When I was younger I have always noticed that I am slower than most of my classmates in terms of reacting and responding to people. I found this a little bit strange at first because my mind seem to work a bit faster for other things. I remember in college in one of our rare recollections, our facilitator asked us to choose between a horse and a turtle as symbol of our personality. Knowing myself to be really slow in matters of relating, I chose the turtle. Those who wrote horse were asked to stay on one side of the room and those who wrote turtle on the other side. In the group of 85 college students, I was the only one standing on the other side. To make the story short I was diagnosed as an introvert, an overly thinking person, lacking in empathy. And if I was dead serious in really becoming a teacher (I will be graduating in three months time), I better work double time in these aspects for more than anything else a good teacher is one who can quickly empathize with students. I was doomed, all because of a turtle. What saved me from not joining the graduation because of this verdict were Socrates’ “KNOW THYSELF” from my literature class and the 50 centavos istampita that my friend in high school gave me – “God grant me the serenity to accept …” These two dictum guided my spirit for a considerable length of years until it felt they were not enough.
When I was thrown in the world of work I met two types of workers: those who work and rest and those who work and work. Those who work and rest lack food for their body. But they were happy. Their soul sustained their body. Those who work and work were more privileged. They also seem to know who they are, they know what they want and they know how to get it. But they were not as happy as the first group of workers. They suffer for lack of food for the soul. They had forgotten that the soul needs sustenance – rest, silence, and connection with its creator. There’s where my feeling of emptiness is coming from. Simply knowing and accepting oneself is not enough. It needs to grow towards the Other with whom it belongs. This can happen only when one has time for prayer, for reflecting and recollecting. This realization has guided my soul in its journey for a considerable length of years until it felt there was something missing.
Knowing and accepting oneself are important but not enough. In the language of mathematics they are necessary but not sufficient conditions. Knowing oneself in Him is to know our identity but even this is not enough if it is not shared, if it is not witnessed, if that identity does not inform our behavior*. Fullness of life is attained only through un-knowing, through emptying of oneself for those He loves like He did for us. Only by the grace of God will I get fully to this stage.
*”Identity informs behavior”. This is St. Paul’s ethics according to Sr. Bernie Dianzon, FSP. Her book Glimpses is a must read for all of us.