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Conversations With Nature

Caleruega Retreat Center Philippines

“Welcome to Caleruega!” The Yellow Bells on my right side were all smiling as I walked down the pathway.

“May you find serenity here, in the loving arms of nature…close to God.”

I released a breath of fresh air. The overlooking view of the Batangas mountains brought delight to my eyes. Elevated more than 500 meters, I could see an astonishing panorama without the towers and high rise structures that define the chaotic city. It was a perfect scene except that the sun was missing and the sky was grey.

“Where are you? Why don’t you come out and relieve this cold feeling I’ve been having since the day someone left me?” I asked.

I turned my gaze above the brick wall. There were rays of light that streamed through the mahogany trees; they carried a message.

“Remember that everything down there has its own season and time. You wouldn’t appreciate my warmth if you haven’t been in the cold. I’m the sun.”

I moved farther down the slope and arrived at the Koi Pond. The rustling water broke the silence of nature and its persistent sounds brought a calming stimuli to my ears. There was a variety of vibrant vegetation staring at me. I followed the walkways around the pond, but I could not seem to find what I was looking for.

Conversations With Nature

Then, the water murmured. “Oh lonely drifter, what is it that you’re looking for?”

I looked down. The kois gathered in school.

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“I’m fascinated by your will,” I answered, “I’m trying to find out where you’re coming from and where you’re flowing to…will you show me?”

I heard the water, the trees, the fishes chuckled in unison. I was embarrassed.

Then the answer came.

“I’m coming from the Highest Source and my journey is never ending. I flow continuously because that’s the purpose for which I was created. I sustain life. If I stop my journey, the soil will suffer drought; the trees, herbs, and shrubs that grow from them will dry; the birds, fireflies, crickets, and beetles will lose home; the fishes will die and decompose. Do you see how the other creatures are dependent and connected with me? If that connection is interrupted, the whole of nature will collapse. I’m not just here to flow and enjoy my watery pilgrimage; I’m here to live for the rest of the creations. I have to keep my purpose.”

I fell silent.

“How about you,” the water continued, “what’s your purpose?”

The rustle of water became louder, the fishes glowed more brightly, and the trees waved their branches. Then, I walked away.

What do I live for? I asked myself. What on earth am I here for? I rephrased my question.

I was happy that I wore my favorite running shoes. My soles ached for more spaces to explore; I was restless. I arrived at the Hanging Bridge. It was wobbly, precarious like my existence. I was a back slider, a lover of my comfort zone, and a waster of so many second chances. Should I dare walk on this bridge? Does the other end of the gap promise more delightful experiences?

Caleruega Retreat Center Philippines

I remained still at the archway, calculating the length of the bridge. The fresh air was blowing; then, it hovered at my back.

“You will never know unless you try again. What are you afraid of? Bridges are built to help people get to the places they want to be. Sometimes, it takes a pair of strong legs to cross a wobbly bridge. You seem to have that kind of strength. Be brave, be very brave!”

I closed my eyes and savored the air. My lungs inflated with renewed energy. The air softly whispered.

“Go on!”

I stepped on the wooden bridge. It swayed under my weight. Then, I started to walk. I walked faster when I saw how deep the gap was, until I found myself running.

I was running away from the end of myself.

I have shaken the bridge and emerged to the other side. I wiped the sweat that beaded on my brow.

Caleruega Retreat Center Philippines

I looked about. I saw the hills come to life with the sound of whispering wind and serenading crickets. The surroundings were pulsating with dancing trees, fanning leaves, and blossoming flowers. The fragrant freshness of earth lingered in the air.

My feelings have lightened up. The crickets stopped singing and I heard them say, “Congratulations for reaching this far! We’re pleased to see you. Can you sense how good it feels to conquer your fear when you invaded the unknown?” I nodded in agreement and uttered a soft, “Thank you!

I went to the bench and took a seat.

“How are you,” a mellow voice disturbed by musing. I saw a violet flower pricking its delicate petals.

“I’m just fine,” I said, looking away. It laughed and the others seconded.

“You’re eyes convey otherwise. Is it love that makes your spirit downcast?”

I sighed in surrender. “What do you know about love?”

“We’re always part of every love story. They always begin with a sweet romance, then the lovers lose their hearts. They break, leaving an unbearable pain on one or the other. Sometimes, they find each other again, sometimes they don’t. Are you trying to write a new love story?”

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I smiled weakly. “Not yet. Someone took my pen. I’ll try to write again when I have it back or until I found new one. And the next time I write a love story, I’ll make sure it will have a happy ending.”

The other bud started to bloom. It joined the conversation.

“Don’t be too idealistic about love. You won’t find it when you keep looking back. The journey is too great for you. Keep moving forward. Love is just there, waiting to be discovered. Don’t lose heart. Keep searching.”

I rose and began my ascent to the terraces. My legs became heavy and pain started to settle on my toes. I was approaching the highest point of Caleruega. Will I reach the peak of my journey?

Suddenly, the atmosphere has changed. I felt a chill creeping in my soul. The trees and mountains beyond never spoke a word; they were solemnly watching my movements.

I bent and rested my hands on my knees. I was holding myself from crying. The environment was very affecting. I felt a light push from behind; it was the gentle breeze. Inch by inch, I pressed on. I saw the Tent Chapel loom in my sight. Then, there was a rush of blood in my veins and my energy was restored. I ran to the chapel and before the altar, I knelt and wept.

Caleruega Retreat Center Philippines

In the silence of the moment, I spoke to God in prayers. At the summit of Caleruega, I received the healing power of God’s love.

Healing is here, healing is here.
Healing is here, healing is here.
And I believe it.
Healing is here, healing is here.
Healing is here, healing is here.
And I receive it.

***

Caleruega Retreat Center Philippines provides direction to the lost soul and a rest to the weary drifter. It is a house of prayer and renewal.

Caleruega Retreat Center Philippines

It is also a beautiful and inspiring place for retreats, recollections, and weddings. They offer venues for activities like youth camps, team building, family and marriage encounters, skills and leadership training, and art/music/care creation workshops.

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For inquiries, please email caleruega_philippines@yahoo.com or call 0921-830-4226 during daily office hours 8:00am-5:00pm, Manila time. Like their page on Facebook: Caleruega-Philippines.

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