When There Seems To be No Way Out...

Traveling at night by foot sure sends chills to my spine as a young girl. What child isn't scared of the dark when your adult companions talk about someone's scary encounter with a Santelmo?

The story was told one moonless night on our way to visit my aunt, who lives about 10 minutes away. To get to her house, we have to pass by a stream of water, a huge mango tree that looks spooky in the dark, a muddy footpath, and dew-drench plants with croaking frogs and chirping crickets in the background. When you're young and impressible, you'd start to think, I didn't sign up for this. Why did I come? Thankfully, with a sigh of relief, nothing supernatural happened that evening.

According to my grandma, a Santelmo is the spirit of a dead person that lingers in the area after they're gone. It is believed they spawn in the spot where they died near bodies of water. It looks like a ball of fire to the naked eye. When someone is lost in the dark, it appears to give false hope that a town is nearby. If an unsuspecting victim follows it, they will soon realize they are winding down on the same path for hours ends. Tired. Lost. Trapped.

'But fret not', my grandma assured. There's a way out of Santelmo's maze...

When There Seems To be No Way Out...
[photo source]

It's uncomfortable to find yourself in enigmatic situations, going in circles for who knows when. Facing the same old obstacles. Standing in the same old circumstances. I may not have seen this Philippine mythological creature in real life -- and I may never ever cross paths with one -- but that doesn't mean I haven't encountered something like it in the real world. They come in the form of... yes, problems whether in my personal life or work.

It sure is frustrating to fight your way out of a hurdle only to find nothing's making any progress. When fear jeers all the things that could go wrong and you start to agree and pre-meditate on a thousand negative outcomes that would ensue. Sometimes, I wish the escape is as simple as what my grandma told us out of Santelmo's illusion.

"It's easy-peasy." She encouraged. "Take your clothes off and wear them inside out." I laugh at this advice now. Does it work? Well, just because it wasn't my own experience doesn't mean I have to invalidate someone else's. Perhaps it does. My grandma is sure of it.  

But this I'm sure. In the real world, stumbling blocks can only be addressed with real solutions. Not questionable quick fixes from unknown sources.

As of writing, I find myself in a Santlemo-like puzzle again. In all honesty, I don't know how I'll find my way out of the deadlock. And I'm tempted to give up. In fact, a lot of times. But somehow deep inside, I know I'll make it out. Maybe not now, not tomorrow but in due season.

And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
~ Romans 5:3-5 NKJV

Remembering how I made it out in the past, these are some of the things that help.
  • Detach my thoughts out of the problem -- which isn't an easy task by the way
  • Destress by exercising or sleeping or engaging in other soul-filling activities
  • and most important of all, prayer.

My answer doesn't always drop off in an instant but it does come. At times, the solution is straightforward. Other times, it's a process. And I must confess, I'm not calm all the way through. I had my crazy episodes in the in-betweens too. (lol)

But had I not persevered, I'd probably still be the immature, weak-minded person I use to be. (Not that I've arrived but at least I've left). One that is caught up in false hopes. Thankfully with the grace of God, I'm still here hammering my way through, trooping on the path of hope that never disappoints.