Sister Rosa Ocampo is a Sister for Christian Community from Manila, Philippines. The five years she spent as a missionary in Peru and El Salvador, as well as her apostolate in the Philippine urban slums, have provided invaluable insights and experiences that helped shape her views on social justice and the preferential option for the poor. As a journalist, she currently writes for a travel trade publication in Singapore and has written for newspapers and magazines in the Philippines, Hong Kong, Singapore and Saudi Arabia.
The year 2020 has been the pits.
In January, a volcanic eruption buried communities in our country. The Philippines remains in various lockdown levels since mid-March in response to the pandemic. November typhoons claimed lives, flooded provinces, and destroyed homes and agricultural crops. Meanwhile, extra-judicial killings continued to soar, politicians managed to close the country's largest media network, massive corruption in the government was exposed, and fake news abounded.
But little sparks flicker in the dark, bringers of feeble hope to this troubled land, trying to close the distance between God and his suffering people. Hardly noticed except in catastrophe and tragedy, even those who have least in life share their possessions, break bread with the hungry and open their hovels to strangers.
The dark times have kindled Bayanihan, the Filipino tradition of the community coming together to help and care for one another. People from all walks of life donated funds to build facilities for COVID-19 patients while throngs prepared food and personal protective equipment for exhausted medical and health front line workers. Ordinary folk didn't need much prompting to help those who were stranded and to find ways to bring to the metro agricultural crops affected by the lockdown.
But while Filipinos are known for their resiliency, they're tired of being resilient and have started clamoring for accountability. That, too, is a spark of hope.
The pandemic gives us more time to pray, be still, reflect, and take stock of our lives and our country's future. We are beginning to find our voice again. We respond to violence with nonviolence, to untruth by exposing the truth, injustice with justice, unbelief with faith.
These little sparks are contagious, attracting more ordinary people, celebrities, the religious, activists, Indigenous people, the wealthy and enlightened ones.
Soon, there will be enough little sparks to dispel the darkness and lead the way out of the pits. We're not hopeless.
We're delighted to bring you this blog from the monthly feature "The Life" courtesy of our friends at Global Sisters Report. This month with the comfort of evergreens, children’s laughter, Bayanihan, and good memories—grief and fear giving way to trust—"The Life" panelists wrote a potpourri of short vignettes in response to the prompt: “Write a personal reflection or prayer that looks forward in hope to 2021.” CLICK HERE to read more blogs from The Life, GSR's monthly feature about the unique, challenging, and very specific lives of women religious around the world.