April 6, 2008. It’s another beautiful Sunday. I went to the Antipolo Cathedral again for Sunday Mass. I also went to look for the lay minister who was in my winning Palm Sunday photo entry to give him a copy of the photo.
Brother Jim is an amiable guy. He smiles easily and to say that he is accommodating is an understatement. The elderly gentleman is pleasantly warm like morning sunshine. Too bad–no camera equals no souvenir photo. I would have loved capturing his happy face underneath the ever-present sombrero. I handed him a copy of the photo. He said in jest that I won the contest because he had his back turned when I took the picture. He seemed extremely happy as he brought out a pen, asking me to write down full details including my contact number. He wanted to show the photo to Monsy (the Monsignor). I thanked him, but before I left, I asked if he would still be around the vicinity in 5 to 10 minutes’ time. “Yes,” he said.
I went back to the photo developer across the church plaza to pick up the rest of the photos–my own copy of the winning entry and a copy of another photo which I opted not to use as contest entry. I thought the photo looked quite nice, and a nice man like Brother Jim might appreciate another nice Palm Sunday photo. I went back to the church’s office, brought the photo out of its envelope and handed it to Brother Jim. I told him that it was the photo that I personally liked, but I didn’t use it as a contest piece. “Lupa,” he said.
Puzzled, I asked what he meant. He said as he pointed to the upper midportion of the photo, “Eto o, may salitang LUPA sa larawan na ito (See here–there’s the word LUPA on this photo”. I stared at the photo for a few seconds. Indeed, the tips of the palm fronds on motion blur seemed to have formed the letters L-U-P-A. Lupa is the Filipino (Tagalog) word for earth or soil.
Brother Jim further explained the significance of the word LUPA in my photo. Lupa symbolizes dust. He said, “Dust we are, and to dust we shall return”.
He added, “Sa susunod na Ash Wednesday, magiging abo ang mga palaspas na ito. Ito ang mensahe ng salitang ‘lupa’. (Come Ash Wednesday, these palm fronds shall turn to dust. That is the significance of the word Lupa”. On Ash Wednesday which is the first day of the Lenten Season, dried palm fronds from the previous year’s Palm Sunday are burned to produce ashes to be used to mark crosses on the Catholic believers’ foreheads, symbolizing repentance before God.
Brother Jim thought that this photo would have made a good contest entry, too, because of the message contained therein.
It is truly amazing how God sends us messages even through simple photos. This is one photo that I definitely will remember for a very long time. I feel blest many times over to have captured this photo and the message it contained. I feel the love of God.