What Negrenses can teach the world

“Let your conversations be full of grace.”

This verse from Colossians was quoted in last week’s talk on Wisdom.  I am amazed at how the Bible is so direct and simple about this. It need not mask this wisdom with a parable, a riddle, or any mind-boggler. It’s a simple advice that concerns a daily occurrence; and yet it is significant counsel, too, for the foundation of all relationships — conversation.

I recall all those times when I fancy gossip and erroneously justify talking about other people as an “assessment.”  I also recall all the petty talks, the discouraging and harsh words I’ve spewed in my life. How juicy when I let them out… but by the feelings these leave me with, how cheap and lacking in grace!

We cannot underestimate the effects of this simple advice. When we start to favor positive conversations, we do not only change the way we speak, but the way we think as well. We change the landscape of our thoughts such that our perspectives become positive, and our intentions are no longer muddled but more loving.

For example, when we meet a new person, our minds rewired by God’s grace automatically sees the good, withhold judgment even in our thoughts, and (borrowing from the Prayer and Life Workshops), we acknowledge that each one is a “Living Wonder,” an “Interesting Mystery.”

Or perhaps, when we are not serviced properly in stores, we express our disappointment in the action but do it so with kindness, in private, and with the sincere intention of helping improve the way things are done. By no means do we assault the personnel, because it does not only lack grace, but shows how we want to get even or stroke the ego.

I believe that we, Negrenses, must be at the forefront in making a revolution in conversations. Our dialect is not just a body of words, expressions and manner of speaking (intonation). It is, interestingly, a reflection of a distinct culture, a way of life, a mindset.

For instance, when Negrenses are caught in difficult situations, we can manage to exclaim (oftentimes with a crisp, loud clap) “ay, kasadya!”  An oxymoron, sure. But that’s a better response for something that usually calls for a curse. It can also be a reflection of Negrense resilience – that all situations can be overcome with grace.

When we get off a jeepney, ours is not an order to stop (for example, “para”), but a gentle request to get off at a mutually convenient stop (“sa lugar lang”).

Our gentle tone, too, must be preserved and purified. By purified, I mean that we make all our intentions sincere, good, and loving to match how we sound.

Our term for God’s will is so beautiful, too: “pagbuot.” Whereas in “will,” it evokes power and obligation, in “pagbuot” it captures God’s goodness (“buot” being the vernacular for “good”). It gives us a heartwarming illustration that whatever God wills for us is out of his goodness as a Father.

I am so excited for us, Negrenses, as we build and enhance a culture founded in Christ’s gentleness and enriched by local history.

Thank you, Holy Spirit, this work is not mine!





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