May 6, 2011

Under the Kubo Kubo Hut

"Winter warmth and light and a shady place in summer:
He's ever over me."

It was a beautiful day for a boat race.

We all ended up at the beach that morning. Kim was leaving soon and was working on saying his goodbyes, so I went with him to visit Uncle Elias. As we walked up to his front porch, his daughter-in-law came outside and told us he had already gone to his kubo kubo hut. We thanked her and walked passed the house, onto the beach. Sure enough, there he was, under the kubo kubo hut.

It's that classic hut. Usually made from bamboo or coconut palms, you can find them all over the Philippines, or at least all over Pagudpud. They're open air with benches or low platforms inside. Their purpose? Shade. And that's one thing Kim and I were happy to step into that morning.

"Hello Uncle Elias!" We shook his hand and sat next to him on the creaking platform. His eyes brightened behind his lopsided glasses and he turned to start speaking to us in his slurred Tagalog. Elias has had several debilitating strokes. The last one happened about two years ago, and at the time it had left him nearly paralyzed. But he had recovered tremendously since then, having a lot greater range of motion. He still used a walker to slowly get places, and he couldn't quite articulate all the way, but again--major improvement.

Kim listened intently. He speaks Tagalog fairly fluently, and so while Elias's first language is the local Ilocano dialect, he also speaks Tagalog so that the two of them can communicate. Kim, as always, was kind enough to translate for me.

"He says the boat races haven't started yet, but this is the best spot to see them. The finish line is right out here." He pointed down the beach to the water nearby. I looked around the sandy shoreline: lots of people had come out to watch. Down next to the water Emily and Aaron were playing volleyball with some friends. Rainey was walking Pastor Marc's dog with another friend. Heather was splashing in the waves with a group of the neighborhood kids. The sun was high and hot, and a small cool breeze swept along, bringing a little relief.

We watched in silence for a little while, hoping to see the long, pontooned fishing boats start cutting through the water. I leaned back, drinking in the whole scene. It was so beautiful. So peaceful. So wonderful. I looked at Uncle Elias. This was what he did all day, everyday. He walked from his house to the beach and he sat under his kubo kubo hut and watched paradise sighing around him. What a life.

We talked some more, about us leaving, about Dr. Mitz coming back in September, about the future. "I'm ready to die. There's no point to living any longer," Uncle Elias stated at one point. He's said this before and it's always bothered me. When people talk about death here, it's usually said as a joke, a laugh, even if they're actually serious. They talk about it so lightly and it always stirs me up inside. "I can't walk," he said.

"You can walk," I remind him for the hundredth time. "It's still walking even if you use a walker. And soon I'm sure you won't even need that." He doesn't seem to hear me. "I used to be able to walk..." He's said this so much, and the scene was so beautiful. I wondered what this paradise looked like through his eyes.

We were quiet again. I shifted myself and scanned the beach again, letting out a sigh. We choose how we see life. I thought about how soon I would think back on this beach as a memory, trying to recall each little detail about it's magnificence. When something's always there, sometimes it begins to seem mundane, ordinary. I'd let this scene become ordinary throughout my 6 months. But it was nice to sit and drink it in again.

The forests of home are pretty ordinary. But lately I've been drinking them in again, too.

Beauty is everywhere, all around us. God has painted tapestries for us wherever we go, hoping that we'll open our eyes to see the wonders He's made. He's made life beautiful, too, if we choose to see its beauty,

and I think that's what makes the difference.

1 comment:

  1. Another little glimpse of your initially nearly-undefinable role - reminding people they can walk (and encouraging them to keep doing so) more ways than one. I'm glad you're drinking the WA forests too!