A Matchstick

            Déjà vu?! Maybe for some this is a new expression. Actually, it is a French phrase for “already seen” or something that has happened before.

            I went to a sublime feast here in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada last October 2, 2015. The energy of the venue outside was high and when I entered into the big and spacious room I immediately felt a sense of déjà vu because this was not absolutely new to me. It was a déjà vu all over again flashing back my beautiful memories of motivational gatherings, popularly called “feasts”. I belonged to Feast Alabang, Philippines, inactive though and I was the now-you-see me, now-you-don’t member of that Catholic Charismatic Community.

            Ah-ah, a thing to note! The feast that I’ve been attending was not about eating and enjoying food with friends, though that would be an added joy for the attendees if food would be served at the end of the fellowship, but it was indeed listening to God’s words through the anointed speakers of our time who looked like modern prophets. The Holy Spirit’s inspirations and messages to them, which were passed to us, touchingly were transformed to nourish our soul.

            Attending the Kerygma’s Grand Feast this year at the Broadway Church at around 6:00 in the evening, themed as “Lifted High”, was a recent and refreshing experience for me. This exciting event was readily prepared by the Feast Founders, Builders, organizers, members, volunteers and the believers at large, especially the Catholics from different parishes and communities. By the way, my congratulations to all for a successful Feast and for the job well done to glorify God!

            I considered the latest feast as a spiritual hype that stimulated me; I even volunteered to sell the books at the main entrance. That was I really liked because I am, up to now, a Language and Literacy Advocate. Thereon, I saw and met personally the Feast Founder, Bro. Bo Sanchez and watched him talk with matching assured gestures and firm voice. Wearing his denims and a nice suit, oh he was admirably so cool; he delivered well the sacred writings, especially focused on the parable of the Good Samaritan. In silence, I also tuned in to Bro. Pio Espanol and got his message about his legacy to the Feasts. I got a load of so many wonderful things, such as the clear-cut declaration that God, out of mercy and compassion, unconditionally love us until the end of time.

            Among so many interesting topics that I picked up seriously, I liked the story of the generous girl and the “two matchsticks” most of all that Bro. Bo genuinely shared. Allow me to narrate it to you… The girl had several siblings and they were left orphaned. It was this young and very thin girl who stood as parents to her sibs, feeding them from a hard “rain or shine” juvenile labour that even angels would really pity and cry for these poverty-stricken orphans.

            One day, the girl was about to prepare the meager food that she could provide and partake among themselves when she saw that she had only two matchsticks. What a scene of distress! Yet right there, on her heartbreaking moment, she heard someone knocking at their door, so she stood up and opened it.  Good grief!

            The neighbour loudly asked, “Do you have matchsticks?!” With a heavy-cross-on-her-shoulder sort of feeling, she was able to reply. Feebly she answered, “Yes!”

            She gave the matchstick kind-heartedly and just one was left to her hand. After giving it, the neighbour left and the girl sobbed and sobbed like a river. She felt so powerless. Having faith in God, she fervently prayed. Not so long, heaven’s mercy and grace miraculously opened and poured down upon her. A compassionate and generous man arrived in their shanty and brought them to his own shelter. He fed and took care of them. That Good Samaritan was a modern guy named Bo Sanchez, our very own Bro. Bo, the Feast Founder.

            This moving message went through into my cracked heart. Maybe because just like some of you, I am also “wounded”, “scarred” and “marked” imperfectly and with heavy crosses to bear, too. The story was rightly connected to the church’s “wounded”, straight talk, bull’s eye- the SINNERS. I was so attentive then but let me skip over those details; from my heart Bro. Bo made sense. This was the reason why I was fascinated and would love to listen still to the unstoppable “Preacher-in-Blue-Jeans”, including his humorous “Papa-Please-Preach pa more” unreachable stature. That’s well-accepted by the Filipinos. Well, just delete the word, “pa” (which means still/ more) and the line’s meaning remains the same.

            “Matchstick” continued #kwento pa more (additional story to share)… As I was listening to the flow of the story, I felt really sorry for the girl and I truly empathized with her. Déjà vu?!... the story sounded familiar. It brought me back into my past when I became an aspirant of the congregation for the youth.

            Leading off, this matchstick which gives light bears actually the core meaning of my name. I am Luz de la Torre-Enriquez which means “Light of the Tower that Enriches” and now married to a Lombos guy. I am living it up for namesake and for the essence of my existence, however humble many of you may perceive me.

            When I was 17 years old, I asked my parents to allow me to enter that semi-contemplative convent and consider it as a High School graduation gift to me since I gave them the joy and pride for graduating with honours. Lucky me! With no “ifs and but’s” I became an aspirant and a scholar but I was already wearing a postulant’s garb for special reasons. There were lots of Religious Sisters there, mostly kind and gracious. However, there was one sister who always would like to test me, not only in my academics but also in my “diskarte” or my way to handle and deal with different things and situations. For several instances, summoning my attention on how to neatly iron the sister’s habits using a not so good iron, giving me orders to clean the big dormitory, the long shoeland and stairs in just a short time before my classes, calling me just to inspect if I was wearing the proper and complete postulant’s attire, and assigning me to wash dishes every night with hundreds of plates, silverwares and what nots to clean, dry and arrange them all in the cabinets or cupboards.

            Well, studying there and being under the vow of obedience (and there are two more- chastity and poverty), I was sent to do an errand one windy and gloomy day.

            “Aspirant, go and bring out all the garbage bins. Empty them and burn them in the fire pit. Here’s the matchstick!” the Sister said.

            “Only one matchstick, Sister?!” I uttered in great shock.

            “Yes!” she shortly replied and went quickly away, as if she didn’t want to hear my complaint.

            It was a big test to me. I confidently accepted the challenge but deep inside I was afraid. Long story short, I tried to figure out what to do. First, I removed and cleared the ashes and cleaned the fire pit. Then, I looked for tinder materials like dried leaves, scratch papers, candy wrappers, card boards, wooden sticks, etc. I recalled that air and space are needed to create fire in order to burn the papers and other trashes. I rearranged everything in the hole. Praying hard, I struck the matchstick at the centre of the matchbox’s side pad and lit the tinder carefully. With ready and staunch hand, I cupped it… Behold, there was a “light”!

            When there was already a tiny, single light, I blew it very gently until I produced a small fire. With the help of the flammable materials, it became a raging fire. That one matchstick, coming from the source of majestic Light, had sparked and gave impact into my crappy and uncertain world. All I did was to believe and to be patient in that difficult “scratch-and-try” matchstick spark against all odds and win big sort of a game. This was a simple analogy of some aspects of the reality of living.

            Eventually, I came into myself that there’s more than I can be when I’m with God. Not too long, my world became brighter, wider like horizons at greater extent and like the growing, increasing FEASTS that amazingly bless and inspire people.

            Let your “light” shine! Blaze your own “fire”! The rest will be a wonderful, witnessing story.

By Lucy Lombos