Monday, November 02, 2009

On being and having

There exist two realities in the life of a human person. The first refers to one's existence, being. The other necessary flows from it, having.

Being refers to the gift of one's personhood. This gift comes with a neatly wrapped package. I call it having. The very gift is paramount. The wrapper, I say, is merely an accessory. It is delightful to receive a gift covered in an attractive packaging. But the very gift suffices.

One could not ask for more.

I first encountered the polarity between these two great realities when I first set foot in the seminary grounds. Apart from the constant reminders of our seminary formators to pay utmost attention to my being and after which, develop my having, I earned one great insight from living with old Salesians who continue to live as beings despite the noticeable continued loss of their having.

These ageing confreres are no longer capable of carrying out an active ministry of teaching inside the classroom, assisting in the playground, celebrating Mass, hearing confessions. They are merely confined to wheel chair, or worse bed.

This brought me to realize that once upon a time, they were appreciated by the congregation with what they had: brilliance, skills, awesome intelligence, burning charism, passion for apostolate in bringing heaven to the young.

Now, they surrender all these and what remains seems to be the essentials: their being.

It makes me think how difficult must have been the transition from active life to a passive one.

It makes me cringe every time the thought visits me. I do not have my youth forever. And like them, in the proximate future, I will have to contend with the loss of my having.

I dread the day when I am reduced to being stuck in a place devoid of what seemed to decorate my life.

But then, the realization that one's being refers to the gift of one's personhood.

The very gift is paramount, the wrapper, is merely an accessory. It is delightful to receive a gift covered in an attractive packaging. But the very gift itself suffices.

One could not ask for more.

There exist two realities in the life of a human person. The first, refers to one's existence, being. The other necessary flows from it, having.