I have always viewed processions as a sign of devotion—a gesture of love, particularly for Our Lady, who asked for them specifically. Sometime long ago, for a brief moment, I truly pondered on why she should ask for something like this that sounded self-serving. I dismissed the thought as a bad thought and went on with processions to fulfill her request.

It was like a loved one had asked for a favor. And I–who love her so much–want to give her, my beloved, all I can, as much as I can, as often as I can.

This last procession we had for her birthday on September 8 struck me, particularly because we walked quite a stretch along EDSA. Part of the route included entering through Greenhills East. It seemed to present such a contrast: the village streets are not crowded, with no passing vehicular traffic, well lit, clean, quiet, almost solemn. Then we go straight into the busiest thoroughfare in Metro Manila-EDSA. Once there, we could no longer occupy the center of the road as we did in the village because buses and cars were speeding down the road. We can hardly even hear the prayer leader as he or she recites the rosary through the speakers snugly fastened on top of our slow-moving vehicles. Either the noise of city life drowns it off, or simply the interference from other radio waves bungles up the public address system.

Then we have to wrestle with manholes, potholes, water leaks, litter, the works. Even oxygen supply suddenly seems so scarce with all the carbon monoxide from belching vehicles filling the air. We pass the distractions afforded to us by show windows displaying beds, tiles, cabinets, and the like. Then, of course, there is a row of restaurants, all competing for our attention, successfully snatching it away from the rhythm of the prayers, the rhythm of the procession.

Yet, there lies the challenge. There is that perennial challenge, as it is in ordinary everyday living, that we must continue to maintain that rhythm from within. We must keep that prayerful pose and attitude. The world can bombard us with all kinds of stimuli, distractions, and even temptations, but if we keep that inner rhythm that allows us to be attuned to the Powers on High–the only power that counts–then we shall not be in such high danger.

The buses and passing vehicles can make all the noise they want. The prayer leader’s voice may disappear. The candles we grasp in our hands and continually struggle to keep aflame may be snuffed out by the wind, but if we keep the rhythm, if we keep our gaze on God, we continue our procession, our personal life’s pilgrimage without faltering or question.

The nice thing about processions is that we are with all these people who try and maintain that same rhythm. The people we are with have the same disposition and posture. And even if they are sometimes strangers to us and merely co-pilgrims, we look to them and turn to them when our candles die out. Each one is more than willing to help us bring back the fire to our small torches.

Sometimes, it is our turn to give someone the light. Even those moments are sacred. We have to stop awhile and concentrate on giving each other the light. The encounter might work, yet it also may fail. We have the wind to contend with and other factors to consider too. From that brief moment, we try to connect with our co-pilgrims. Sometimes, we fail to light our companion’s candle because we rationalize that we cannot afford to stop for too long. The question arises: should we then move aside and rejoin later just so we can share this light? Or should we allow our co-pilgrim to leave the encounter still without her light?

The reality is: it is a fact that sometimes these encounters fail. Lack of persistence, too much pressure from others, too many obstacles. Yet, if we fail, the procession moves on. The pilgrimage goes on. Then our neighbor, whose candle is still not burning, must depend on other people’s light. Only when she is willing to risk again or when someone reaches out to her to give her the light can she start anew. The important thing is: no matter what, we must not forget the rhythm of the procession. There is a distinct one. Even if we do not hear it from the outside or we get sidetracked some way or other, the rhythm must keep reverberating in our hearts. Mary called us to go out in procession for her supposedly. The truth is she just does not want us to lose that rhythm. She wants the rhythm of the Most Holy Rosary to be the background music for God’s love for us and our love for God. She wants our hearts, our souls to pulsate that rhythm of God. It is a rhythm of life that tells us when all else fails, and there is no one to walk the path with us, and our candles have been extinguished; God is there. God loves us. His light, His love never fails.

We just have to keep that inner rhythm and stay attuned to Him from within. He is the Light. He is the Way. Better believe it… this is the truth.

Jesus Our Light

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