DO YOU want to get a "Quality in Reality"?

When I was a young girl, I liked pretending to be a doctor. I even got a friend, a five-year-old like me, to lie down for a physical examination. I also liked pretending to be a warrior-leader, and got to lead a small army of my neighborhood playmates to bring sticks to “war.” 'Twas part of child play, a pretend grown-up game that sharpened my wits and shaped me to what I have become today. As CS Lewis noted, "Children’s games are so important. They are always pretending to be grown-ups -- playing soldiers, playing shop. But all the time, they are hardening their muscles and sharpening their wits so that the pretense of being grown-up helps them to grow up in earnest."

So how do we get a "Quality in Reality"? As the great English writer pointed out, the only way to get a quality, in reality, is to start behaving as if you had it already, particularly in your desire to be like Christ, a person blessed by the presence of God, walking in step with Him. Through my twenties, thirties, midlife, and beyond, I have struggled with a gap between what I passionately believe, and how I lived. I was prone to outbursts of anger and chronically sank into depression because of this. I wanted to live like Christ, but I was of the zero-sum game mindset, what I give I must somehow receive more or less equal. I was self-serving, and though I mouthed many an advocacy, I felt hollow deep within.

Reading the great chapter on love by St. Paul, I felt each time a stinging rebuke, "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing." (I Corinthians 13:1-2).

So, how did I get out of the rut of self-recrimination, and set free to live like Christ this way? "Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."

In his book, Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis, ex-atheist and agnostic, has this to say, "Now, the moment you realize ‘Here I am, dressing up as Christ,’ it is extremely likely that you will see at once some way in which at that very moment the pretense could be made less of a pretense and more of a reality. You will find several things going on in your mind which would not be going on there if you were really a son of God. Well, stop them. Or you may realize that, instead of saying your prayers, you ought to be downstairs writing a letter, or helping your wife to wash- up. Well, go and do it."

I started with this pretense sense, “dressing up as Christ,” and through mindful practice, stepped on “Real Ground,” loving very ordinary people, poor farmers' kids, wrinkled old half-blind lady, grumpy Cebuano houseboy (bereft of the gentle singsong, gentler Ilonggo tone of speaking). Yes, if in the beginning I never felt “normal” being “amoroso,” or “gapalangga,” the Ilonnga way, I "dressed up as one, Christ-like. I realized in the process, that to be the ultimate bride of Christ I need to stop the outburst of “Lopez” temper, reach out to the most simple in mind, the irritating person close by, the outstretched hand calling for help, auguring more demand for time.

Quality reality? It is attainable. Start by dressing up as Christ, a loving and generous person of integrity. Even if you don't feel it in the beginning, it will become a real-quality, blessed life in the Holy Spirit who as you let Him fill you, will empower you.