Most of us have exceptionally good memories that nothing, and no one, can steal from us.
These memories can be quietly splendid or hysterically marvelous. But one thing they have in common is this: they make us smile, even secretly. They remind us that God is the Source of all good things which He cascades onto us in His perfect time, and in perfectly-calibrated doses.
When I was in highschool, I’d spend some of my summers in Davao with my Chinese cousins. We were a noisy, easy-going, laughter-prone lot. We loved to go to the beach even if we didn’t like to swim. We loved to go bowling, chill out in nice hotels, go to impromptu parties at night, go shopping in Aldevinco (hope I spelled this correctly), ride around the city on “errands,” and most of all, WE LOVED TO EAT. This was way before food bloggers and food porn became a subculture. Food was always part of our daily agenda: unlimited grilled tuna, crabs cooked in at least three different ways, giant prawns swimming in coconut milk and chili, gooey beef tendon with black mushrooms, greaseless chicharon bulaklak, grilled or barbecued everything, and not to forget — our precious midnight lomi. My girl cousin and I shared her room for the summer. We’d often talk till 2am about anything that blipped in our radar. She was a serious girl but fun to be with; intelligent, kind and soft-spoken, totally non-judgmental or rigid. I liked her a lot. And one of our safest, most comfortable cocoon-moments was when we’d order some midnight lomi. I remember how we’d chat beside their big wooden doors, waiting for the delivery boy to come. We’d eat the hot lomi on my aunt’s huge dining table, often in silence. Just concentrating on how good it was. Happy and content as we slurped down our lomi. Our midnight lomi was the perfect ending to our day. Everything was good in our world.
Everything. As we grew older, went to college, worked, got married, and had kids — we faced our own rude awakenings. Life, we discovered, wasn’t easy at all. Marriage could be such a painful, treacherous walk to Calvary. But my cousin and I never lost touch. Neither did we hide or sugarcoat our problems to each other. Calling each other long distance wasn’t a problem even if it made a dent in our budgets. When her life was in shambles, she and her children stayed with us for a month. That’s when we had our adult version of midnight lomi. Over big spoonfuls of my mom’s delicious, home-cooked lomi, we talked about the possible solutions to the predicament she was in. One of the major solutions presented itself because of God’s perfect timing. Our church was having a couples retreat then, so my husband and I sponsored her so that she could attend it, even by herself. We allowed singles (about to get married), or solo marrieds to attend if they wanted to learn about God’s blueprint for marriage. In His mercy, God used that couples retreat to save my cousin’s marriage. We asked her husband to come over to our house, listen to our suggestions. By God’s grace, he listened. While it wasn’t a perfect marriage (well, whose marriage is perfect, anyway?) it was a marriage that God Himself restored. When we last visited them in Chicago, we gave this couple a chance to make sure that they commit their lives to Christ. They both did. Personally, it was the perfect antidote to an imperfect marriage. Most of us have unforgettable, priceless moments that we’ve shared with some people. Moments that are good, and stand the test of time. We must use those moments — those shared experiences, those ties forged by meaningful exchanges — to lift each other up when we fall headlong into pits of danger, depression, or despair. The bowls of comforting midnight lomi were meant to give us not just happy, youthful memories — but also strong bonds to help each other survive the inevitable storms of life. Use those shared, positive experiences well.