It’s my mother’s graduation today. She receives her Master’s degree in Ministry from the Union Theological Seminary. She graduates with the distinction of being the recipient of the “Best Thesis Award” for her paper “Rites for Life,” which is a collection of rituals based on the stages of human development as put forth by Erik Erikson. These rituals are not the usual ones published in a church missal, and these rituals can be used by anyone in the faith community for events in their lives, whether celebrations, mournings, commemorations, or anything that attempt to lift the events of a person’s life out of the mundane and into something sacred and divine. I think the rituals my mother presented also include blessing same-sex marriages.
My mother got married at the age of twenty-three, was a mother of two by age twenty-five, and was a widow and single parent by age twenty-six.
She is a minister, an ordained Reverend of a Protestant denomination in the Philippines. When her husband (my father) died, she did her best to raise my brother and me, provided for our needs, and strove to send us to the best schools in the places where she got assigned to minister. And those places! From big cities to isolated mountain areas rife with the conflict of the mountain people and the government/military.
She also worked overseas, being a regional coordinator for the Asian region for a German-based missions organization. We, her two children, decided to stay behind in the Philippines.
She was in Indonesia when my brother died after being shot right in front of his school by a drug-crazed classmate. My mother resigned from her overseas work after that.
We bought land in the province where my brother is buried. After that, I kept the lighthouse… I met Ta, and Faith came into our lives, so I decided to stay in the land we bought and, with Tata, tried to develop it into something of a retreat, a place for healing.
My mother went to Manila and continued her Masters studies, which she halted when she went to work overseas, while at the same time being the Acting Director of a Mission House that caters to children of families from urban-poor areas. The Mission house is based in New Manila.
Let me take this opportunity to express my gratitude for all the things my mother did to raise me well. I love you, Ma. There is no other daughter more blessed than I am with a mother such as you.