin. That’s an innovation.

 

The homeless orphan Vanessa is a happy child of the Universe.

 

By eastwind, Bernie V. Lopez
 
Order the authors’ book of true stories, a collection of 50 anecdotes
Request for TEN WISDOMS OF THE LORD’S PRAYER at eastwindreplyctr@gmail.com
 
SIDE BAR – WILL THERE BE MORE MARAWIS TO COME?
Author’s article in the Inquirer -
http://opinion.inquirer.net/108270/will-marawis-come

 

OTHER FAMOUS eastwind ANECDOTES

 

1 – THE WOMAN WARRIOR
Once in a while, we see a glimmer of heroism in desert dunes.
http://www.sisterraquel.com/2015/06/the-woman-warrior

 

2 – YOU CAN’T BUY HAPPINESS
http://www.sisterraquel.com/2012/07/eastwind-journals-41

 

 

x
 
 
 
eastwind

 

Mini Library of eastwind true stories -
1- YOU CAN’T BUY HAPPINESS * Based on a true story
http://www.sisterraquel.com/2017/10/how-to-win
 
 
 
amdg
Mother Ignacia Healing Ministry27 Oct 2017 02:11 pm

Slide show on the Messages of Our Lady of Fatima

Please click the link below to download the PowerPoint Presentation

MESSAGES OF OUR LADY OF FATIMA

Apologies – no music.

00 fatima messages 100-yr anniv

Mother Ignacia Healing Ministry27 Oct 2017 01:59 pm

Prayer for Healing of Mankind and Planet Earth * Slide show on Fatima messages (100-year anniversary) * eastwind

PRAYER FOR HEALING OF MANKIND AND MOTHER EARTH
Free download – Slide Show on Fatima Disaster Prophecies (100 year anniversary)
 
This year is the 100-year anniversary of Our Lady of Fatima, whose prophecies of global disasters have been fulfilled through the decades, and through whose intercession we pray to the Lord for the healing of Mankind and Mother Earth.
 
eastwind journals
http://www.sisterraquel.com/2017/10/prayer-for
 
Prayers and atonement for sins can save people from disasters, as in Hiroshima.

Let us pray for the healing of Mankind and of Mother Earth –
THREE HAIL MARYs right now from our keyboards and keypads.
Let us pray for –
  • Safety from global disasters.
  • Cooperation towards the reversal of climate change and poisoning of the Earth.
  • The reign of sharing over greed in an age of want and dwindling resources.
  • World peace and reconciliation. Safety from wars and terrorism.
  • Healing of war wounds, of hatred and vengeance. The reign of forgiveness.
  • Inner peace and healing for our families in a chaotic and poisoned world.
  • The forgiveness of sins, cause of disasters, wars, and pandemics.
  • Reparations and atonement for sins. Conversion of sinners.
Our Lady of Fatima, whom Jesus could not refuse at the Wedding at Cana, pray for us sinners and guide us towards your Son to heal us and our Earth. Amen. (Please pass.)

 

Slide Presentation on the Disaster Messages of Our Lady of Fatima
http://www.sisterraquel.com/2017/10/slide-show

 

Mini-Library of Articles on major Marian Events
http://www.sisterraquel.com/2017/10/mini-library

 

Send this to friends –
http://www.sisterraquel.com/2017/10/prayer-for

 

amdg

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