“Question Me An Answer” by Burt Bacharach/Bobby Van (1973)

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Music by Fr. Nick F. Lalog II, 10 October 2021
Photo by Dr. Mylene A. Santos, MD, 2020.

I used to tell my students before that a person is known more with the questions he/she asks than with the answers he/she gives. Too often, our answers are wrong or not certain but if we ask the right questions, even if we do not have the answers immediately, we shall get the right answer at the right time as we mature in life.

What matters most is we ask the right question always.

And that is why we have chosen “Question Me An Answer” from the 1973 movie of the 1933 novel The Lost Lost Horizon for our Sunday music this week. Written by Burt Bacharach and sang by the late Bobby Van in the movie, Question Me An Answer may sound very American and colonial but still, the message is never lost, especially if you listen well to Van’s introduction to his students at Shangri-La.

In this Sunday’s gospel, we find Jesus being asked by a man and then by Peter with questions we ourselves also ask sometimes because deep inside us, we are worried that no one can seem to provide us with the right answer.

As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up, knelt down before him, and asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 

Mark 10:17

According to Mark, the man’s “face fell and went away for he had many possessions” after Jesus had answered fully his question which in turn bothered Peter who began to express to Jesus his worry over his answer to the man who had left.

Peter began to say to him, “We have given up everything and followed you.”

Mark 10:28

One of the beauties of seeking and following Jesus are the endless questions that come along our journey with him. That is why we need to pray always and ask for the gift of wisdom so we may be guided in this life that becomes more wonderful with the questions we ask, not with the answers we give, or even get (https://lordmychef.com/2021/10/09/our-secret-worries-in-life/).

And the good news is, next to Jesus to accompany us in this journey in life is we also have great music keeping us company.

*We have no intentions of infringing into the copyrights of this music and its uploader except to share its beauty and listening pleasure.

From YouTube.com

Our secret worries in life

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Sunday XXVIII-B in Ordinary Time, 10 October 2021
Wisdom 7:7-11 ><]]]]*> Hebrews 4:12-13 ><]]]]*> Mark 10:17-30
Photo by Dr. Mylene A. Santos, MD, 2020.

Recently we have seen Jesus answered very well the questions thrown to him by his enemies with evil intentions of entrapping him. But, in his answers we find Jesus so focused to his mission of revealing the will of God our Father which sin had destroyed.

Last Sunday Jesus showed us that more than the unity of husband and wife, God had always willed our entering into communion in our human relationships after a Pharisee asked him about the issue of divorce. Today, two men with good intentions and disposition came forward to ask Jesus important questions we also ask, something we may consider as “secret worries” that disturb us while following him.

As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up, knelt down before him, and asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus answered him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments…” He replied and said to him, “Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth.” Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him, “You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”

Mark 10:17-19, 20-21

Our first secret worry: entering heaven.

How many times have we asked the same question, “what must I do to inherit eternal life”? It is in fact one of the most FAQ’s to us priests, always begging for so many clarifications from every inquirer because it is indeed so important especially during this time of the pandemic.

Photo by author, 2020.

To inquire about eternal life means we are not that far from heaven because to think about it reveals our inner desires to be one with God our Father who is both our origin and destination.

The question in itself is a sign of grace, something we must always ask with the proper disposition coming from deep inside us who know very well that it is not enough to merely follow the commandments, to do what we were taught by our parents and teachers, catechists and religious instructors, and priests.

As we mature in faith or simply go on with life, we realize something is still lacking in all these religious practices we have like prayers and being good with others. There seems to be a “Someone” pulling us closer to do more to gain eternal life.

To be at this stage like that man in the gospel means we are a fertile soil where the word of God has taken root and starting to grow, but surrounded by brambles and other shrubs that need to be cleared with some weeds too that must be removed.

And there lies the painful truth: we have to let go of things like possessions and inclinations that give us false securities and thus prevent us from growing deeper in faith, in being more faithful to God and being more like Jesus Christ in forgetting one’s self.

See how Mark described Jesus looking with love on the man in elaborating the path to heaven, contrasting it with how “his face fell” upon hearing the Lord’s statement.

Today, Jesus reminds us that eternal life is a gift from God, freely given to everyone but we have to make a clear stand and decision to have it. We have to do something and cannot be like Juan Tamad by simply waiting for the fruit to fall from the tree.

While it is very clear in the Lord’s explanation that on our own we cannot do anything about it because “For human beings it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God” (Mk.10:27); however, after Jesus had accomplished our salvation by dying on the cross when he declared “It is finished” (Jn.19:30), he also signaled the start of doing our part in his saving mission.

How?

By going back to his central teaching he had reiterated twice these two Sundays – be like a child to welcome God’s gift and grace of entering into the kingdom of heaven!

We cannot let go of our possessions to join Jesus on his way of the cross to enter heaven unless we become like children welcoming and trusting God. But, this is something we cannot do on our own; we need the grace of wisdom which we have heard at the first reading.

As the author of the Book of Wisdom tells us, nothing is comparable to wisdom which we must all prefer above all in this world, enabling us to discern and judge things wisely. In his reflection, wisdom is beyond human grasp, a grace from God we must pray for like King Solomon who asked a heart that can distinguish what is good and what is bad.

When we have wisdom, that is when we are able to “sell everything” and empty ourselves of our pride and other impurities to welcome the Holy Spirit to guide and enlighten us in our lives. That is when we begin to allow God to work in us to gain our salvation, our eternal life.

Hence, the need for us to pray daily for wisdom, most especially when Jesus tells us of the many persecutions that come in following him!

Photo by author, 2019.

Our second secret worry: what about us following Jesus?

Let’s admit it: of the Twelve Apostles, we can easily identify with Peter the most often because of his big mouth, of his “damned honesty” in blurting out what is inside us especially when these pertain to things about our faith and relationship with Jesus.

Like Peter, there is always that “secret worry” if what we have done is good enough to be rewarded by God like entry into heaven. We do it so often in prayers and in those unguarded moments when we complain to Jesus about difficulties and trials we encounter that we worry about all our efforts going nowhere.

There is that “secret worry” within some of us who strive to become good persons, feeling “entitled” to something better considering we are less sinful and evil than others.

Peter began to say to him, “We have given up everything and followed you.” Jesus said, “Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the gospel who will not receive a hundred times more now in the present age; houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come.”

Mark 10:28-30

Here we find the goodness of Jesus who looked with love on the disciples and people without putting Peter to shame with his daring question.

What I like most here is the sense of humor of Jesus after he had assured Peter with all the rewards including eternal life for those who have left everything behind to follow him by adding “persecutions” as perks!

So funny but true! Like with the Pharisee last Sunday, Jesus must have read the mind of Peter in asking that question, assuring him it will not be as easy as a walk in the park to heaven.

There will always be persecutions. There will be a lot of difficulties and trials, pains and sufferings. And it begins when we truly give up our possessions, our false securities in life, our very selves.

When we reflect deeply into our lives and examine everything we have done and given for God, we realize that we have not really given up that much or anything at all. Whatever we give up and share with others, both material and spiritual, are all from God. We do not really give up anything at all because there is nothing here in this life that is purely ours! If we give love and mercy, if we share knowledge and wisdom, time or treasure or talent – they are all from God given to us meant to be shared with others!

Photo by author, 2019.

It is difficult to follow Jesus. The only thing very clear and definitive with us at the moment is the word of God that the Letter to the Hebrews described as “living and effective, sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart” (Heb.4:12).

The more we immerse ourselves in the word of God, the more we gain wisdom and learn to discern his Divine Will so that in turn we are able to follow Jesus on the Cross that leads to eternal life.

In these two Sundays while Jesus journeyed with his disciples towards Jerusalem for his pasch, Jesus had tried to reorient ourselves into the true demands of following him that is so radical in bringing us back to God himself.

Yes, it is not easy but we are in good company with Jesus our Brother, our Lord and Savior.

Are we ready to leave everything to follow him?

Have a blessed week ahead!

Pursuing the most precious

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday, Week XXIV, Year I in Ordinary Time, 17 September 2021
1 Timothy 6:2-12   ><)))*> ><)))*> ><)))*>   Luke 8:1-3
Photo by Mr. Vigie Ongleo, Singapore, August 2021.

But you, man of God, avoid all this. Instead, pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness. Compete well for the faith. Lay hold of eternal life, to which you were called when you made the noble confession in the presence of many witnesses.

1 Timothy 6:11-12
Thank you for the wonderful
reminder today through St. Paul,
O God our loving Father.
It is so true that many times
in our pursuit of you
in worship and service,
in the practice of our faith,
we "suppose religion to be a means
of gain" (1 Timothy 6:5):
in your name we shamelessly
pursue money and fame using
our gifts and talents,
wasting precious time in useless
arguments and discussions.
Let us pursue only you, O God 
in Jesus Christ through the more
precious things that enrich our lives
and those of others leading to
eternal life.
Purify our motivations and intentions
in following you, dear Jesus
like those women you have healed
and decided to accompany you 
sharing their treasures and very selves.
Today,
let me dare confront myself
to examine my following you, Jesus:
has it led me to qualities mentioned
by St. Paul to Timothy or,
has it made me divisive?
What does my way of life
today speak really of who am I?
Give me, dear Jesus,
the clarity of mind
and purity of heart
of the great Jesuit priest
St. Robert Bellarmine.
Amen.

“Casio” by Jungle (2018)

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Music by Fr. Nick F. Lalog II, 01 August2021
Photo by Ray Piedra on Pexels.com

It is another rainy, heightened season of quarantine measures here in Metro Manila this Sunday with all religious gatherings being banned again while other business establishments especially like the spa are allowed with limited access by the public.

It is a crazy set up. While we believe there has to be some health protocols needed to control the spread of COVID-19, we find it so baffling since last year when religious gatherings continue to be at the bottom list of essentials in this predominantly Christian country.

And the more crazy is how every time our public Masses are restricted, the more people troop to churches to pray and worship!

That is why we have chosen the British neo soul band Jungle with their 2018 “Casio” for our featured music this Sunday that speaks of heartbreak and dysfunctional relationship. It is aptly called Casio because it speaks of a relationship so utilitarian like a Casio watch wherein the woman is just using the guy for her own advantage like the people who have followed Jesus to Capernaum in today’s gospel in order to have food again like last week (https://lordmychef.com/2021/07/31/beyond-when-and-what/).

Casio, playing on my heart just like a Casio
Breaking it apart so you can let it go
Wait another year that's not original, or cynical
Alright, let's go now

When all your dreams are gone
And you're still holding on
You waited far too long
Don't say
I know, you know it's over

We discovered this electronic band last year at the height of the pandemic and since then have been hooked with their funky sound that is characteristically British – intelligent and no non-sense. You have to see the music video for Casio we find so groovy and savvy, perfect for a quarantine Sunday with family.

In an interview at San Francisco’s KEXP, Jungle members explained how in their latest album For Ever (2018) they explored themes – “to shake off their shallow self-doubt” by making “more vulnerable songs” that gave “new directions where they were going in the soul.”

The band is clean cut like most Brits and hip, they really rock so well with their depth and simplicity – exactly what Jesus is asking in today’s gospel so we would desire things of higher levels that “lead to eternal life than food that perishes”.

*We have intentions of copyright infringements to the following music video except to share its good vibes and wonderful music and message.

We are God’s handiwork

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday, Week XXIX, Year II in Ordinary Time, 19 October 2020
Ephesians 2:1-10     >><)))*>   +   <*(((><<     Luke 12:13-21
Photo by Mr. Jim Marpa, 2018.

As we begin our work this Monday, guide us O God our Father to discover anew this great gift of life in you. May we see ourselves the way you see us – beloved and forgiven children made in your own image and likeness — your handiwork as St. Paul beautifully expressed!

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so no one may boast. For we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them.

Ephesians 2:8-10

Let us value this unique blessing from you, dear Lord; in your power and supremacy, you could have just let us vanished and be forgotten. Yet, you chose to redeem us in your Son Jesus Christ, giving us countless opportunities to rise again, to bloom, and to be healed.

Make our hearts whole in you, undivided in pride, complacency and selfishness unlike that man in the parable whom we imitate most often, busy storing treasures for ourselves that we forget real wealth is found in what matters to you our God (Lk. 12:21).

Wake us up from this insanity of amassing too much of everything, not realizing that in the process, the more we have, the more we are actually empty and lost because all these things perish.

Only you, O God, suffices. Make us aspire and desire more of you so your glory and majesty may be seen in us. Amen.

Be ready, everything is passing

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday, Week XXIII, Year II, 09 September 2020
1 Corinthians 7:25-31 /// Luke 6:20-26
Photo by Ms. Ria De Vera, 13 August 2020.

Dearest Jesus:

Now more than ever, the words of St. Paul of your Second Coming or parousia are so true with all the deaths happening around us. Before, we used to take your parousia for granted: believing it will not happen during our lifetime.

And even if we do not care at all with your parousia that nobody knows when except the Father, death has become more real these days, something that has come to hit us closest to home each day; suddenly, we have began taking seriously our way of life, of where we are going to.

Hence, our tendency to shortcut, to find the easier and surest way, wondering what state of life is the best.

But, the question is not really what is the best state of life we must choose for it does not really matter if we are married or celibate. What matters is if we are faithful at all to you!

Photo from dominusest.com, Pandacan Fire, June 2020.

I tell you, brothers, the time is running out. From now on, let those having wives act as not having them, those weeping as not as weeping, those rejoicing as not rejoicing, those buying as not owning, those using the world as not using it fully. For the world in its present form is passing away.

1 Corinthians 7:29-31

Even if your parousia does not happen in our lifetime, we now know fully well due to COVID-19 that our life will end, that we shall stand before your judgment seat, Lord Jesus.

Your beatitudes remind us that to live life as if our life will never end is a folly, a woe to us living the “good life” of the world, of having everything.

Remind us always that true blessedness is to live with the knowledge that our life will definitely end; it is the start of wisdom for that is when we learn to be poor before you, to only rely on you, Lord Jesus.

Let us always trust in you and no matter what is our status in life, may be remain faithful to your and your call. Amen.

Quarantine to heaven

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Saturday, Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary, 15 August 2020
Revelation 11:19; 12:1-6, 10 >><}}}*> 1 Corinthians 15:20-27 >><}}}*> Luke 1:39-56
Photo by author, the Assumption Sabbath Place in Baguio City, 2018.

God our merciful Father, on this Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we start the praying of ten Hail Mary’s daily at noon until the 15th of next month for collective “healing” and the end of COVID-19 pandemic.

Through the Blessed Mother of your Son our Lord Jesus Christ, we pray for firm faith, vibrant hope, and unceasing love for you and for others as we go into the sixth month of our quarantine to help stop the spread of the corona virus.

But it seems, until now, O God, many of us still do not get the full meaning of this quarantine period with most of us pinning our hopes for a magic cure that would come to end these sufferings and resume our previous way of life.

Help us see, O God, the process of quarantine, of purification you want us to go through not as a punishment but as a lesson to learn and remember that will prevent us from all the excesses that have burdened us down lately, preventing us to rise like the Virgin Mary.

On this great feast of Mary’s Assumption into heaven, teach us how we may all rise up to your presence, win over COVID-19 not just with a vaccine or physical remedy and cure to the disease but on how we must change our ways of life, our attitudes and dispositions.

How wonderful, O God, to hear the story anew of Mary and Elizabeth who trusted you so much in the coming of our Savior as they both emerged from their own kind of “quarantine” period in this gospel scene of the Visitation.

May we realize like Elizabeth during this quarantine period that true blessedness is in believing “what was spoken by the Lord would be fulfilled” (Lk.1:45), that we entrust all our hopes in you, O God, not to mere humans who make a lot of promises only to be broken. May we open ourselves like Elizabeth who went into seclusion upon conceiving St. John the Baptist that you always come in the simplest yet wondrous ways of life. Keep within us that sense of wonder and awe, Lord.

“The Assumption of the Virgin” by Italian Renaissance painter Titian completed in 1518 for the main altar of Frari church in Venice. Photo from wikidata.org.

Teach us like Mary to always proclaim your greatness as we rejoice in Jesus our Savior in our very lives of humility and simplicity, obedience and surrender to your will. May our lives be a song of praise to your wondrous deeds, O Lord, like Mary that is centered and focused on you.

Cleanse us of our sins, especially of greed and conceit that have led to this pandemic.

How sad that until now, we still don’t get it.

May this crisis remind us that we are all in a temporary journey here on earth – like in a quarantine – that our final resting place and destination in the end of everything is in you, O God, like Mary whom you gifted with the Assumption of her body and soul into heaven ahead of us all.

May we all strive for the same gift. Amen.

Understanding the parables is giving up everything for Jesus

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Week XVII, Cycle A in Ordinary Time, 26 July 2020
1 Kings 3:5,7-12 >><}}}*> Romans 8:28-30 >><}}}*> Matthew 13:44-52
Photo by author, 2020.

The other Sunday during our Mass, I saw a man wearing a black t-shirt with these signs:

– = +

Of course, it means “Less is more” because a minus (-) is equal (=) to an addition or a plus (+)!

That is also the meaning of the Cross of Jesus Christ wherein it is in giving that we receive, in dying that we live, in losing that we gain more of everything because the cross is a plus sign.

This Sunday, that is essentially the lesson Jesus is telling us on this final installment of his parables wherein we have to lose everything in order to have him, the kingdom of God.

See how the three parables present us with one situation: to get the treasure in a field, its finder has to bury it again, sell all he has to buy the field where he had found the treasure; a trader searching for fine pearls sells everything he has to acquire a pearl of great price he had found; and lastly, not all fish caught in a net thrown in the sea are good to be sold with bad ones that must be thrown.

These parables are reminding us today of the need to exercise our freedom properly by making wise choices in life. Freedom is not the ability to do whatever we want but the ability to choose always what is good.

In every situation in life, we always have to make a choice; it is never true that we have no choice left to make. Choosing not to make a choice is actually choosing what is wrong, what is bad, and what is not good for us and for others.

We are always made by the choices we make in life. And that is why the parables are teaching us to choose wisely like King Solomon in the first reading.

Photo by author, February 2020.

Choosing wisely

The Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream at night. God said, “Ask something of me and I will give it to you.” Solomon answered: “O Lord, my God, you have made me, your servant, king to succeed my father David; but I am a mere youth, not knowing at all how to act. Give your servant, therefore, an understanding heart to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong.” The Lord was pleased that Solomon made this request. So God said to him: “Because you have asked for this — not for a long life for yourself, nor for riches, nor for the life of your enemies, but for understanding so that you may know what is right — I do as you requested. I give you a heart so wise and understanding that there has never been anyone like you up to now, and after you there will come no one to equal you.”

1 Kings 3:5,7,9, 11-12

Here we go back again to that basic reality of a parable which is a simple story of every day life filled with profound meanings. It is something we take for granted because it is so ordinary like the seed forgetting its great potentials in the future.

Many times in life we get distracted like today when we have a plethora of products and services available that we cannot focus on what is really essential and important. Our decisions are clouded even erratic because we are so distracted with the wide array of choices to make, from food to eat to clothes to wear, movies or series to watch on Netflix or cable TV as well as music to listen from thousands of titles in our playlists.

And in our distraction, many times we miss our priorities in life, especially God and our loved ones.

Then, we end up sad and miserable, way too far from what God had envisioned for us since the beginning which is to live in joy in him.

For those he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, so that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined he also called; and those he called he also justified; and those he justified he also glorified.

Romans 8:29-30

St. Paul is reminding and assuring us in these short passages we heard from his letter today that God called us to be saved and glorified in Jesus Christ not by chance but by purpose. He willed it, he wanted it so because he loves us so much, assuring us all of future glory in him in eternity.

The key to experiencing that joy from God is to always abide in him like King Solomon of choosing what is good, letting go of everything that will separate us from him like sin and evil. For God’s plan and grace to operate and materialize, we need to cooperate with him like being a good soil that produces fruitful wheat.

Photo by Mr. Jim Marpa, 2018.

Our Christian life of joy

Like the Twelve inside the house listening to Jesus explained and narrated more parables, the Lord is also asking us today the same question:

“Do you understand all these things?”

Matthew 13:51

To “understand all these things” is not about human intelligence like being smart or brilliant but of holy wisdom or spiritual intelligence characterized by humility and simplicity before God and others.

To “understand all these things” and be like “every scribe… or the head of a household who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old” (Mt.13:52) is to be one in Jesus Christ, a person learned in the ways of God, who knows how to prioritize things, always making things relevant in the present even if it is an old lesson.

To be truly joyful in life is to just have Jesus, only Jesus and always Jesus.

It is easier said than done but we must try even little by little, slowly by learning more to give of our very selves to others.

It is difficult to imitate the main characters in the parables today – the finder of treasure, the pearl merchant, and the fisherman – when we always think of having more than having what is most valuable and important.

Have we noticed during this pandemic that whenever we would count or take tabs of everything we share, we feel sad and even grouchy because we feel we have lost a lot? And if we get too much in return, we cannot rejoice because we somehow feel guilty?

True joy comes when we are able to be generous, of giving without counting the costs, without thinking of what would be left for me because my only concern is what else can I give the other persons so that my joy can be complete when I see them like me – happy, contented, and peaceful with a simple smile or delighted by a hot bowl of soup or a hearty breakfast.

And that’s that greatest parable of Jesus of all that we need to understand and embrace: the less we have of created things, the more we have of the Creator, of himself who is the kingdom of God.

Then, that is heaven.

A blessed Sunday to everyone!

Photo by Dr. Mylene A. Santos at Infanta, Quezon, July 2020.

With God, everything continues; without God, everything ends

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday, Week XIV, Year II in Ordinary Time, 10 July 2020
Hosea 14:2-10 <*{{{><< <*{{{><< + >><}}}*> >><}}}*> Matthew 10:16-23
Photo by author, Wailing Wall of Jerusalem, May 2019.

Your words today, dear God, hit us hard, very hard especially after we have gravely sinned against you when we have “collapsed through our guilt” (Hosea 14:2). Indeed, without you on our side, everything ends.

And the sad part of this reality is we refuse to listen to you. We have grown so accustomed to our sinful ways, believing more to our selves that we can get away with everything. How foolish, indeed, O Lord that we would not stop until everything collapses and crumbles before us. We have been so drunk with the fleeting pleasures of the world, thinking they are the “real things” we badly need.

Open our eyes, our minds, and our hearts to your love and mercy, Father.

Teach us to be wise to understand your ways and your teachings, your offer of redemption to start anew because with you, everything continues despite some setbacks sometimes.

Let him who is wise understand these things; let him who is prudent know them. Straight are the paths of the Lord, in them the just walk, but sinners stumble in them.

Hosea 14:10

Let us take into our hearts the assurance given us by your Son Jesus Christ not to worry about what to speak or say when persecuted because it is the Holy Spirit who shall be speaking for us, fighting our battles.

Most of all, teach us how to be “shrewd as serpents and simple as doves” (Mt. 10:16) especially in this world and time where sin and lies are glorified and seemingly to be having the “upperhand” in everything, whether in our personal lives or life as a community and a nation.

May we see beyond this world where our lives and stories live on, continuing in you through eternity. Amen.

Photo by author, 2020.