A Good and Simple Man

While listening to a religious radio programme, the moderator noted that only men could teach their sons certain lessons. Living in a matriarchal society, the percentage of fathers who live with their sons is decreasing, for a variety of reasons. Women have had enough of being treated unfairly by their partners and they ask the fathers to leave. Some men choose to abandon their families. Other men live apart from their children who are raised in other households. Yet there is an increase in the percentage of men who live with their children as they either follow the good examples set by their fathers or vow to be unlike the fathers who left them as children.

My father taught his daughter what it means to be a good father. The moderator explained the four important lessons which only a man can teach his son. A father must teach his son to be a protector, provider, a servant leader and a spiritual mentor. This is the effectual role of man. God created man not only to be fruitful and multiply but to rule over the earth. He put him a little lower than the heavenly beings. Why must it be the father? What is wrong with the mother teaching her sons these lessons?

People were afraid of my father, until they got to know him. The male of the species is usually more aggressive and defensive. He must act that way to protect his territory from his enemies. The territory includes possessions but more importantly the family. In certain societies men were trained to be warriors. In the prehistoric Carib society, the men lived apart from the women. From the age of four, boys went to live with the men. At thirteen, they were initiated as priests or warriors. Each initiation was intense as the boys were taught to bear immense pain without flinching. A flinch shows weakness and weakness will not be tolerated by men. In West African societies, males underwent an initiation ceremony, similar to that of the Carib. Today men are still expected to be the protector; from small acts as walking on the car side of the street to ensuring that if anything happens to the family, they will be there as a protector.

My father earned less money than my mother, yet he ensured that the family’s needs were met. Over half a century ago, women did not work. They were expected to engage in activities in the private sphere of life. This encompassed the household duties such as cooking, washing, pressing and rearing the children. Today the woman’s role has expanded as in addition to the beforehand mentioned duties, she has a job. In some cases in the woman may be the sole breadwinner. She will pay all costs associated with the family. The moderator realized that in the modern society when a couple is dating, the woman is expected to pay. This does not reflect the teachings of the father and son, where the man is the provider. Even if he does not earn the largest salary in the household, his earnings should go towards providing for his family’s needs.

My father brought his problems to God before he made any decisions. As a priest, my father would meditate deeply every morning. I did not understand why. As a little girl all I knew was that I should not disturb him for he was meditating. When there was conflict among church members, he meditated and embarked upon a decision making process that benefitted those involved. When I told him about my pregnancy with my first child and I was unmarried, he did not speak to me for two days. Afterwards he said that he will be a grandfather now. I knew how difficult it was to utter those words on his part. But it showed acceptance of the situation and his unconditional love for me. My father embodied the traits of a servant leader. Before he led his congregation or his family, he consulted with God through prayer and meditation. He knew that God was in control and he trusted in His wisdom and guidance.

My father was a spiritual mentor. Many people admired and looked up to him. Many people relied on him physically, emotionally, spiritually and intellectually. He supported so many persons during their personal challenges in life. His life was not his own. He lost his life and found it through serving God. That is why he still lives within my heart. We were together in the house when he died and he still embodied those four important lessons in his last hours on earth. He knew that he was dying and he protected me by carrying on as if all was well when it was clearly the opposite. He provided for me because when I had to go to the supermarket to buy a few groceries, he gave me too much money. When I confronted him he said that I will need it. He was a servant leader because he consulted with God in his devotions before he died on the anniversary of his ordination as a priest. He was a spiritual mentor because on the day that he died his best friend needed his advice on an intellectual matter and his support at a service commemorating their ordination. My father said that he would not be able to make it but he would be there in the spirit. And that is exactly how it is.

 

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Happiness Is The Truth

“If you want to be happy, be.” Leo Tolstoy

“The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.” Oprah Winfrey

“Whoever is happy will make others happy.” Ann Frank

“Love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.” Robert A. Heinlein

“The power of finding beauty in the humblest things, make home happy and life lovely.” Louisa May Alcott

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Everyone can achieve happiness.  Leo Tolstoy simply connects happiness with being. Oprah Winfrey gives happiness more detail as she notes the importance of celebration and praise which comes from within. While hiding from the Nazis in the secret space which her father fashioned, Ann Frank wrote in her diary about the necessity of using your happiness to make others happy. Robert A. Heinlein balances Frank’s sentiment as he links love with happiness. In order to feel love, others’ sense of happiness is as important as your own.

Louisa May Alcott is more famous for her publications such as Little Women. Her perspective of happiness demonstrates the role humility plays in the home and by extension in other aspects of life. Home should be a place where one cultivates a sense of purpose. Home should be a supportive place where one can have the balance of worship, work, play and rest. Home should be a place where good morals and values are taught with supportive socialization skills. The reality is that other institutions such as the church and school teach the morals, virtues and values which should be experienced within the home. Society is built upon the thoughts, speech and actions of its members. Presently some areas of society are discordant.

Mahatma Gandhi notes that when thoughts, speech and actions are harmonized the consequence is happiness. Harmony occurs in music when different pitches blend to create a tone which gives the ears pleasure. Happiness occurs in life when different values of faith, hope and love blend to create a life which gives God pleasure. Faith is the belief of the tangible and intangible. Belief of the intangible requires a deeper level of faith. Senses, other than sight, qualify its value.  Hope is a beautiful value to possess, for it validates the reason for being. Coupled with faith, hope can be a powerful addition to life. Hope increases the will to survive. Without love, faith and hope cannot endure. Love inculcates the virtues of patience and kindness. These significant virtues are developed with time and life experience.

With the utensils of love, hope and faith in hand, happiness is attainable.  The current state of life may not reflect happiness. It may be filled with woes and lamentations.  The persons quoted have a common thread. By experiencing extremely distressing times in their lives, they could truly understand happiness. They realized that the true meaning of happiness lies in being true to self. True happiness is experienced in experiencing spiritual enlightenment. It is not the job of others to make you happy. For, the praise of men is incomparable to the harmony and beauty which God brings through the appreciation of the simple things in life.  

 

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One Step at a Time

The young man looked better after the accident four weeks ago. Life-saving machines were surrounding him. God has a reason for keeping this young man alive. Believe that this reason will be revealed at the right time. The man who hit him would not claim liability. As far as he was concerned he hit the wall and the wall hit the young man. Life has a way of catching up to you. The doctors said he wouldn’t be like he was before; a vibrant seventeen year old with a promising future in store. He is a quad paraplegic. He will never be able to use his limbs again because his spinal cord had been severed clean. He could barely talk, but he whispered his words of hope and gratitude to God. 

Victim- Survivor- Victor. Life can change in a split second and bring about the most challenging stage ever experienced. This stage forces you to walk by faith and not by your capabilities. What worked before in life has no relevance in this present test. It is comparable to the broken pieces of a beautiful vase, and you are at the point where your emotions are overflowing and you hold these pieces in your hand. What do you do? How can you fix it? Will it ever get back to how it was before?

The path to victory begins with the first step towards the challenge. It may seem daunting at first. There will be negative voices from the inside and the outside. It starts with your desire to overcome and become a winner. Release the struggle and resistance. The situation becomes easier. Place trust in a more powerful entity. This allows for an amazing transformation. Opportunities never thought as possible enter into life.

It is imperative to grieve over the way of life before that split second change. This process has five steps. Sometimes the steps may be repeated in the journey towards victory. This is quite natural as everyone goes at their unique pace. The first step is denial, when the mind can’t comprehend or won’t compromise with the end of this stage of life. The second step is anger. Anger is a natural emotion which is necessary to experience. Yet the expression of anger should not cause you to sin. Express anger through exercise of the body and mind or journaling, or writing un-mailed letters or even talking to a close person. Crying cleanses the heart and anger can be expressed through tears as well.

Continuing the grieving process is the third step of depression. This is definitely the time for counseling and listening to well intended advice. This advice is characterized by edifying words. The fourth step is guilt. Guilt is overcome by placing it into God’s hands. Ask God for forgiveness and then forgive yourself. The fifth and final step is acceptance. In this stage, your life story becomes a platform for others. Sharing your life and accepting that what is coming is better than what is gone, helps in the completion of the grieving process.

In the end, there is victory. After taking the first step, there is a process which transforms you into a stronger person, better equipped for life’s challenges. Change yourself and leave the changing of other people and circumstances in God’s capable hands. You may stumble along the journey. You may fall but God is the familiar sustenance. Place your trust in God and your journey towards victory will be as satisfying as your attainment of your goal. Spirituality brings a deeper level of awareness that is not of this world and it cuts the cords of death which is associated with worldly fixations.