My bataw plants are finally gone. They were fighting for their lives when the cold weather set in three weeks ago. Yesterday they succumbed to the freezing temperature and wilted.
Now I can not look forward anymore to steamed bataw in vinegar and fish sauce for dinner. What is left for me is to pull the dead plants out from the plastic pots I had planted them in and untangle them from the bamboo trellises I made for them and just put them in the compost pit. If and when I decide to plant some bataw again next year (earlier this time), I will add the compost to the soil and hopefully they will fertilize my new plants.
I do not think that the short life of my plants was totally useless and unproductive. For they provided me the opportunity, not only to satisfy my desire to do a little gardening, but to be able to reflect each morning when I tended them. Looking at these plants trying to survive unfavorable weather and to fructify, and taking care of the plants' needs of water and fertilizer, brought me to think of important things in life such as the virtues of patience and of caring for people around you. If only for these, these short-lived plants had fulfilled the reason for their existence.
On a higher plane of being, there are lives whose existence is short for no fault of their own, like babies who live only a week or a few months after birth, or are still-born due to some congenital defects. Some are able to survive birth defects for a little while. But the preciousness of these little ones is not diminished by the short life they were given by God. Like my bataw plants, in the plan of God, they had a mission to fulfill.
Consider how much love is showered upon them by their parents while they are still in the womb, how they are nourished and protected by their mothers, how they are eagerly awaited by their family to be born, to be welcomed, to be cared for and to love. I think that these little human beings have in God's plan the mission of letting us know more concretely what it means to be human, how to live as persons created in the image and likeness of God, what it means to love.
I also think that people who have experienced lavishing love and care for a baby who is not expected to live even a tenth or a hundredth of the length of a normal human life like the rest of us have been enriched by such a precious gift, one so pure that it can only immediately go in the presence and bosom of God, there to pray for his parents and family he never knew. Because of such babies, their parents have become better people, better children of the same God.
I therefore find it difficult to understand why certain people would want the life of such precious creations of God, so innocent and helpless, to be prematurely, cruelly and deliberately ended, why they would want to deprive them of the same opportunity to live. For like them, they were also created in the image and likeness of God.
For those who love, they are being true to the image of the loving God. And for those who reject little ones such as these by taking their fragile life, Our Lord has a warning: "It would be better for him to have a millstone hung around his neck and to be thrown into the sea than to cause one of these little ones to stumble." (Mt. 18:6)
If one sincerely goes into a deeper reflection of the truth that we are all created in the image and likeness of God Who is All-Holy, All-Loving, and All-Caring and and lives it, then our world would be a much better place to live in and to prepare for meeting Him in eternity.#
(In memory of our precious and beloved Jerome, who is praying
for his loving family from the bosom of the Father)