Garden Talk

Teresa Lo

What’s so fascinating about interviews?

I like watching television while doing the treadmill. There was one I watched last summer called “Tycoon Talk,” a business and lifestyle program presented by Sean Lee-Davis. He interviewed the city’s magnates, who shared tips on how to transform the industries and shape the business landscape. At each closing, the host would talk about his own inspirations and lessons he himself learned after the exclusive interviews.

In my first year of college, Juan Gonzales, my journalism instructor and the editor of the campus newspaper, assigned me to interview the college dean, the professors and students on the budget cut, a hot issue back then in California. I could not say the assignment was difficult, but talking before the big names did make me shiver. Thanks to their patience, the interviewees had been very nice in repeating their answers and clarifying my thoughts, allowing this slow and inexperienced foreign student to jot down the notes at my pace.

In an Advent activity held in 2013, the Religious Affairs Committee started a brand new program called “Buy Someone A Cake” , which meant to arouse the awareness of caring our neighbors. I contacted the school broadcasting team so that they could interview the students and teachers who might have been selected as the recipients of the cakes. Just as the interview was about to start that very afternoon, four F5 broadcasting team students rushed down to the area outside the staff room, with a quizzical expression on the face. Only until then did they ask me about the aim of the program and the questions they could ask the recipients — the basics they should have put in mind prior to the interview!

With no more time to lose, I hurried them to read a hard copy on the true meaning of the program, hoping they could at least get a little out of the gist. The interviews, strictly speaking, did not come out in the way I wished to see. But the thing was they were happy and proud of what they did. I told myself, wasn’t that the spirit of Advent — true joy and peace in the love of God I so yearned to experience?

Whosoever the interviewers are, they would feel the joy and excitement in the process of asking, listening, writing and reflecting. How would that feel if the interviewee this time were God?

That was a quiet walk I made in the garden in the cool of the evening in the retreat house. It was merely a garden — that’s what I thought — for me to walk, to relax and to contemplate.

But God turned it into the Garden of Eden.

He woke me up early before dawn and showed me flashes of my past. I knew they were given with good reasons. Only the Spirit of God that dwells within knows my innermost self.

When intellectual faculties could not explain, the spiritual senses took over. “Why do You show me the two images the moment I woke up today?” I asked perplexingly, knowing that this limited me had no way to understand the secret things of God. Then came His gentle voice, “Because I wanted to give these gifts to you before you even asked.”

Giving gifts is God’s nature, and most often He gives even when we have not done anything worth the merit. He simply loves to pour out His love for us, as Love is His name.

Gifts in God’s perspective can carry richer meanings and — sometimes bring us seemingly sharp pain at the first sight of them. The two morning images did arouse in me the fond memories of how He loves me. But the third one grabbed my heart painfully.

“Why the third one?” I mustered up the courage and asked again, as it was never easy to talk about inner pain. “Because I wanted to turn it into grace,” He spoke slowly and therapeutically.

The Spirit of God was blowing in me. He was speaking to me in a language so familiar, and yet it seemed to come from the other side of the world.

The trees, the shadows and darkness still stayed as they were in the Garden. But God was there, walking, talking to me in His most loving way.

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