I don't know how you may call this. But it is not just a surprise, it is a miracle. Just like nature conspires to put her elements at our favor, sometimes without our wont. That is how I call this. A miracle of encounter.
When I saw the smile in Wo Lamden's face, and heard his voice echoing that native, somewhat rustic accent that I identify with, there was a tingling sensation of joy measuring with the pulse of my heart. In a bar, opening out to the busy street of Manila where people meet in a confluence of cultures and where you certainly will search their background from the color of their skin (mean thing that happens over and over for centuries now) we drank and remembered home. Not like strangers do, but like people of the world, claiming their right to the world-- yet always remaining at the edge of the crossroad, calling nowhere home and calling everywhere home.
I met his friends. I met his friend's daughter and her daughter's boy friend and learned two words in their native dialect. I met my brother. Yes, at a place I never expected to meet him. His call was a surprise, I was just awakening from a little dizzying stupor from the long hours at work when my cell phone rang. I hesitated, not recognizing the number -- you know there are stalkers everywhere there are human beings. -- but then I pressed the answering button and held the receiver to my ears, and there he was at the other end: "Rom, I am in Manila."
"Can't be true." For I knew pretty well who was on the line. "Where the hell are you and what are you doing in Manila?" We were giggling, laughing, cussing time. It was, I don't know, sheer bliss!
I was lost between two waves sweeping through me. It could be a very wild joke. But no! No one here speaks my native language, and those who do would certainly not have the accent and the tone of Wo Landem. But it was he. He was just some few kilometers away reaching me so closely.
That night we met had its mystery, its language and its magic. It reminded me of one thing: there is always a way that things we only wished for, things we dreamed of come to happen. Things we would give all we have to see happen hardly happen the way we want. The most beautiful thing about them is, they come to us as a gift, like the setting of the sun, or the silent reflection of the moon against a backdrop of still waters.When we live them in their manifestation, it is always noble to hold gratitude to God who brings men together, who unites them after being thwarted away by cares of life. We always need gratitude for the little things that reveal the greatness of life. We owe gratitude to the crossroads where encounter becomes possible and a new world opens to us in people around us.
Have a great flight back to Belgium brother. But remember that you have taken some of Manila with you, and Manila still retains something of that essential stuff in you. Something gotten from the road you have walked. The souvenirs of an encounter. Aren't they treasures of the heart?