A few days back, a memory from my high school days came back to me, out of the blue. I wasn’t even thinking about anything in particular. It was the time when somebody brought a supposedly miraculous Sto. Nino to school, much to the delight of the Catholic teachers and students. I, being non-Catholic, immediately felt out of place amidst the palpable excitement that gripped almost everyone else in our class. It can perform miracles, they said. One of my teachers then promptly urged me to go forth and be healed, and never mind that I wasn’t sick or anything like that. He was referring specifically to the fact that I, being exceptionally nearsighted, wore eyeglasses, and supposedly even my nearsightedness could be cured by the miracle team that came to town.

I have nothing against Catholics, mind you, but you have to understand the context of the environment I grew up in. I was raised in an entirely different dimension of faith that didn’t involve worshipping stone images of anything, much less a purportedly miraculous one. And in fact it was a challenge to grow up having a different “religion” from everybody else’s. But I got along well with everyone, or at least that was how it seemed to me.

I immediately raised my objection to the idea. It wasn’t just that I didn’t believe that it had healing powers that could cure my myopia (I was already a budding skeptic way back then), but precisely because it would go against everything I was raised to believe in. Daddy would surely disinherit me, for sure.

But my teacher insisted: “What would you lose if you tried it? You have everything to gain.” Not exactly his same words; note that this happened more than two decades ago, so the memory is a bit rusty, but the message was essentially the same. Basically, he was telling me to just suspend my beliefs (or lack of it) for a brief second and just take a leap of faith. After all, if I did gain my normal eyesight back, then I’d rise out of the situation as the real winner! That would even make a believer out of me, who knew.

Well, I didn’t let myself be coaxed into it. I was too stubborn, or perhaps even scared. It would have been great to actually put it to test, now that I think about it. I just buried the incident within the deep recesses of my memory, and didn’t even think about it anymore.

Until now.

Should there be a moral lesson in this story? Well, for one, it’s that teachers don’t know everything. I’m quite appalled to realize that the principal of our school had even allowed something like that to happen in the first place. Was there anything remotely academic about it, that it had to take place within the hallowed grounds of our public school? Was the student body even consulted about it? If I were to go back in time, knowing what I know now, I would probably raise a ruckus.

Ah, the things that you learn in two decades. Or, the things you lose in two decades.

It’s so easy to fall into something, as long as there’s a promised gain. Faith is believing that there’s an eventual gain somewhere, sometime, somehow. An afterlife without sorrow or misery, pain or death, suffering or torment. A life full of blessings, because nothing happens without a reason, and everything is preordained. A life in a capsule entrusted to the care of a higher Being.

It’s all yours to gain, as long as you believe.

As for me, I have indeed remained myopic and I’m still wearing my eyeglasses. My eyesight has probably even worsened over the years. But one thing I know, though, is that where faith is concerned, I am now willing to shift my focus on what is immediately in front of me and try my best to see beyond.

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