“Why, you do not even know that will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a while and then vanishes.” — James 4:14
Early afternoon last Sunday, I received news from Manila that Em Silvino, a young man whose wedding I officiated almost two years ago, drowned during a family outing in Real, Quezon. It was Em’s 27th birthday. Em’s condition was immediately declared serious. He was already unconscious when his body was taken to shore. After emergency interventions were administered in a nearby local hospital, Em was rushed Monday dawn to St. Luke’s Hospital and was immediately placed on intensive critical care.
Em was first introduced to me by then fiancé, Rina Navarro, great granddaughter of the late Bishop Cipriano Navarro, one of the founding members of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP). From that first meeting, I knew he was truly in love. It did not surprise me when Em and Rina, after much prayer, decided to get married. Together with Rev. Mina Navarro-Palomo, aunt of Rina and granddaughter of Bishop Navarro, I co-officiated their wedding on January 24, 2009 at UCCP-Cosmopolitan Church. The Lord graciously granted their prayers for a child. Zion Emmanuel was born December 2009 and was baptized 28 days before the drowning incident.
The doctors have already declared Em brain dead. Still, we — his family, friends and prayer partners— are hoping and praying for a miracle. Certainly, the odds are too great and the chances are very slim. But you see, in these kinds of situations, a miracle is the only thing that you can hold on to. But while we are waiting in prayer, there is much to think and pray about for ourselves. It’s amazing how one incident can speak a thousand words to one’s spirit. The lessons to learn are far too glaring. The insights to glean are profoundly life-changing.
Life is brief— too brief than we can all understand or imagine. In the words of James, we— the complicated and convoluted creatures we call humans — are simply mist. We are here today, but so gone tomorrow. In a flash of a second, our life can be snuffed out of us, and we cannot even bargain or complain. This is why we all wonder, why we— “mists”— think so highly of ourselves. Why do we have such lofty thoughts of our feats and exploits? Why do we continue to live in our delusions that we are masters of our own destinies? And why are we still fooling ourselves that God is not part of the equation we call life?
Renowned British physicist Stephen Hawking, speaking of his new book “The Grand Design” which he co-authored with American physicist Leonard Mlodinow claims, “Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist. It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going.”
Such statements send shivers down my spine. Certainly we are all entitled to our views. But personally, I do not find value in using scientific jargons to exude a kind of profundity that challenges the very core of who I am, what I believe and what truly holds the whole world together. When a young, promising and energetic husband and father who is in the threshold of his career fights for his dear life— and when the reality of exuberant hospital bills confront you or the inevitability of death stares at you squarely, it is absurd to think that it is not necessary to invoke God.
These past days, I have become more grateful to the Lord for the gift of life— for the blessing of being able to embrace my husband and hold my children close— for being able to take each breath with unbelievable ease— for being able to speak my mind —- to go to places— and to make a difference in the lives of people. I am most grateful for the realization that we— mere mists— are unbelievably precious and of great worth in the eyes of God. Indeed, we are here today and gone tomorrow. But while we are still here today, may we find it in our hearts to be more cognizant of the purity and sincerity of Christ’s love — to be more grateful for what we have— more appreciative of the family and friends who bring out the very best in us— more attentive to what we are truly living for— and more mindful of the truth that life is a gift— a very wonderful and prized gift that only God can give and take away. God bless you and be with you dearest Em!