You see, I’ve been working in hospitality industry for almost 6 years now, and Easter holiday is one of our peak seasons. It’s a long weekend. No class and no work from Black Friday till Easter Monday.
In the Resort I work with , we take about a month or two to plan for Easter. We create packages, we prepare special menus, we prepare entertainments and side activities to ensure that our guests will have a memorable experience. We’re expecting that this Easter holiday is our biggest Easter celebration yet.
March 27, 2020, the Government of Ghana announced lockdown in Greater Accra and Kumasi area starting March 30, 2020. That means, no Easter celebration. No packages, no special menus, no entertainment and side activities, no guests. Due to Covid-19, all plans are cancelled.
For 25 years, this is my first quiet Easter Holiday. Quiet in a sense that no school or work to think about, no guests, friends or family around. It’s just me. I am alone in my room contemplating and synthesizing what’s happening around me.
Since the lockdown began, I’ve been scrolling through social media and chatting with my family. I’ve also been developing a routine.
On Palm Sunday, I saw a live streaming mass from Vatican presided over by Pope Francis on Facebook.
The Pope said in his homily, “We often think we are the once who serve God. No. He is the one who freely chose to serve us for he love us first.” He went on and said, “We can refuse to be to betray Him for whom we were created and not abandon what really matters in our lives. We were put into this world to love Him and our neighbors, everything else passes away only this remains.”
He concluded his homily with, “Don’t be afraid to devote your life to God and to others. It pays. For life is a gift we receive only when we give ourselves away and our deepest joy comes from saying yes to love without ifs and buts.”
I pondered for a while. How do I love without ifs and buts? I asked a dependable friend for answers, Google. I searched “How to love God” has about 1,730,000,000 results and “How to love your neighbor” has about 309,000,000 results. I also searched for “How to love”, and I got 6,040,000,000 results. That’s a lot of input for a three word question. On top of Google search results is Lil Wayne – How to Love (official music video).
But seriously though, how do you devote yourself to God and to others without ifs and buts? Without making it feel like it’s an obligation? I am no preacher, I am a hotelier. I am looking for answers and this is my reflection.
How to love God?
I studied in Catholic schools, I took “Good Manners and Right Conduct” and “Values” classes at school, I was a member of Youth for Christ, I go to church and listen to homilies; I should know how to properly love God, right?
Well, I actually have no idea. I am still learning. The thing is I know ,in my mind, how to do it, but I am struggling with execution. I find the teachings quite difficult to swallow because the information being laid down are too idealistic. I understand that we should aim perfection when loving God, but it’s too much for me to handle. It’s an information overload.
The teachings make sense and doesn’t make sense at the same time.
Last year, I bumped into a book titled “The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry” written by John Mark Comer. In this book, Pastor John Mark Comer lays down ways on how we could get closer to God and have the life we aim to have. He called hurry a disease that is a danger to physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. He understood that by emulating how Jesus live his life here on earth, we could find answers on how live a more satisfying life.
I have actually forgotten about this book until now. I am yet to review the points and integrate them into my life. This is much easier for me to assimilate. It is more realistic in a sense. I am just hoping that it will lead me to the path I wish to travel.
How to love my neighbors as I love myself?
I saw an article from Woman’s Day on how to fall in love, according to a marriage therapist. The post explains that in order to love someone, you should love yourself first. Seems selfish huh? It makes perfect sense though. Well, you cannot give what you don’t have. Can you give Php 1 to someone when you don’t have Php 1? No!
I also saw a video from Fr. Fidel Raura where he talks about looking after yourself. He says that in some instances, by thinking about other people’s happiness, we forget to take care of ourselves. By loving and caring about ourselves, we’ll be able to serve our neighbors better. Touché.
Love your neighbor as you love yourself. AS YOU LOVE YOURSELF.