Christmas Stories * The Wolf and the Lamb * Piligrimage to Fatima

Christmas Story No. 1 – THE WOLF AND THE LAMB
Facebook Page “Eastwind Journals(no. 197)
the wolf shall be the guest of the lamb
and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat
there shall be no harm or ruin on all My holy mountain
for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the Lord
as water covers the sea
Isaiah 11:1-10, excerpt
By Bernie V. Lopez
It is at the heart of the Big Apple, along Central Park West, where our Christmas story unfolds. A vicious wolf named Tiger and a gentle lamb named Dove, predator and prey, stumble on each other. Ex-con Tiger is trying hard to restore his life. He has a sidewalk fruit stand. Everyone on the block fears his terrible temper, which he is trying hard to control. A teenage boy attempts to steal a pear. Tiger sees him from the corner of his eye. He goes to the boy and wallops him. The boy is bleeding on the forehead. Dove comes to the rescue. 

Seeing this, Dove, 5 years old, comes up to Tiger and picks up an apple. She steps between Tiger and the boy. She offers her hand with a wad of paper bills. Tiger sees a twenty-dollar bill and takes it, and gives her change of $3.50. The boy scurries away.

DOVE. My, you got a terrible temper. For a measly pear, the boy does not deserve a bloodied forehead. May I pay for his pear?

TIGER. But he didn’t get the pear.

DOVE. I’ll buy it anyway and give it to him. Here. (She offers the wad of bills again. Tiger takes another 20, smiling, and gives a change of another $3.50.) He lives at a basement staircase around the corner, and when it snows, he sneaks into the confessional box of the church three blocks away. One day, the priest had to hear confessions and threw him out. I gave him a duck-down sleeping bag, the kind Mt. Everest climbers use, you know? So now he sleeps warm even at ten degrees below, even if the snow is three inches on top of the sleeping bag. I gave him a backpack so he carries his home everywhere he goes. Next time, let him steal a fruit and I will pay for it.

TIGER. You must be rich.

DOVE. My father owns this building right here. I heard you were in jail for ten years. What was it like?

TIGER. I don’t wanna talk about it. (Dove turns around to leave.) No wait. Talk to me. I have no one to talk to.

Tiger gets a second stool. They talk for a good hour, in between fruit buyers. Tiger pours out all the pain he had in jail. Dove is wide-eyed, occasionally saying “Really?”

DOVE. I see a tear. You’re crying.

TIGER. Why not? Big boys cry, you know. I’m not ashamed.

DOVE. That’s good. Let it all out. It’s a good feeling. I have to go.

TIGER. Can we talk again tomorrow?

DOVE. Sure. I’ll drop by after school.

TIGER. Hey, wait. I owe you. I short changed you twice.

DOVE. I know. Keep it but give the kid an apple a day until the $40 runs out.

TIGER. He won’t come near me anymore.

DOVE. Yes, he will. I will tell him you’re sorry.

And so the Tiger and the Dove become the best of friends. All the way until Christmas, they talk for an hour a day, snow or no snow. Every time, the Tiger has precious tears to shed. He unloads his darkness on Dove, the light, until there is no more darkness.

TIGER. You must teach me how to be a child once more.

DOVE. You’re doing fine, actually.

TIGER. The child in me was long gone.

DOVE. It’s back. I’ve been talking to the child for weeks now. Hey, I got a gift for you. (She gives him a big paper bag.) Mt. Everest material.

TIGER. Wow, a duck-down ski jacket.

DOVE. You’re crying again.

TIGER. I have nothing to give you.

DOVE. You gave me your time. Time is a spiritual gift. A jacket is a material gift. Which is better?

TIGER. I admire your intuitive wisdom.

DOVE. What’s intuitive?

TIGER. Knowing something without knowing why. Like you knew I was conning you with the $20 change.

DOVE. It was a bait to save the boy.

TIGER. Now I know.

DOVE. I envy you.

TIGER. A bad-tempered ex-con like me, clinging to a stupid fruit stand?

DOVE. Yup. You’re luckier that my dad, a tycoon so busy maintaining his stupid empire, his dying from it. He has heart and kidney problems. The more he sees a doctor, the more he gets sick. You wanna swap with my dad, kinda like The Prince and the Pauper?

TIGER. No thanks. I can manage the blizzard. Simplicity brings happiness to old men.

DOVE. Right, that’s intuitive wisdom. You also have it.

TIGER. What happens when you inherit your dad’s empire?

DOVE. I dunno. I kinda like to sell everything. But what happens to the thousands of employees?

TIGER. They will be retained by the new owner.

DOVE. What if he’s greedy and not as generous as my dad?

TIGER. Who will run the empire then?

DOVE. A nice kind soul. Haven’t found him yet. I’m not yet looking. He’s not dying yet. Hello!!!

TIGER. Oh, sorry. A kind soul, that’s a rare find these days.

DOVE. You keep seeing darkness when there is light all around. I can keep 10% of the empire and go somewhere.

TIGER. Ah, the Greek Islands, Tibet, some paradise somewhere.

DOVE. Nope. I’m not looking for a place but for people I can help. People are paradises you know.

TIGER. Wow, more intuitive wisdom.

DOVE. Someone said, “If your heart is kind, you can see forever.” And kindness is contagious. I heard you gave the boy a job tending your stand while you talk to the trees in Central Park.

TIGER. To keep me sane. That’s my meditation garden. Merry Christmas, my Santa Klaus.

DOVE. Merry Christmas, my child.

Euphoric Tiger gives Dove a violent high-five. She almost falls from her stool.

Bernie V. Lopez

in the winter of our lives
we sometimes stumble on spring
blinding light in the dark of night
dew drops in the vast dry desert
a sudden lull in the midst of a storm
Christmas Story No. 2 – PILGRIMAGE TO FATIMA – a 7-day 80-km hike
Excerpt from the book
WINGS AND WANDERLUST – The Art of Discovering Your Inner Self
The book is the adventure of a lifetime of a Filipino in Europe hitchhiking for three long years through 18 countries.
I was on the road again, hitchhiking from Brussels to Canary Islands on a frenzied pace. I headed north for spring, hitting Lisbon like a lightning bolt. It was time to stop soaring and to start gliding gently. I embarked on a pilgrimage to Our Lady of Fatima, a 7-day 80-kilometer hike from Lisbon. This was the time of meditation and soul searching, to pray that I could “find myself” somehow, to pray for light in an era of darkness. After the spiri­tual desert of New York, I wandered aimlessly, looking for an oasis somewhere in the vastness. Strangely, my Christmas story happened on the month of April, Day 4 of the pilgrimage.
I was on the road again, hitchhiking from Brussels to Canary Islands on a frenzied pace. I headed north for spring, hitting Lisbon like a lightning bolt. It was time to stop soaring and to start gliding gently. I embarked on a pilgrimage to Our Lady of Fatima, a 7-day 80-kilometer hike from Lisbon. This was the time of meditation and soul searching, to pray that I could “find myself” somehow, to pray for light in an era of darkness. After the spiri­tual desert of New York, I wandered aimlessly, looking for an oasis somewhere in the vastness. Strangely, my Christmas story was on the month of April, day 4 of the pilgrimage.
I left half of my things in Lisbon, keeping my backpack weight to 1.5 kilos for the long distance hike on beach san­dals. I had a sleeping bag, no tent (my guardian angel made sure it would not rain, except a drizzle on day 4, and for a reason), extra pants and shirt, matches and candle (no flashlight), a map, and uncooked food of bread, fruits, sausages, and wine or milk on a skin bag (no cooking gear). 
I took the bus to the outskirts of Lisbon. As I walked north, the city gradually faded; the traffic vanished; the noise dwindled. I was tired at the end of day 1, but it was good for the soul. After dinner, I slept early. I slept in the open air most of the time, anywhere convenient in the farm fields. In the early morning of day 2, I was in the purity and magic of the Portuguese country­side. All of a sudden, there were quaint villages. The road narrowed but never ended.
I prayed the rosary about 4 times a day. I did about 2 kilo­meters per hour, or one kilometer in 20 to 30 minutes. I walked about 10 kilometers a day for about 5 to 6 hours, minus rest and lunch, from 7 am to 5 pm. I hiked the 80 kilometers to Fatima in seven days.
In the morning of day 2, I brushed my teeth in a quaint village fountain at the cen­tral plaza, as if it were my hotel suite. I awoke at six o’clock and did not have breakfast until nine. I bought provisions in small village stores. I pre­ferred milk from wine in my skin bag during this gruel­ling work out.
On day 3, entering a small village, a bunch of children ran to greet me. They were all shouting “Peregrino, peregrino” (pilgrim). They crowded each other, giggling and staring at me. They suddenly dis­persed into a nearby orchard, and came back with 2 kilos of peaches. I could only take half a kilo. An old woman came out of a house, shouting at the children. They stole the peaches, I surmised. I waved and smiled at her. Her anger dissipated into a smile. I had to eat them right away because they were getting heavy. The children followed me to the edge of the village. They were singing and shouting and I felt embarrassed because people would come out of their houses and stare. After the village, the silence screamed at me. 
On day 4, my Christmas story began, strangely in the month April
on the fourth day, there was a slight drizzle
so I asked a farmer
if I could sleep in his sheep’s shed
the shed had a certain sheep odor
that was a bit offensive
all of a sudden, the birth of Jesus
came to me in a flash
the drizzle was perhaps sent by the Lord
to give Light that I was asking for
I suddenly realized how it defies the imagination
that the Creator of the universe
was humble enough to permit Himself
to be born in a crib meant for new-born sheep
in a sheep shed which smelled
the hay of such a crib is itchy on the skin
the swaddling cloth helps
but still the God who made all of us
did not stay in a three star inn
but a no-star sheep shed
His power must be awesome and limitless
to be able to do this
the omnipotent God
in total humility born in a manger
at whose side powerful kings
and winged angels knelt in adoration
On day 5, I spent the night under an olive tree on top of a knoll. I could see the panorama of the valley below, olive trees all around, reminding me of Gethsemani. There was a stone fence down below twisting and turning, vanishing into the bluish mist. It looked like a paint­ing. I heard the faint peal of sheep bells. I wondered if the bells were tolling for me, not for the end but for the beginning of my life.
It was here that Our Lady of Fatima gave me the gift of inner peace. It was overwhelming. I was almost in tears. It was my ‘reward’ from Our Lady, her way of showing her pres­ence. The moment was intense and magical. I can never forget that feeling because it was so clear, so overpowering, and so rare in a lifetime full of schedules and tasks and storms and whirlwinds. It was the gift of inner peace. In hind sight, I would be a journalist, and I would write many articles on Our Lady of Fatima and her messages of salvation and disaster.
inner peace may not always be a gift
you may have to earn it
when you finally find it
you will discover it was there all the while
inside your soul long before you were born
On day 6, my pace was faster to make it to Fatima by day 7. There it was at a distance, the gothic spires reaching up to the heavens. I reached Fatima at night, and ended up sleeping outside the giant portals of the church. Every hour, until dawn, the huge bells rang and echoed in my soul. I could hardly sleep. 
At the crack of dawn of day 7, I was up, afraid the early church goers might see me sprawled at the door step of the church. Everything was grey and misty. At a dis­tance, I dis­cerned a crowd. It was an early out­door Mass near where they had a spring of the miraculous water that had cured thousands of people in the last few decades. After Mass, I put some water from the spring on my forehead. That was the end of the pil­grimage. I was not expecting any miracles. After the pilgrimage, I was no longer worried about “finding myself”. I somehow knew it would come in its own time, this self-discovery. After the pilgrimage, I knew eastwind would end in a nice way. I lost my angst at Fatima.
It was strange. I could go from total dark­ness to blinding light without flinching. It was as if I was longing for it and was expecting it. It was like the ice-water shower after half an hour in the steam room at Amsterdam’s Melkeweg. Life on the road was a pendulum swing, from the chaos of Las Palmas to the serenity of the Papagayo cave, from passion with Vicky to prayer at Fatima, from total solitude in Madrid to total immer­sion in Andorra. I took the bus back to Lisbon, picked up my stuff, and hitched north with my guitar towards Coimbra and Santander and the mystique of the Basque people. I was sporting a brand-new soul.
To order the book, email It is a great Christmas gift, no shopping, no fuss, a click away from your keyboard, cheap (500 pesos including postage), sent within 3 days by courier to anywhere in the Philippines.

5 Stars *****
01 Glee – God rest ye merry gentlemen
02 enya – adeste fidelis (o come all ye faithful)
03 lindsey stirling – violin – what child is this
04 mormon tabernacle choir – o come all ye faithful (adeste fidelis)
05 carlton forrester – piano – what child is this
4 Stars **** old
06 nat king cole – chestnuts roasting on an open fire
07 bing Crosby – i’ll be home for christmas
08 frank Sinatra – have yourself a merry little christmas
09 johnny mathis – silver bells
10 Julie Andrews – it came upon a  midnight clear
4 Stars **** new
11 charice pempengco – oh holy night
12 carrie underwood – do you hear what I hear?
13 the norman luboff choir – the little drummer song
14 mormon channel – o little town of Bethlehem
15 17 lindsey stirling – violin – silent night



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