De­cem­ber

Cebu Daily News - - OPINION - By Simeon Dum­dum Jr.

De­cem­ber — how quickly we have moved into the month, and so im­per­cep­ti­bly that it makes no sense now to say, from there to here. We saw no thresh­olds, we made no en­trances.

In ac­cor­dance with litur­gi­cal time, we have come to the end of the old year and the be­gin­ning of the new. I try to keep track of these seasons. In fact, when I lis­ten to Vi­valdi, as the vi­o­lins progress from spring to sum­mer to au­tumn to win­ter, I think of the par­al­lel seasons of the spirit as well — Ad­vent, Christ­mas, Lent, Easter and Or­di­nary Time. And this with­out much ef­fort be­cause, apart from the fact that the soul speaks through mu­sic, “The Four Seasons” has an in­te­rior feel, in that Vi­valdi in­tended it as com­pan­ion to his po­ems.

In a mall, as though on cue, the wife and I en­ter a shop sell­ing re­li­gious ob­jects, and there pur­chase an “Ad­vent wreath,” an ar­range­ment of four can­dles (three pur­ple and one pink) within a ring of flow­ers and leaves. When we ar­rive home that night we will light one can­dle with a prayer and a read­ing of scrip­tural pas­sages, mostly prophe­cies about the com­ing of the Mes­siah.

A good num­ber of these read­ings come from Isa­iah. In fact, the Gospel for the first Sun­day of Lent es­pe­cially men­tions him. Luke writes that “the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the desert.” As a con­se­quence, John went around the area of the Jor­dan, “pro­claim­ing a bap­tism of re­pen­tance for the for­give­ness of sins.”

John finds him­self al­luded to by the prophet Isa­iah, “A voice of one cry­ing out in the desert: ‘Pre­pare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. Ev­ery val­ley shall be filled and ev­ery moun­tain and hill shall be made low. The wind­ing roads shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth, and all flesh shall see the sal­va­tion of God.’”

Here, one does not con­tem­plate the words of John the Bap­tist, a ragged man urg­ing a life of discipline and sac­ri­fice. One comes here to shop and to eat, to gather the self again in, say, a cof­fee shop. Mostly, one re­pairs to these places to re­lease the coils that have wound up the mind and body.

But in the process one might give a thought to hap­pi­ness, which we all seek, which I think the va­pors of re­ally good cof­fee should sug­gest.And if one has a thing about phi­los­o­phy, one might even agree or ar­gue with St. Thomas Aquinas, who said that “God alone con­sti­tutes man’s hap­pi­ness.”

If one sees that, out­side, the sky has dark­ened, one can take this as a tem­po­rary hap­pi­ness — an im­per­fect one, the only kind of hap­pi­ness that the earth of­fers, ac­cord­ing to St. Thomas — to be in­side, in the words of Vi­valdi in his poem on win­ter: “To rest con­tent­edly be­side the hearth, while those out­side are drenched by pour­ing rain.”

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