Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A Better Version of Ourselves

“We have to think about what a saint actually does, what role a saint performs. A saint is a person set apart for their holiness. The saint is still a human being, of course, still a sinner. There is a famous quote by Fr. Bernard Carges that says: ‘A saint is a sinner who keeps on trying.’ But the seriousness of that trying, the relentlessness of that trying, marks the saint as beyond a normal human being. The saint thus becomes a model for everyone else struggling to make difficult choices, to behave well when there are so many motivations for behaving less-than-well. But it is even more complicated than that. It was always acknowledged, from the time of the early Christian saints, that the vast majority of human beings would never achieve a saintly level of holiness. So the saint is both a model and an impossible standard. The fact that the saint takes on the task of living life at a higher and unachievable level adds meaning to the lives of everyone else. For many centuries, human beings seem to have enjoyed stories of the saints as a way to acknowledge their own limits. People have been glad that saints exist and simultaneously glad that they do not have to be saints. There is a tension in those two feelings but not, I think, a contradiction. Confronting a saint is like confronting a better version of yourself, a version that you know you cannot ever become.”-- The Secular Saint: Philip Roth is ready to retire, but we can't bare to let him go,”

For Jerry V. Araos who'd certainly approve of something like this

& Rolly who turns a blushing maroon at declarations like this

someone said
in her sms before
christmastide that
i was slowly growing angel wings
& i was alarmed at
the mere suggestion of it

i thought i had better beware
& put a total stop to that
angelic silliness
get out of the buddhist stillness
by doing some wicked sinning
over the holidays
with the mutual consent
of the weekend lover
i have kept in a house with a garden
on a blue hill
beyond manila’s city limits

we would try going beyond human limits
like we did when our bodies were younger
& we had a kamasutra book to guide us

back then he could still declare
in true macho fashion
we’d try all those positions
our limber legs & limbs & hands & mouth & loins
could manage before we could get down to

but this season when we had the house
to ourselves, the children far away,
before he & i could get mid-way
to the planned orgy…

but does something like this
count if we’re married?
(even albert finney in two for the road
wondered aloud before audrey hepburn
went down on him inside
a two-door mercedes benz) 
...the news hit us
with the force of an alex rodriguez 
swing for another yankee home run 
that our favorite saint or sinner 
“thinner or paint” 
had hopped out his body 
& joined the ranks 
of merry sinner/saint augustine
the thomas who doubted 
the elizabeth of hungary 
who opened her cloak 
one winter morning 
& wondered why 
roses, not bread,
fell out of it

like a cake left out in the chill 
of a baguio morning 
we felt the momentum 
of our lovemaking grind,
as in a car, not the movements
of two pelvises,
to a frustrating halt, 
the both of us regretting
the evaporation of lust

it was just as well 
here’s a grade of excellent, 
we could hear jva saying 
from somewhere 
where there's a place for him,
it's a grade of "a " for effort

& that was when my 
unimagined lover & i
restored the gestures
that befit our age: 
the reassuring hugs
the loving back rubs
the lunch out on christmas day

sometimes my hand would be 
spurned now & then
because it had gone cold & dry
from the loss of he,
the big little prince,
who had warmed my soul,
my loss felt across the eons
of unseen miles dividing
earth & heaven

--Babeth Lolarga 
Dec. 26, 2012
7:17 a.m.
Photo of a blue Himalayan poppy from the World Wide Web

Memorial program for Jerusalino V. Araos at 10 a.m. on Dec. 27, 2012, at his garden in Antipolo City. Please omit flowers.
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