Sunday, December 17, 2006


Once there was an aging king who, after long years of leadership, wished to hand over his kingship to his son, the only heir to his kingdom. The problem was that his son was far from being prepared for the huge responsibility. He was imprudent, rash, and decadent. He had so much to learn to be a true leader and a good servant. Yearning his son to be a good king, the old king thought of a way to teach his son the lesson he needed. And so one day he asked his son to spend some days in the forest. The son, although mystified by his father’s order, immediately consented to the demand because he dreamed to be a king right away.

After two days in the forest, the impatient son went back home. The king excitedly asked his son what he had learned.

The lad answered, “I saw how beautiful the trees are, how dark and dangerous the forest is, how cool the stream waters, how fresh the morning dew, how freezing the night in the forest.”

“In that case you have learned nothing,” the king desperately said. “Go back to the forest and let the forest teach you what you need to learn,” the king commanded.
Puzzled and dismayed, the lad went back to the woods. He could in no wise understand what he had to learn from the forest and how to learn it. As he wondered and pondered, the mystery and marvel of the forest enchanted him. And for six months he stayed deep in the forest. After six long lonely months he went back to his father.
The king was delighted to hear what his son had to say. “What have you learned?” he asked.

The son humbly explained, “I am not sure of what I have really learned. I just realized that everything in the forest bears a subtle shade of meaning to each other. I saw the mystical nuances of things as I enjoyed the music of the gushing stream and the singing crickets. As I discovered how vulnerable the beasts could get when afraid, and how they wail when wounded. As I saw how splendid the sun is as its rays pierce through the leaves and break through the darkness and depth of the forest. As I noticed how lovely the insects behave and how painful they sting. As I observed how the birds find their resting place in the twilight and how cold and dark the night can be. As I discovered when the leaves shall fall, and how and why they fall. Until suddenly I felt that I belong to the forest. I am one with the forest. I found out that something greater than me connects everything in the forest and makes sense of everything. I may not know how the forest really works but I think the forest is one big paradise where everything is one – a rhapsody that does make sense.”

Finally the king said, “My son, you are now ready to be a true good king.”
I may not know how Borongan really works but I was able to learn that it is one big wonderful rhapsody where everything makes sense. And I thank God that He has given me many wonderful years so I could be with the people and be one with the people – and so to be able to listen to them, to live with them, and to love them and be loved by them. Borongan taught me a lot for over nineteen years. The connections and nuances of so many things. The subtle shadows of meaning in the smiles and sorrows of real people and in their silent joys and simple hopes. In their pains and struggles. In their faith and in their love. Having learned so much from Borongan, I asked myself: Have I become a better servant-leader? That I cannot tell. What I can only tell is that, like the king, God always wants us to learn more and beyond -- because there is always something more to learn. God can lead us even to where we don’t expect to be if only to teach us what it means to love and how to love better. For over nineteen years, Borongan has been teaching me a lot … until now. “Until now” … because starting today I will learn from Tagbilaran. I took the purifying pain of letting go and leaving the place and people who taught me a lot about life and love that is Borongan. Now I am here with you, hoping to learn how to love better and how to walk better with God and closer to God … with all of you, my dear people of Tagbilaran.


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