Life is a constant change...
Well... here I am back in beautiful Skipton and it truly looks as beautiful today as the photo above! It's strange to think that just two days ago, I was still in the tropical island paradise of Singapore and now I am here in the Yorkshire Dales, living in what I call "natural air-conditioned" comfort! It's strange to be back after 16 months away... I feel like I am in a dream. Here, nothing has changed very much; life has carried on while I have had such adventures in Manila and now I am back, a changed man with new perspectives.
Almost 48 hours ago, I arrived at Changi airport in Singapore, accompanied by a dear friend from my school days in Singapore, and was told at the KLM check-in counter that the flight was overbooked and they asked me if I would swap to a "direct" flight on Singapore airlines. I jumped at the chance and twenty minutes later, they confirmed that I was given a seat on the SIA flight... They also gave me a 300 Euro voucher on KLM in reparation which was a pleasant surprise! The flight was uneventful and I was kept well occupied by the 100+ videos on demend available! We all discovered at Zurich that direct flights simply mean one does not change planes but we did stop at the airport. Here, we were bizarrely asked to disembark and herded into the airport and directly to security screening to re-board the plane. Wierd! And why did we need to be screened again? We'd come directly from the plane! Zurich airport was shrouded in fog and the whole place struck me as cold, clinical and unwelcoming. It was all grey concrete and glass and chrome - which made me think of a fancy Nazi camp and was a far cry from the warmth and colour and bustle of Changi...
Returning to Manchester airport, my fatigue-addled brain was in a daze as I made my way through immigration, picked up my luggage and ran to the train station. The ride to Leeds was familiar yet seemed so distant in my memory; I watched it all go by as in a dream. In Leeds station, I waited for the Skipton-bound train and got on, only to be told that due to a train failure further along the tracks, no trains were leaving Leeds for Skipton. We waited another 30 minutes for this to be rectified before they finally announced the definite cancellation of the service. Frustrated, tired and desperate, I decided to take a taxi and pay the 40 Pounds Sterling fare to get home and to a shower!!
40 Pounds... that's almost a month's pay for the teachers at the school where I taught in Dagat-dagatan! It was an eye-opener! The journey by car to Skipton was progressively beautiful. One left the inner city squalor of Leeds and came upon more open fields and rolling hills. As we crossed the Ilkley moors, it was so pleasant and lovely to see sheep in the fields tending their gambolling lamb - idyllic indeed. Fr Peter was at the door to greet me with open arms and I was pleasantly surprised to see more parishioners inside the Presbytery hard at work, cooking for a fund-raiser today. There was no karaoke and no welcome party, as in Manila, but their smiles and sincere embrace was welcome enough.
I went up to my room, had that warm shower and unpacked, rooted out some of my stored CDs and clothes and prayed... so began another chapter of my life - back in Skipton, surrounded by all my (many) worldly possessions but somehow not home yet...
The words of one of my favourite childhood songs comes to mind. Incidentally it is by Jose Mari Chan, a famous Filipino singer and composer:
"We're on the road,
We move from place to place;
And oftentimes when we're about to call it home,
We have to move along:
Life is a constant change..."
On another note, today is not a bad day at all to begin my first full day back in Europe! It is the Feast of the great Dominican saint and Patroness of Europe, Catherine of Siena. May she pray for us. I also wish to remember especially the Siena Dominican sisters, named in her honour, who were such friends and an inspiration to me in the Philippines.