by Lt. Col. Vicky Blancaflor
During the early days of quarantine, I joined an online retreat with the Companions of the Redeemer that used the 30-day Ignatian Spiritual Exercises as the template of reflection.
Being invited to join was a pure grace for me, happening in this trying times where people’s fears were magnified with uncertainties about the future post-quarantine. It gave me a regular time to pray and contemplate at night following the reflection guides given by our facilitators.
The first week’s theme was focused on our Beloved-ness. I then was able to look back at my life as some kind of an “on-and-off” relationship with Him. Time and again, when challenges crop up, I went back to Him in prayer, asking for mercy, light and guidance to know where to go from that place of suffering.
In previous retreats, I found that the cause of my deep pain and wounds was the fear of being unloved. I would go through extraordinary lengths to express my ‘love’ to my beloveds. When I found only rejection, I experienced heartbreak, as I asked myself why — when even as I did my ‘best’ to ‘love’ them, yet they did not give back the ‘love’ I felt entitled to. My expectations went unfulfilled that resulted to more longing, frustration and pain further becoming a cycle with my other relationships.
Then on that retreat – I am reminded, “you are my Beloved.”
When I feel most empty, You fill me with Your love.
When I find myself in the darkest pit, You hold out Your hand and pull me towards the light.
When now in this quarantine I feel alone, You comfort me with Your presence.
When anxieties arise in my thoughts, You calm me in between the quiet pauses.
When I am blinded by my pride, You gently remind me of my place and help find my ground.
Because I am Your Beloved.
The mind cannot grasp why but the heart can feel the healing power of this realization.
I am able to open up boundaries I held close before. I am able to feel His Healing Presence, His gentle urging to share pains I hide in my heart for fear of being judged. And now as I write again, like taking baby steps, I ask Him what else do you want me to say? This kind of writing is a novelty, quite different from what I am used to.
How then to discover and internalize our Beloved-ness?
— In times of fear and uncertainty.
When we discern we have no power to change situations beyond our control.
When we feel alone, depressed and find no one to trust or turn to.
When emotional wounds continue to hurt or lie just beneath our stolid countenance.
There must be a ‘lessening’ of ourselves, so we may realize –
We are still alive!
We are still breathing!
Our loved ones are okay and thriving in this pandemic.
We still have food to eat, internet and communication devices to connect with anybody.
We find beauty and solace amidst the chaos, madness and depravity that are on the media headlines 24/7.
When we know and feel our Beloved-ness, we appreciate our existence and the world He made for us.
By being His Beloved, we can magnify this Love to the people we engage with everyday – with a greeting, a call, a chat message – we can light someone’s world, share His love to others in simple or great ways of giving, doing, and loving.
Let us contemplate our Beloved-ness. For in that quiet space we will find His healing embrace.
Beloved Is Where We Begin*
If you would enter into the wilderness,
do not begin without a blessing.
Do not leave without hearing
who you are: Beloved,
named by the One
who has traveled this path before you.
Do not go without letting it echo
in your ears, and if you find
it is hard to let it into your heart,
do not despair. That is what
this journey is for.
I cannot promise this blessing will free you
from danger, from fear,
from hunger or thirst,
from the scorching of sun
or the fall of the night.
But I can tell you that on this path there will be help.
I can tell you that on this way there will be rest.
I can tell you that you will know the strange graces that come to our aid only on a road such as this,
that fly to meet us bearing comfort and strength,
that come alongside us for no other cause than to lean themselves toward our ear and with their curious insistence whisper our name:
Beloved. Beloved. Beloved.
—Jan Richardson from Circle of Grace
*quoted from our Journey With Jesus Reflection Guide Week 1 (Companions of the Redeemer, 2020)
**photo from chrisstthekingpriory.com
Lt. Col. Vicky Blancaflor is one of the first female graduate of Philippine Military Academy of PMA Kalasag Lagi Class of 1997. She is now assigned in the Armor Division based in Tarlac. She is a mother of two teenage boys.