Sunday, September 14, 2014

It's Amihan Season: Fly on My Little Kite And Other Poems

A critique on the poems of Sister Macarius Lacuesta, SPC
“Fly on my little kite
Do not let fear daunt you,
For the hand that holds the strings
Knows best and watches over you.”
Dr Abe V Rotor
Detail of mural by AVRotor
If imagery is more vivid than vision, take it from Sr. Macarius – religious, scholar and poetess.

Fly on my little kite
Ride on the wings of the wind…
Over plains and dales,
Reach on to the heights,
Hear the whispers of the treetops,
And the secrets of the clouds.”

- Fly on My Little Kite

She samples us with the timelessness, and the vastness of imagery that transcends to all ages – the young and the old, the past and present – and beyond. It unleashes the searching mind to freedom, liberating the soul with the confidence of a hand that holds the string of that kite.

For who would not like to fly on that kite in order to see the world, or at least to be taller from where he stands, or to turn the hands of time and be a child again even only for a while? That child in all of us, it must live forever. It lives in a dragonfly many years ago we captured for fun.

“Ah, you bring me back to my yesteryears
When I would run to catch you…
The sound your wings did make was music to me…
And then the childish whim satisfied, I set you free.”

- You Naughty Dragonfly

Adventure, simple as it may, carries us to the open field, and its pleasant memories make us feel reborn. Sister Macarius’ unique imagery comes at the heels of virtual reality as one reflects on her poems. Yet, on the other side of the poetess’ nature, she is real, she is here and now, “through open fields she walked… tired and weary, she slumped on the stump of an acacia tree.” From here she journeyed to the deep recesses of the roots of the sturdy tree. How forceful, how keen are her thoughts, true to being a devout religious.

“For their roots journey to the deep earth 
Was a determined search for water,
Unmindful of the encounter with darkness,
Where cold and heat would not reach.”

- Journey to the Deep.

Faith is as deep as the roots of a sturdy tree. Such analogy refines the moral of the poem. It is a parable in itself. The poetess paused. In prayer she said in the last part of the poem, poignant yet firm and believing in the fullness of thrust and confidence of a Supreme Being.

“Lord, sink my roots into the depths of unwavering faith in You;
Help me believe that in my encounter
With darkness, hope may be borne
And my life will manifest all
The goodness, the beauty that is You.”
- Journey to the Deep

While poems do not drive a lesson like hitting a nail on the head, so to speak, they provide a mellowing effect, especially to us adults, to accept lessons in life. Such is the commonality of the poems of Sister Macarius, Sister Mamerta Rocero and Sister Paat, who are respected literary figures of the local SPC congregation. Their poems have a deep message to the reader in the ways of respecting and loving God. They often begin with reverence for life.

“All you peoples, clap your hands and sing,
The God of Creation has done wonderful deeds
And the earth is full of His handiworks
All for you and me.”

We picture God as detached, way above the level of man. Great writers in the likes of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Alexander Pope, Jonathan Swift, Alexander Dumas and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow can attest to that. More so with Michaelangelo as shown in his mural, Creation. And yet we believe that man is the image of God. The anthropocentric view is that man was created in the likeness of God, and that he is the custodian of His creation. How lucky is man indeed to be the center of God’s attention! In Sr. Macarius Child of the Kingdom, she starts with a question, “Are you a child of the Kingdom? Then she proceeded to answer the question herself.

“Even with a sense of wonder
Holding a cup full of surprises,
Reading out to share with others
The joy of His abiding presence
Nurturing within your being 
The hope of eternal life.”

We may not know the places and boundaries of eternity and kingdom. They are too far out there for us to grasp and believe, much more to understand. Yet we have learned to accept them, grew up with them, abstract as they are, in the name of faith and doctrine. They are there laid upon the path we all travel. At its end lies our salvation, which is as abstract as eternity and kingdom.

Our modern world has become skeptical about abstract things. It is moving away from rituals of faith to rituals of entertainment. Action demands reason. Imagination cannot be left unquestioning. Even science remote from technology is theory. Religions too, continue to evolve, breaking away from the moorings of tradition and dogma. Mystery and faith are no longer the perfect partners as they did for centuries. And the world has become more vigilant against conquerors using religion for their greed, sharing the bounties of conquest with it. And religion that keeps the colonial master in power, sitting beside the throne.

Just like Christianity replaced the long revered Aztec sun god, and the gods and goddesses of Mt. Olympus that survived Roman rule but vanishing with its fall, we ask ourselves today, “Will Vatican finally lose its global power and vast wealth? Will cultism create an exodus away from the church?” And now come the cybergods, riding on satellites and the internet and entering our living rooms at any time without knocking on our doors. And here is a hydra of corporate cultures, a kind of religion itself.

Sr. Macarius’ poems do not deal with issues about faith, eternity, salvation, kingdom, and the like, endorsing them to debate. She does not act like a doctor of the church even if she carries a doctorate degree in philosophy. Yet in her own gentle way she invites the reader to the fold, riding on that little kite, running in the open field after a dragonfly.

For what is eternity but to be “a child forever,” (A thing of beauty is a joy forever – Joyce Kilmer). What is kingdom but the realm we once lived before we became grownups, in the words of Antoine de Saint-Exupery’ in The Little Prince? And salvation? Oh, it is in innocence when the conscience is not bothered. (The Brothers Grimm)

“Naughty dragonfly…I am born once again to a child –
alive and free.”

“Catch the sight of a tree… and rest for a while.”
- Under the Fig Tree

“Speak to me in the loveliness of a rose
Fresh and sparkling with the morning dew.”
- A World Full of You

“You sing to me in the chirping of love birds,
Greeting each other at the break of day.”
- A World Full of You

“Listen to the story of that grand mountain
Like a faithful sentinel standing there.”
- Fly on My Little Kite.”

“How blest and gifted I am to be one
With a beautiful world.”
- A World Full of You

“Lord, help me become the child of Your Kingdom.”
- Child of the Kingdom

It was a bright morning some two years ago when Sister Macarius visited me at the SPCQ Museum. She showed me these poems. “I have not written poems for a long, long time,” she said and that started a couple of hours of pleasant discussion about poetry today and its significance. She exuded a lovely smile as she recited her poems. “Beautiful,” I said, amazed at what a septuagenarian lady can make of poetry which usually blooms in youth. That was the last time I saw Sister Macarius.

The amihan wind had just arrived. I saw a tarat bird perched on the nearby caimito tree singing. Up in the sky a kite was flying. I remembered Sister Macarius.

“Fly on my little kite
Do not let fear daunt you,
For the hand that holds the strings
Knows best and watches over you.”

x x x

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