Welcome, Tobin

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014


TOBIN Riley is my only son Dux’s and wife Karen’s first-born whom we welcomed into the human family last Saturday, May 24. He is the reason I want to mostly savor the delights of becoming a first-time grandpa as I make passing mention of the social ills my columns should be about.

I’ve heard so much about the joys of being a grandfather and they were all just nearly right because I was simply wordless about how I felt when I first saw Tobin. Wordless still when I saw him breastfed by his mom and cuddled by his dad. His grandma’s heart melted, she tearfully claimed, when she first held him in her arms. Surreal was all I could think of.

Yet, this is supposed to be only the beginning although I understand as much that my delight later in Tobin’s life will no longer be the pure, unmitigated and surreal joy it is today. It will be tempered by the harsh realities of raising a decent human being in a social milieu that is littered with unacceptable amounts of trash thrown about by man’s inhumanity to man.

I must, therefore, apologize to Tobin for the vastly imperfect world I helped to make not so much with my indifference as with my inadequate involvement.But more than apologize, I commit to him my perseverance in the never-finished work of making this world a better place to live in.

Hence, my prayer is in this “Love Poem to God” that I have adopted for myself. I hope someday Tobin will make it his own:

I believe in all that has never yet been spoken.
I want to free what waits within me
so that what no one has dared to wish for
may for once spring clear
without my contriving.
If this is arrogant, God, forgive me,
but this is what I need to say.
May what I do flow from me like a river,
no forcing and no holding back,
the way it is with children.
Then in these swelling and ebbing currents,
These deepening tides moving out, returning,
I will sing you as no one ever has,
streaming through widening channels
into the open sea.

--Rainer Maria Rilke, “Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God” (Translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 28, 2014.

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