Nativity at noontime.
The phrase just came in yesteday while I was on my way to the Nativity Church in Torrance after dropping my mail to the Superior Court of California, the County of Los Angeles.
The Superior Court sent me a Summons for Jury Service for which I need to register, if qualified.
There was a number to call.
I called two days after, figuring out why, of all reasons, did I receive such a summons.
I have yet to become a citizen, having just gotten my permanent residency on a fast-tracked basis, less than a year after applying.
But this is another story.
There is a questionnaire to weed out those who can serve, or are qualified to serve, and those who cannot serve or are not qualified.
The first, as a matter of course, is about citizenship: Are you a citizen of the United States?
A big No.
There is no qualification needed for the No answer except to ask for your Alien Number, that famous Alien Number for which permanent residents are known for.
I answered the questionnaire, signed it, dated it as required, placed it on the pre-addressed envelope, placed a first class stamp on it since the envelope has an instruction that I have to put one otherwise the post office will not deliver it.
Before going to work, I dropped by the San Marcelina Post Office in one of the old streets of the city where the better fine dining restaurants are but have never had the courage to go because of their pricey menu which a struggling immigrant simply cannot afford.
There are bills to pay and there are children to send to college and going to these restaurants does not fit into a struggling immigrant's scheme of things.
And then I drove to the church that is known for its reverent silence, a kind of silence that I like at noontime.
It is my Nativity at noontime, and the whole church is all mine.
That silence welcomes me with all its full language, so full I cannot say anything.
I just sit still, just sit still and listen to the beating of my heart.
I put my hands together in prayer and I can feel my pulse pulsing life, hope, peace, resignation, calm, quietude--all those that have mystitified me, terrorized me for a long long time.
I am living in a precarious time as an exile, in between things, in between many things, many goings-on.
I listen to the silence.
I hear birdsong in the silence.
This is my own Nativity at noontime.
I vow to come here, pass by here, as often I could.
This is my sacred space now, my sacred church, my place of retreat, my place of silence.
I will always come here to listen to the silence.
A. S. Agcaoili
June 8, 2006