When I was getting married, I cried, "Heeeeeeeeelp!" I wanted to call the Fire Brigade. The Marines! The SWAT team. Power Rangers! Batman and Robin. Lois and Clark! Jacky Chan. Anybody!

Why? Because I felt incredibly awkward.

To say, "I was getting married," was like as saying "I'm blonde" or I'm from Pluto" or "My nose is gorgeous." Because if you've been reading stuff I wrote a few years back, you'd probably recall these lines from me:

"My friends, I want to remain celibate for life. Will He give me the grace to remain so? I'm giving myself two years to pray for the blessing of celibacy. If I find it, and I really hope I do, I'll make a more permanent decision at that time..."

Well, that was written in December of 1995.

And I didn't find the grace. Sniffle.

I prayed for the gift of celibacy.

He gave me the gift of marriage instead. (Mom, don't cry too much. My son may be a bishop.)

In this whole discernment process about my future, I realized two important things about me.

1) I love being a lay preacher. I love it too much to give it up for a Roman collar and velvet stole and church altar. Preaching as a normal human being works too well for me.

2) My heart longs for a female companion too much, too often, too strongly. What can I say? I'm made for luv. (Oh no. I'm watching too many Meg Ryan movies.)

A friend of mine tells me that searching for the will of God "out there" is a big boo-boo. Because His will for us is in the depths of our hearts. We'll discover His plan for our lives in our DEEPEST DESIRES. (Still, it'll take prayer and time to find out what they are!) When God made us, He implanted within us a burning desire for His will. He'll never twist our arm and say, "Be a priest!" or "Be a nun!" or "Get married!" or "Be the Tom Cruise of the Philippines."

He won't force.

Because we'll simply desire His will.


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HOLD HANDS by Bo Sanchez

Boy and girl.

Sweet young things.

Around their late teens.

Both walking in front of me, lost in their world of cute cupids, beating hearts, and chocolate cream cakes with caramel toppings.

They walk as if walking on air, hand in hand.

Hip to hip.

Shoulder to shoulder.

Eye to eye.

Nose to nose.

Bad breath to bad breath.

But do they mind?

Of course not. They're in luv.

I watch this scene with amusement one night, while going home from one prayer meeting.

At my side was another couple walking home.

Friends of mine.

Not so young.

With three kids. (The eldest is twenty-three years old.)

Grandparents in the making, really.

In fact, the guy's balding. There's nothing on top except a few overstaying weeds. Airplanes can land in and out without a problem. He can sing, "Shine Jesus shine," with superb visual effects. He compensates by his bushy eyebrows, combing them upwards as far as possible.

The woman on the other hand is gifted, endowed, and abundant. Through her, the vastness of the Kingdom is displayed. She has cellulite deposits with interest compounded daily. Indeed, she receives all that life has to offer her. But to her embarrassment, people always ask her, "When are you giving birth?"

But this fiftyish couple does something that blows my mind.

They walk hand in hand as well.

And their handholding is so different from the way the young lovebirds in front of me hold hands.

This time, I know it isn't just a cutey-sweety symbol.

It's proven. Full. Real. Unquestionable. Pregnant! (With meaning!) Backed up by twenty-five years of cooking meals, washing dishes, doing the laundry, and raising bratty kids.

Stop reading. And hold the hand of your spouse. Your mom. Your dad. Your friend. And prove it for the next twenty-five years.

And beyond.

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I remember a time when life was a little simpler.

During an ancient, pre-historic era, there was only one Shakey's pizza store in the country - located in far away Angeles City. I was only twelve years old when my father would bring me there for a two-hour drive, just to eat pizza. He'd eat two slices, and I'd eat the rest.

More than the pizza however, I treasure the time I spent with Dad. In my heart, I knew that my father loved me. Because he loved me enough to waste his time on me.

Things have changed now. Today, we no longer go out of town to eat pizza. We don't even leave the house. I just dial delivery, and Dad and I can eat pizza. My father's an older man now, and so am I (Sniffle). Sometimes I pay the bill. (Waaaah!)

But when I really think about it, the deeper things haven't changed. Dad still eats two slices, and I still eat the rest. And I still enjoy his deep friendship, much more than ever.

As a kid, Dad and I walked together to Cubao, a local commercial and shopping center. And we loved passing by that tiny Shoemart - if you can still remember that ancient SM that sold only shoes and nothing else.

I loved those walks!

Just Dad and me, walking man to man.

What has changed?

Today, SM consumes 30% of the geographical land space of the Republic of the Philippines. And it sells everything else except nuclear reactors and live piranha.

Also, Dad and I are no longer able to take long walks. I've become a missionary and that has taken me away from home. But when given a chance, I invite Dad and Mom to hop along the journey. So we've gone together to different parts of the world.

They don't give talks or anything like that.

I still do the preaching. But from the pulpit, I could see Dad and Mom, praying at the back of the crowd.

They're praying for me.

They love me.

Thank God, some things don't ever change.

Because in this insanely chaotic world of ours, our kids desperately need to know that they can hold on to certain realities that remain true for life.

Or else they'll lose their way, and die somewhere inside.

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