This morning, my day started at 5 minutes before 2AM. It's the 4th day of "Misa de Gallo" in the Philippines, a traditional novena (9 days) of prayer and attending mass that starts at exactly 4AM beginning on December 16th until the 24th. "Misa de Gallo" is the Spanish term for "Mass of the Rooster", a tradition inherited from our ancestors during the Spanish colonial times. It was named as such because you literally wake up and go to church about the same time that the rooster makes his "it's-morning-already" sound alarm, which is around 3 or 4 AM indeed. It's kinda weird that the rooster sound (the written one) varies in different countries unlike the popular "mooooo" of the cow or the "meow" of the cat. In the Philippines, it's "tiktilaok...". in some countries it's "cock-a-doodle-doo" or "cocoro coco" or whatever. But whatever sound it is, I bet it's gonna be music to my ears, specially now that in the village we live in, there's not a chicken or rooster around. All you hear in the morning is the almost synchronized alarm of cellular phones that seem to be an all-around gadget nowadays. Some of my colleagues back then would even joke that the only thing they need to add to a cellphone is a "lighter". Funny, huh! Anyway, going back to the "Misa de Gallo", it is believed that anyone who completes the novena (again, 9 mornings) would have his/her wish granted! That's probably one of the reasons why people flock to churches that early and so consistently for nine mornings. Well, apart of course from the main reason ( i hope) which is to give thanks to God for the many blessings received during the entire year and to prepare for the celebration of Christ's birth.
You might think I'm a consistent church-goer during "Misa de Gallo's". Nah. I've gone to quite a few masses of the previous years but never really got the chance to complete it. And more often than not, actually always, whenever I get to miss a day of novena, I lose interest and not attend the next day onwards. Maybe, unconsciously, the urge to wake up as early as 2AM (I spend 30mins. in the shower and 30mins. commuting to the nearest church, then I need to be inside the church at least an hour before the mass starts, otherwise I'd be standing outside for over an hour because the church can only accommodate so much, 500 I guess...easy enough if I'm alone but difficult when my son brings his tantrums with him and demands that he be carried the whole time..) is brought about by the enticement to the promise of a granted wish and not by sheer devotion. Pity. Because I know that a lot of people share the same reason. And year after year, this was what happened. This was all it was to me -- a path to a wish.
So you can only imagine my utter frustration, when, in the morning of the third day, a Tuesday, I woke up at 5:30AM.... "what the #$%^&&*!@#!". All the effort, all the time, all the chance, lost forever! I'd have to wait one more year if I wanted to give it another try! One more year! I've gone through many long years of waiting for this chance. And I'm 28. That's 28 lost years of chance for a granted wish! I went back to bed after staring at the wall 20mins. It seemed "forever". . There was a truckload of emotions that seemed to sink heavily on me. First denial. Then anger, frustration, disappointment, hopelessness. I couldn't close my eyes. And when I did manage to do it, my brain wouldn't stop thinking and rethinking what I've done wrong. What in the world have I done the night before that, why didn't I wake up on time?
And then it hit me. "Wait," I thought to myself. I didn't wake up on time. But I still woke up. And I woke up because God cared enough to add another day to my life. And another day always meant a new chance. A new hope. A new reason to be even more grateful of God and the life He gave me. Beautiful thoughts suddenly came to me and I realized what "Misa de Gallo" was all about. It's God's promise of a "new day" for us all. It's His way of telling us that He love us so much that He is giving us another chance to rediscover ourselves and God. Sometimes, that is all we need, an awakening of sort. Sometimes, in a plan of a perfect novena that we made, God intervenes (oftentimes in the most unusual, disappointing way) to let us know the meaning behind the tradition.
Today is the fourth day of "Misa de Gallo" and I'm glad I was there. I am thankful for this new day. The photo I posted is a shot I took after the mass. I thank God for touching my heart and giving me inspiration to write today. I thank God that I woke up today. I have 5 more novena days to complete. And I intend to finish it, complete or not complete.