I'D BE the first to start fidgeting when someone leads a very long prayer. But that's just me. It's not the prayer, nor the one praying. It's my attention span, specifically, attention span on blabber, any blabber whether in prayer or in jest. You have to be a book, a canvas, a cartoon movie, a computer, or an animal I'm trying to win over to keep my full attention, but since you're not, then sorry. But that's just me.

If it helps boost your ego a bit, I would even start swaying towards the middle of Pambansang Awit because standing straight throughout the song is just too long. (I tap my fingers on my breast, too).

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Being so in touch with my very limited attention span, I likewise limit my yakking, my blabber.

Each morning as I walk out of the door to leave for work, I'd say thanks to the Guy up there for another day. A whispered, "Another day, Lord", I feel is enough reminder that I'm still there for someone who has to listen to billions of others scrambling for His attention every morning. He is God, the most high, I don't want to take up much of His time because out there, children are dying, people are suffering, I'm just starting a day's work.

It's at the end of the day when the long talks happen. Every night is a long conversation while staring at the stars, the moon, or just the dark sky, to recall what has transpired, like talking to a very good friend -- the thanksgiving for yet another day well lived that starts off on a congratulatory mood along the line of: "We did it, didn't we?"

Suffice it to say that this is all in protest against the self-righteousness made apparent by all those who are twice born or have found some fellowship with their God and look at me as some unworthy soul who needs to be saved.

Let the self-righteous satisfy their desire to appear good, we can always just be good and thus be better.

"Why are you reading that?" another friend asked as I pored over "The Hiram Key", just one of several books that deal with Masonry (the kind that doesn't have anything to do with mixing mortar and cement).

"Dan Brown's book made me curious about all these," I replied. I have a whole collection of related books, in fact: "Holy Blood, Holy Grail", "The Messianic Legacy", "The Rosslyn Cross", and a whole lot more, including one that a darn reporter did not return after she resigned. Ingrata!

"That is blasphemous," he said.

"Uhuh."

Will closing our eyes to unpalatable facts reserve a space for us in heaven such that priests with sexual malfeasances are simply transferred to other assignments? The Spanish Inquisition was done in the name of the Lord, wasn't it? Closing our eyes will just feed illusions, knowing feeds better understanding of human frailty and avarice.

"There is no link between our world and that of our dear departed," a pastor said in the typical loud pastor's voice in one of the services given during the wake of my best friend several years ago. I wanted to thank the pastor on the head but he was too far away. Couldn't he just leave us in our belief that we can still communicate with our dear departed? He doesn't have to give false hopes, but he doesn't have to dash hopes either. Apparently, changing religion isn't the answer. They're just as crazy out there.

"I didn't know there's a difference between religiosity and spirituality," a friend's friend said. There is, we replied.

But I'm not going into any argument about that. It's enough to know there is a difference.

And so every morning is welcomed with a short acknowledgment of another day and is ended with long talks and then the nightly prayers. The Bible is just there, beside the bed, unread. Not until it calls to me and I open it. Because that's just how I do it. Splitting hairs on how the verses can be and should be interpreted every day or once a week on schedule is just too tedious, too regimental, and too long for my very short attention span. I'd rather listen to its message as it speaks out to me, when it calls to me.

"Even in Kalayaan, you have always been like that, a special 'creature'," a dormmate at Kalayaan Residence Hall when we were freshmen in Diliman wrote to me on Facebook when I said that she only needs to ask for good weather to get good weather as they were preparing for a vacation. Oh, that long ago? I never noticed (although I did notice she said creature).

But yes, that's how my prayers usually go. Short requests, no mushy praises, no contrived compliments, just a short hi, and then a short talk. Just a simple thanks and a simple request and a light-hearted, "Ang galing mo!", when the request is granted, pronto!

And so I say thank You, once more, as I struggle on through what could be the most difficult year yet, as another day is done and things are very, very, very slowly falling in place. Praises, praises, and a humble thanks. That's all I can say. And yes, my dears, a quiet word sometimes works better than loud singing and praising. Because, if you were the one thanking and praising me, I'd want you to just whisper; not because I am ashamed of you but because saying it when only I can hear sounds more sincere.

Not so long ago, as a child (as many children have [before and after me did]), the most heart-felt gratitude and sincere requests were said in a whisper. Raised voices were used in throwing a tantrum or shrieking in delightful glee with your friends, unmindful of your mom who's being driven crazy by all the ruckus. But that's just me. saestremera@yahoo.com