My soul adventure | Inquirer Opinion

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All flights have been canceled, Ma’am.” This announcement was delivered blandly by the guard, who was trying his best to contain the crowd wanting to get into what presumably was the holdover room next to the ticketing office in the airport. A Korean plane had overshot the runaway the night before due to bad weather, and passengers were clueless. Clueless not only as to when flights would resume, but clueless as to why the airline did not send information in advance.

The announcement triggered an immediate recall of previous conversations with my older siblings, who were more than a little displeased that I had booked my trips to two conventions too close together. What if something happens unexpectedly? You more than struggled to make it with the travel arrangements for your medical conference in Korea, and you are risking it? I replied that I gave my word and commitment to attend both. The end.

What were the chances indeed? What followed was an amazing race from Cebu to Bohol to Davao to Manila. This was the only escape route to catch the flight to South Korea at 12 noon the next day. Booked and with tickets on hand, what other snags can possibly happen?

“To all passengers bound for Davao, boarding will be delayed because of thunderstorms.” I was having running conversations with God all throughout the race and was saying what a comedian He was. Not again?

At 12:30 a.m., I was back in Manila, but my luggage was nowhere to be found. A nun and I were the only ones left in the conveyor belt area. Her baggage, a 14-kilogram sewing machine that she brought from Davao del Sur, was missing. Mine arrived but hers, we eventually learned, had been classified as cargo and was in Terminal 2. At around 3:30 a.m., Sister and her sewing machine were safely delivered to her hotel. She was a participant in a meeting for Catholic schools later that morning.

Looking back, though it was more than stressful, it is now regarded as an experience of immeasurable value for it was a speedy lesson in character-building. It was a sharp reminder to be more responsible, to plan ahead, and to always be prepared to think and act rationally in the face of unseen outcomes. That race was made amazing because of several things: friends and strangers who extended help to make the trip home possible, colleagues who prayed for a safe trip home, the accidental chance to enjoy the view via a ferry trip from Bohol to Cebu to marvel at the beauty of the Philippines, an unexpected chance to be a therapeutic tool to a young doctor who was exhausted from the anxieties brought on by disrupted travel arrangements, and the opportunity to meet Sister Jude Cabreros, a Carmelite missionary who unknowingly elevated me to the highest status, as a gift from our Good Lord.

“It was all because of the sewing machine.” This was the foregone conclusion to the reason behind the amazing race. Sister Jude was on a mission to fulfill her promise to a 78-year-old nun to deliver back to Manila the sewing machine that had brought her so much joy. It had been a constant companion on numerous missions and assignments. Sewing was her passion. Sister Jude’s end goal was to make her happy in her advanced age amidst health concerns. How can her eight-hour bus trip from her mission place in Davao to her flight to Manila even compare to the inconveniences brought on by my canceled flight?

Life is a tapestry of experiences sewn together. Life was never created to be smooth or near perfect. Welcome and savor challenges. These are all designed to lead to a heightened understanding and awareness of God’s infinite goodness, through people, through places, through circumstances, and never of anything physically tangible.

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