2020 Christmas Letter

Lord, help me to live this day quietly, peacefully. To lean upon Thy great strength trustfully, restfully. To wait for the unfolding of Thy will patiently, serenely. To meet others peacefully, joyously. To face tomorrow confidently, courageously. Amen.

ST. FRANCIS OF ASSISI

2020 has been a year of unexpected events that none of us has ever asked for.

A lingering pandemic, devastating floods, wild forest fires, volcano eruption, not to mention the economic impact all this has wrought to us and the world.

I guess, none of us can truly understand why all these are happening, but I surmise that Someone is telling us something … I saw an FB post from a friend’s wall:

“I thought 2020 would be the year I get everything I want. Now I know 2020 is the year I appreciate everything I have. “

The year started with a visit from Susan, Martha, and company who came all the way from Canada. Matthew was so happy to see them after a very long time! It was such a joyful reunion.

Time spent with Jun is always a delightful experience. Jun and Matthew, who’ve been friends for almost 43 years, were brought together by their love for Zen and meditation. Hope to see you again soon!

By the end of January, we were overjoyed to see our dear, dear friends – Dave and Wawi – who came all the way from Manila. They had to come up to Baguio to attend a convention, and we appreciate it that they took time out to visit us!

Weng and Babes — Jojang’s friends from Manila – also dropped by our house. Our pleasant exchange of light-hearted conversations, lifted up our spirits.

Jojang had a chance to blow her birthday cake that Tita Teri and Tita Lety brought on their visit to celebrate her 60th birthday! Oh my! What a delightful and enjoyable time we spent together.

Come mid-March the country – and the world – was put on lockdown. It took us all by surprise but  I’m still blessed. Why?  Because I don’t mind being stuck at home with Matthew. #cheesy!

Last July, our dearest Tita Dory passed away. Matthew and I were deeply saddened by this news. We wanted to pay our last respects to her and dropped by for a short visit to the wake.

We are deeply grateful for the love and concern of our doctor and friend, Dr. Chona. She volunteered to give our flu shots at home to spare Matthew the risk of going out during the pandemic…. Thank you so much, Dr. Chona!

With most of us at home, most meet ups are virtual through Zoom or Google Meet. This has proved to be a big blessing especially for Matthew:

What turned to be a global crisis during this year, because of the coronavirus pandemic; turned out, for Matthew, to be a time of grace and blessing as Matthew reconnected with our Zen community – Bahay Dalangin Zen Community.

The weekly Zen meditation meetings, the bi-monthly zazenkais (one-day Zen meditation meetings) and sesshins (Zen retreats) has significantly deepened Matthew’s  spiritual practice.

Matthew is profoundly grateful to our sangha (Zen community), especially to our teachers — Sr. Sonia, Fr. Efren and Lydia…

Finally, we cannot end this letter without mentioning our blog. Now on its twelfth year, we have grown to have 384 followers and have surpassed the half a million hits at 531,439 .  As our cyber community continues to grow, we never expected this blog to touch so many people. Thank you for allowing us to share our lives with you.

From our family to yours, Merry Christmas and may you have abundant blessings for the coming New Year.

— Matthew and Jojang

2017 Christmas Letter

When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand.

–Henri Nouwen

It was a delightful year of rekindling friendships for both Matthew and myself.

I was able to attend our 40th high school reunion to celebrate our 40th Ruby Year Anniversary. With lots of laughter and sometimes sentimental moments, I had a great time reminiscing about our wonderful high school years and meeting my high school chums.

When I got home from my short stint in Manila, it was Matthew’s turn to have his own wonderful reunion experience. Sr. Sonia came to the house for a visit. He was overjoyed to meet her, having not seen her for almost 20 years! Sr. Sonia is Matthew’s Zen meditation teacher, who played a major and transformative role in his life. Her guidance and encouragement has opened up new vistas, making him realize that there are possibilities in the spiritual life he never dreamed of.

Sometime middle of the year, we met up with Mel and Gie whom we’ve not seen in almost 10 years! We enjoyed catching up with what was happening in our own lives.

Another happy reunion for me was meeting up with Lolit, whom I have not seen in more than 15 years. After spending hours together having dinner and dessert, we both felt that time was not enough. How we both wish we had more time together!

Matthew had a celebration of sorts when he was again able to sit in meditation with a group of old friends after more than 15 years — something he loved to do. For many years, he was only able to meditate by himself. Thanks to the encouragement of endeared friends – Sr. Marijo, Flor, Nena and John, who made all this possible! Looking forward to more “sits in meditation” with you in 2018!

We capped off the year with an 80th-year birthday celebration of our godfather and dearest Tito Peter in a beautiful resort in Asin. It’s the first time I ever saw Matthew get sun burned. Needless, to say we enjoyed ourselves and the food was delish!

Of course, we cannot end this letter without mentioning our blog. Now on its ninth year, we have grown to have 333 followers and have reached an exciting 450,800+ hits! We are happy because people are visiting our blog, liking our posts and our cyber community continues to grow.

May this holiday season sparkle and shine. May all of your wishes and dreams come true. And may you feel God’s presence in your life all year round.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all!

–Matthew & Jojang