The Open Window

Antonio Zebedeo Abad

How do we make sense of all this? What is happening all around us?

He said to them, “Why are you terrified, O you of little faith?” Then he got up, rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was great calm.

Mt 8:26 NABRE

Many times, all the events of life just don’t make sense. We become anxious because we feel we don’t have control. It is a common Western view that I am in charge of my own destiny, until we realize that events just happen that seem to take away our control. We forget who is really in charge.

St Teresa of Avila experienced two events that God revealed to her. One is the transverberation, where her heart was pierced by the lance of an angel, so sublimely expressed by Bernini’s sculpture in Rome, like God was saying, “You are mine!”. This is the true Cupid event! The second is God revealed to her the date of her death, and indeed, she died on that date. On her death, they indeed witnessed her pierced heart. These are only two of many qualities that make her unique as a saint. Her closeness to God brought her in front of the holy grail during her lifetime.

For the rest of us, we make plans, then God laughs. Everything happens in God’s time, and His timing is impeccable.

I wish to share with you Brother Knights a personal story. I was living on an island while my sons were growing up. I thought that would be the last place I would live in and retire as a composer, as I’ve constantly moved through so many places around the world through my life.

Eventually, I had to put an end to chronic domestic violence and file for divorce. This became a hostile case that forced me into bankruptcy and foreclosure. I moved my sons and parents to a rental house, a rare find conveniently near the school, that we were able to make do with one car. At that time, I was undergoing 8 eye surgeries over the course of 10 years.

After my younger son’s high school graduation and entrance into college, the landlord gave us 20 days notice to vacate so he can sell the house in the improving economy. We had to move again and rented an apartment. Home inventory had been so tight, and the only place I could find on one level for my aging parents, with a yard for a big dog, a landlord that would allow a big dog, and a shop area for my sons’ bicycles was across the water.

Not long afterwards, my new landlord gave us 90 days notice to vacate so he could sell the house. Not finding another suitable house for our needs, I offered to buy the house. They just had to wait a couple of months to clear my bankruptcy record.

I started to think of where I want to eventually move, settle down and retire. I found favorable conditions in my Dad’s hometown. I also found a condominium development where the next phase of presale was my most ideal location I could wish for. I bought into the presale thinking that I’d rent out the place before I’m ready to settle there. I also started to make arrangements for my parents return to our homeland, quite a challenge with my Dad’s need for sustaining care.

At work, we had a very unscrupulous manager. Everyone advised him not to hire the provisional contractor as an employee. He didn’t take their advice, and so those people left, leaving us direly understaffed. This new hire just rubbed everyone the wrong way and I shared an office with him. Soon, we outgrew the office building and they asked for volunteers to move to the other neighboring hospitals for their workplace. I volunteered to get out of there.

That hospital turned out to be the best hospital in the region. If it were not for the forced move away from the island eventually across the water, the commute to that hospital would have been a daily grind. And as soon as we made that move to the mainland before we could even fully unpack and settle down, my parents started having medical issues, one after another, not at the same time, fortunately. As much as possible I had them admitted to the hospital where I worked. I would spend the night in their room and then walk down the hallway to work in the morning. Between the two of them, they had stayed in every wing of that hospital.

Finally this time, both of them fell seriously ill at the same time, my Mom with stroke and my Dad with heart failure. That was so much for me to handle, but I’m so happy they were in the same hospital where I worked even though I was off work for an extended time. That would have been a challenge if we were still living on the island, and if I was still working elsewhere.

My sons and daughter-in-law, recognizing all the accumulated stress I’ve had in the past 15 years unanimously recommended, and as my parents had advised me all along, to take early retirement. After thinking about it and how that can work, I am taking their advice. It won’t be a leisurely retirement, but a refocus on my main professional strengths. Anyone who is highly trained can do my current job, but I need to be a good steward of my unique God-given talents and further advance the state of the art in my fields of endeavor.

In the past year, about two dozen people I know had died, including my father. That taught me life is too short to not be doing what I was destined to do. My condo will be ready for me just in time. And the house that I now have a mortgage on? It has gained enough equity to pay for my condo after the presale down payment installment. This would not have happened if I were still renting. God put me in situations where the only way out was the solution that I didn’t realize at that time, in spite of the painfulness of the solution.

Everything happens in God’s time, and His timing is impeccable. When God closes a door, He always opens a window. I add that it is through prayer that we get to find the open windows. And often, we have to struggle through many windows of frustration to even begin to see the light. Once we go through the maze of windows, His revelation indeed shines in glory. This is only one of many revealing moments in my life, and the most recent that I wish to intimately share with you, my Brother Knights. It is not by our eyes, but by our faith that we see the light. Indeed, life is fragile, handle with prayer!

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