Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Icebreaker: Lost and Found

by Gege Sugue

I am lost. I am so lost. If I had a dollar for every time I uttered those words, I’d be rich enough to buy my very own satellite in the sky. It will beam me directions so that I would never get lost again.
It’s not that my sense of direction is poor. It’s just fine. When I pay attention really well, I can weave my way through roads and get to my destination on time. I can find my bearings. I can usually tell where North and South are.
When I travel to a new place, I make it a point to walk or ride around a certain radius of the hotel. And I always manage to find my way back, mostly by remembering landmarks; it helps when those landmarks are salons, spas, and interesting retail establishments. My sense of direction is not the problem. It’s my short attention span. When walking or driving from point A to point B, I get distracted by conversations, billboards of topless men like Derek Ramsay, things shiny and bright, or just my own thoughts—things I’m musing, dreaming, or worrying about. So I forget to make a turn, I miss an exit, and I find myself off track.
My earliest memory of being lost was when I was 7 or 8. I joined a Santacruzan as an angel. I was all excited about my costume—big white wings. Anyway, my parents trusted that I would do fine without a yaya. After all, were just going to go around the Araneta Coliseum. They showed me where to meet them after the procession. And I remembered where it was. The problem was when we finished the round, and I looked at where my parents were waiting for me, they were at the other side of the street, and I was too afraid to cross. So I stood aside by the sidewalk waiting for the rest of the procession to pass me by so my parents could see and retrieve me. But it took a long time for the whole procession to pass by. And by the time it was done, my parents were gone. Maybe I panicked, maybe I cried. It’s a good thing that some kind-hearted adults helped me reunite with my parents.
One of the recent times I was lost was when on the way to Davao, at the airport I found myself lining up for the flight to Butuan. Imagine if by some crazy screw-up, I had landed in Butuan. That would be the most lost I’ve ever been.
But getting lost can sometimes be fun. Like when I worked in Vietnam in 2005. My apartment was a long walk away from my office. And along the way, there were so many tiny streets filled with shops and restaurants, gizmos and gadgets, colors and wonders. I would roam aimlessly, turn corners without regard for where I was going. I would walk and walk discovering the city, not caring that I was lost. Sometimes, I’d end up in a totally unfamiliar place, and it would get a little scary, especially when it gets dark. But I knew that anyway, I could always take a cab to get back home.
Now, the good thing is I always manage to get back on track. I have no issues about asking for directions. And that’s usually not a problem, except for those times that I mispronounce the street name. Mama, saan po ang Erestain Street? Erestain.
Now, how to I avoid getting lost? I prepare. I use Google maps. Or I use that technology called GPS. Or sometimes, we do a geographic rehearsal. My husband and I would drive to a place a few days before the event just so I can find it easily on the day itself.
But the best strategy is to let my husband drive. He’s very good at planning his flight path before we even leave the house. He’s very familiar with the terrains at almost all points of Luzon. He can memorize routes easily. And if we do get lost, at least I can blame him. He is, after all, in charge.
But how about when the destination is somewhere uncharted by Google maps? What if the destination I want to get to is in the afterlife?  Yes, heaven. I believe in all that—God, heaven, hell. And I don’t want to go to hell. I don’t function well in hot places. That used to worry me. I mean if I could get lost in Bonifacio, High Street, which is, well, just one straight street, how the hell would I find heaven?
The way I was raised, the road to heaven was complicated. Rituals, sacraments, being impossibly good, donations—those are some of the things that got you into heaven. If you miss a turn, you might end up in purgatory, which, from what I’ve heard is just a little more fun than hell. And then, there’s the issue that purgatory has very flimsy biblical backing. So in case, there is no purgatory—where will I end up? Hell? Like I said, I don’t want to go there.
I have walked different paths in my spiritual journey. I have experimented and explored, read and researched, questioned elders, even questioned God. And this is the good news I’ve discovered. The way to heaven is not complex at all. It’s really rather simple. This realization came from the verse John 3:16. The most translated and quoted verse in the bible: For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. No other conditions. Just believe in Jesus. No traditions. No donations. Accept Him as your Lord and Savior.  Because it says in my favorite verse, in Hebrews 10:10, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
Friends, the best way to get to heaven is to let God do the driving. Give him the wheel, and let Him be in charge. You won’t get lost. He is, after all, the way, the truth, and the life. He is the GPS, which means God Promises Salvation. This has been the most important lesson of my life. To discover that it is not my effort, not my good works, not my goodness (thank goodness), not anything that I have done, but what Jesus has done on the cross, once and for all.
I was lost. And for a long time, I walked around a maze—a complicated, ritual-laden, tradition-bound path that led me in circles, nowhere near heaven. But by the grace of God, I have been found. 

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