By Apprentice Chef David Torres
This recipe is a unique and creative illustration on how a Love-Coated, God-Filled Teacher could be baked within the longevity of three days, from June 1 to 3, according to the 2011 volume of “Grooming Up with Christ” Book of Retreat Recipes. If you are up to satisfy and pep up your taste buds with something easy and different, why not you grab your handy-dandy apron, heat up your dormant oven, and start following this easy but surely worth the try recipe!
Welcome to the Masters’ Kitchen!
Before you go on thinking about how you will mix the dough and all those sugar, spice and everything nice stuff in order for you to create a palatable and mouth watering pastry, you ought to decide first where the “baking” would happen. In our case, we chose a kitchen which could be traveled in less than two hours by plane across both land and ocean. Yep, you’re thinking it right! This recipe was first done in a far-off expanse of the country – inCebuCity, where the famous Talavera House of Prayer is. The sun was still under the blanket of velveteen sky when we left the airport and to our astonishment, it was also the sun who first welcomed us to the very region of our anticipation. One could freely imagine how one could get from one place to another, entirely divided by kilometers God knows how many, in such a short span of time. No wonder we were all exhausted, not just because of the travel per se, but equally because of the praying and wild imagination each had during the flight. God speed, this recipe was still formulated.
The journey to find the right spot for this culinary experiment did not take that long. The very instance we set our feet on the parameters of Talavera House of Prayer, everybody’s face was marred with pure excitement. This isolated and solemn tavern situated in the locale of Quiot, has been the venue of most retreats and recollections in the periphery, and is known for its serene ambiance conducive for introspection and personal encounter with God. The retreat master who, for the purpose of this recipe we would now call Master Chefs, were Fr. Cristuto Palomar and Nemecio Tolentin. With the company of these two Master Chefs, the task of baking oneself according to the recipe was all too fun.
Smiles and cheers were the ones that surprised us the moment the door to the conference room was opened. The Master Chef first informed us as to what the “baking” session would all be about. Time to recharge… a moment of encounter… moment for growth… a meeting with God… an appointment to oneself…. All these are preliminary ideas regarding the whole experience, and indeed these became slices of realities which without a doubt were enjoyed by the whole lot.
Ingredients to a Successful Retreat (What you will need in baking the recipe…)
Let’s move on to the elements necessary to the recipe. The following is a list of all the ingredients one has to prepare in attempting to bake a “Love-Coated, God-Filled” Teacher:
1. a sprinkle of love for inspiration
If there is something that the retreat has left the teachers with, it is their acknowledgment of the importance love plays in knowing oneself, God and others. Profound discussions were made as to how love mediates reconciliation with oneself, with the Lord and the people within the circumference of our professional and personal lives in order to foster a sound concept of the self, establish harmonious relationship between and among these individuals, and bridge one’s identity as humble offering to the Creator. The attendees could surely remember how Fr. Tol led the discussion in careful scrutiny and took away the vagueness that has cloaked this most abused word in the human dictionary. It was indeed easier to describe love by the things that it is not than with the things that seem to evince it. Love is not selfish. Love is not jealous. Love is not proud. These are all but simple descriptions of what love is not, yet are enough to make one understand the gravity of risks and responsibilities that love entails. Love, hence, is a gift endowed by God to man that has to be nourished and shared despite impeding circumstances which in faith could lead to inspire everyone to be a better person each day of their lives.
2. a right degree of heat from friends
The companion of people who have served as friends and colleagues was critical to the retreat. The experience paved way to opportunities for the teachers to disclose all the unspoken thoughts, inhibitions, and sentiments that prohibited them from getting peace of mind. All the tears they wept were comforted by a simple hug which they received from the people who really cared for them. The activity on affirmation which was facilitated by Frs. Tol and Cris was a description not just of how optimistic each teacher was to their co-workers, but also of how ready each of them was to console and partake to the grief and turbulence their friends encounter. Without the warmth of companionship they fostered in the place, individual problems could have been more difficult to manage.
3. a slice or two of acceptance to add flavor
Acceptance is something that one cannot easily accomplish. This effect may be attributed by the files of gaps that exist between the two parties. Acceptance, as it was necessitated in the retreat, was zeroed in on the acceptance a person has to oneself and to others. Most of the times, we find it hard to accept ourselves whenever failures and disappointments come to our way. Same feeling is gained when a person could hardly accept someone for his or her differences from our very own qualities. The retreat served as an opportune venue for the teachers to learn how to accept each other’s imperfection all for the spirit of camaraderie and love. It was made explicit in the retreat that everybody in the group has his or her unique qualities that contribute to myriad differences. The teachers realized that what they should see to a person is the common ground that exists between two unique identities and not what separates them from one another.
4. a teaspoon of confidence for improvement
During the activity on affirmation, the teachers were asked to give the strengths or the positive qualities of each other. Through this, the teachers were made aware of the things that they are good at, their strong points, and the specific areas of their personalities that are appreciated by others. This appreciation and affirmation helped the teachers to gain enough confidence to pursue the good things they were doing and feel positive about their own selves.
5. a syrup of God as the filling of one’s life, of one’s heart
Equal to love is God. God is love and everything else that is nice in the world, and that includes all humans that were born in positive disposition and are all meant for goodness. God should serve as the filling of a Sebastinian teacher because He alone is the one who could determine the value of the bread and put meaning to it. applying the analogy in practical life, we could say that a life lived away from God can hardly be called a life at all because, as we say, God is love and all the wonderful things one can hope the world could provide. There is always God whenever we go, only we do not go back to ourselves, in the inner most of the bread there He is, patiently waiting for our recognition which should not be the case. He is for us and we should be for Him.
6. a cup of trust for one’s identity to form into a gooey dough
Trust is something that is not easily fostered or made. It is like a plant that grows from heedful and conscientious acts of concern. It was highlighted in the retreat that one has to trust others the same way that one trusts himself. The trust we give to someone is a reflection of the trust we give to ourselves, that if we do not trust ourselves that much, we tend to doubt on what others could do, and that should not be the case.
7. a teaspoon or two of sheer smile to sweeten sour relationships
The teachers were all a picture of happy people. The retreat, in order to be successful, had to be filled with positive air which emanated from sheer smiles and acts of joy. Optimism and cheerful behavior really helped in mending broken ties in the company of the teachers.
8. a cup of affirmation to harmonize all the ingredients into a mixture
All these ingredients, when added in the mixture, needs to be harmonized by simple words of affirmation from one another. Appraisals are common to teachers for they are expected to give commendations and extend their appreciation to their students. Likewise, they were encouraged in the retreat to appraise each other for the positive and wonderful things they do. These appraisals motivate people to do better and excel in what they are doing. They are fuel to one mechanism that allows them to labor beyond what is expected of them, which in turn leaves beneficial outcomes. Affirming others set the mood for trust, love, acceptance, confidence, and warmth from friends to work together in the person’s subconscious that hopefully will clear their minds to do right.
In addition, the recipe requires unlimited patience, willingness to open up one’s preoccupations and difficulties to others, optimism in accepting one’s limitation, and most importantly God for order and guidance. Time is of course excluded in the list, yet it is equally important with the other ingredients for without it, the rest are null and of no use. So, preparing these elements is but a short step away from coming up with a successfully baked teacher.
Procedures: The Steps toward Loving and Affirming
After preparing all the right ingredients, take note of the following steps that one has to undertake to successfully end this baking session:
1. Mix the cup of trust with the teaspoon of confidence. Add the cup of affirmation and let them form a gooey mass which will later be the dough.
Always remember that one’s self-concept is derived from the extent of trust and confidence he puts into himself. The right amount of trust and confidence does not lead to bitter concoction, which the contrary does. It is also important to ponder that feeling positive about oneself leads to doing positive things. Further, receiving affirmation from others helps a lot in building up a tender person which we refer in this recipe as the dough. If a person seldom affirms others, then the dough must be sour; hence, may not be that palatable. As teachers following the patterns established by the Christian Faith, let us maintain good harmony among ourselves through the affirmations, trust and confidence we give and receive from the many stimuli external to our own.
2. Add to the mixture the slice of acceptance. Mix it well. Put a teaspoon or two of sheer smile. Be sure everything is well incorporated in the dough.
One of the easiest ways to show one’s acceptance to a person is through the smile one gives to others. If we have really accepted a person in the group, new teachers for example, we would not have any hesitation to smile at them whenever we have an opportunity to and whenever it is appropriate. The degree of acceptance one feels is best served by the frequency of smiles he receives in a day. The more we smile to a person, the more they would feel accepted and loved. Hence, let us be mindful of the frown and discomfort we give to a person for it may determine his perception on how accepted he is the group.
3. Put the secret ingredients – the sprinkle of love. Distribute love evenly above the dough. Squeeze in the syrup of God to serve as the filling. Make sure the whole dough is covered up well with love, and filled in with God.
As explain earlier, love should be the guiding force that ties up all the ingredients. Love is the most important ingredient in baking a Love-Coated, God-Filled Teacher because it is the element that envelops the other component of the whole dough. Without love, the dough would be a sour and uninteresting mixture of ingredients and who would be glad to consume such? Love should always be present. Love should never leave one’s heart because if it does, the other ingredients are nullified. God should also be placed in the middle of all things. He must be the core in which everything in one’s life depends. Just like love, God determines the worth of one’s labor. No matter how much trust, confidence and acceptance one has received, if God is absent in the recipe, any dish will not be successfully accomplished.
4. Bake the dough in just the right degree of heat from friends. Remove from the oven afterwards.
Things will always be easier to deal with when one is in the company of friends. A boring day would turn out to be a bliss whenever you are with people who care for you the same way as you do. The teachers in the retreat all experienced being with the people who helped them define themselves and be a better person in each of the days in their lives. Friends are the perfect elements who could solidify one strong mass into hardened bread.
Setting Up and Dining In
The most exciting part of all was the moment when everyone in the retreat looked back at what has transpired and changed in them in the short course of three days. The experience was truly rewarding and everybody from the teachers’ side was, undoubtedly, appreciative to the CMO for their efforts on taking the initiative to bake the teachers into Love-Coated, God-Filled Teachers. God bless and Bravo Baste!