I have been doing a lot of flocking lately (hmmm.. why doesn’t that sound right?). I have been meeting and spending time with different groups of people who were part, and still part, of different times (era Ninang?), and areas of my life. Friends from Highschool, friends and co-workers in church, colleagues from my teaching department, friends and colleagues from my service department, colleagues from a posh hospital, trainees, students, kids, teachers. Work, rest, play (it’s summer after all Ninang!) — different combinations. I am starting to feel like a social butterfly (I thought we will be talking about “birds” Ninang?). And it made me think, what makes us love going to one group and feel uncomfortable in another?

The study of the mind and behavior (psychology Ninang?) says we trust and are likely to believe people who dress and act like us. Unless of course we don’t trust ourselves (then we get attracted to those different from us Ninang? “Hmmm, you have a point!”). A popular saying goes, “tell me who your friends are, and I’ll tell you who you are”. An alleged Japanese proverb says “when the character of a man is not clear to you, look at his friends”. (What if he has no friends Ninang? “Next paragraph please.”) We gravitate to and are at ease with those most like us.

Loners and introverts are therefore caught in the vicious cycle of not having a group to go too. No one can figure them out because they are attached to no one. Only the bravest, who mostly operates on trust, and mostly trust in God, can break the cycle for these kind of people. I am a recipient of such trust (in God). I have been gifted with good (best) friends who decided one day to get to know me better and accept me despite “me” (what about “you” Ninang? “That’s another story!”). And because they are (good, smart, kind, beautiful?), I become (actually I’m a work in progress).

There is security (and more laughter, and warmth) in numbers. So it’s easy to understand why people want company. But we cannot go “flocking” to so many groups and activities. It’s possible you end up empty– maneuvering your schedule too much, trying to live up to the expectations of people, trying to please too many people.. they leave you empty. Because you cannot meet everyone’s needs as you would want to. And then you just want to stay home and rethink and ask yourself (Ninang, you sound lonely..).. which flock do you truly belong to? Do you really belong to any at all?

For the past few days, I was just in a small flock people call Family. Walking to breakfast in a cool morning..pine trees all around.. feeling adventurous treading a muddy path in the forest under the rain.. eating dinner prepared by a World-class  chef.. Together. Happiness. Is this the only flock I truly belong to?

So it got me thinking. Maybe it’s not really the flock per se but who the flock follows that matters. Who do you follow? What do you stand for? Whose voice do you hear and listen to? And maybe, in a global (what about universal Ninang?) perspective, amidst all groups of friends, committees, organizations, institutions, country, race- there is really just one important flock. With members beyond boundaries of time, space, and purpose. They have just one thing in common: they listen to the voice of the Good Shepherd. That is their “feather”. May we all belong there.
“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me– just as the Father knows me and I know the Father–and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.” (Our Lord and Savior Jesus in John 10:14-16)

“Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.” (1 Corinthians 15:33)

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what Gods will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2)
-Ninang listening thoughts

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