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The winter of friendships

OSWALD CHAMBERS once wrote that it is easy to say that God brings friends into our lives; but what is most difficult to accept, according to him, is that sometimes, at the right moment, he takes them away from our lives, because that is what we needed. I was reminded of this when I read again some entries in my diary from three years ago. It was the dead of winter in Amsterdam and most of the friends I’ve made in my first six months there — middle-aged theologians from four continents — were leaving the Foyer, our dormitory. I was the youngest on the row — and the only philosophy graduate student there — and they all doted on me, their nino bonito, as the Cuban New Yorker episcopalian priest Fr. Juan would say. But that must have been my lowest point there. I certainly felt orphaned by their inevitable departure. I remember that when they were all gone, for the next two or three weeks, I’d wake up in the morning and look out of my fifth-floor window to see the dreary cloak of gray coating everything and I’d feel the inexplicable urge to jump out of the window.


January 29/07

By early morning today, much of Theology Row as I’ve known it since the last six months will be empty. My friends Joseph, Fr. Juan, Manasseh and Chris are in a one-year masters’ program in theology that is structured such that the first semester they spend in Amsterdam, and the second semester they spend researching and writing the thesis in their home countries. Fr. Juan was first to go last week. To New York. Josef is bound for Brazil, Manasseh, for Nigeria, and Cris, for Indonesia.

Josef, probably the most traveled of us all, had some words of wisdom for me, gained from his travels as a missionary on the Christian library ship M/V Doulous, which took him to more than 30 countries when he was in his 20s:

“One thing I learned is that we make many friends along the way and we should enjoy the friendships we make while they’re there.” He said he’d always remember what a Filipino friend he worked with on that three-year missionary tour had told him: “we can only make the most of one another’s friendships here because for all we know, we may never meet again, perhaps, not until the next life, in heaven.”

He had fond memories of his Filipino friend, whom he hadn’t heard from in 20 years, a chap named Emiliano Namuco. Josef said he was a fine singer and musician who loved to sing Elvis Presley songs.

Sigh, I feel overwhelmed by the realization that by early morning tomorrow I’d be all alone here, at least, until a new batch of students takes over their place. I can only pray that I won’t have problems with the guy who’ll be assigned to Josef’s room.

Now they’re dumping in my room what they can’t take with them. Fr. Juan, the generous man that he is, left me his brand new HP all-in-one printer, scanner and copier. An expensive piece of equipment that I sure need, especially when I’m already writing my thesis.

He also passed on to me his clothesiron. For the life of me, I haven’t done any ironing in the last six months. I had a special request for Josef — his bathroom scale. The contents of his cupboard he also bequeathed to me. And yes, a nice black leather shoulder bag over which I’ve made countless overtures to him.

I’m pretty sure I’d be doing the same thing when it’s time to go, that is, hand down to friends what I can’t take with me.


Written by Romel

March 9, 2010 at 6:20 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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