Living for others

Today was one of those beautiful days of mid spring that abound in Western New York. May is a time here when Mother Earth comes back to life. She sheds her mantle of snow and gray and blue skies begin to dominate. Brother Sun fills the sky and I’m grateful to be alive. Following Mass at Mt. Irenaeus and the lovely brunch that follows it, I spent some time with my spiritual director, Fr. Louis McCormick, OFM. I’d been looking forward to our time together for a couple of weeks. Following our session I climbed in my car and drove over the Dansville, New York and the Finger Lakes Soaring Club. I thought maybe I’d take another ride in a glider. My fears one out again and I headed instead of Abbey of the Genesee. I got there in time for benediction. I love the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and so this was a real treat. After that ended I stopped in the Abbey bookstore and picked up a new book. It’s titled, “An Invitation to the Contemplative Life–Thomas Merton” edited by Wayne Simsic.

Today I was belittling myself after I gave up the idea of going for another glider ride at Dansville. I can get very rough with myself at times and reading this a section of this book was just what I needed today.

It is therefore of supreme importance that we consent to live not for ourselves but for others. When we do this we will be able to first of all face and accept our own limitations. As long as we secretly adore ourselves, our own deficiencies will remain to torture us with an apparent defilement. But if we live for others, we will gradually discover that no one expects us to be “as gods.” We will see that we are human, like everyone else, that we all have weaknesses and deficiencies, and that these limitations of ours play a most important part in all our lives. It is because of them that we need others and others need us. We are not all weak in the same spots, and so we supplement and complement one another, each one making up in himself for the lack in another. Only when we see ourselves in our true human context as members of a race which is intended to be one organism and “one body,” will we begin to understand the positive importance of not only our successes but of the failures and accidents of our lives.–No Man Is An Island-Thomas Merton

One Reply to “Living for others”

  1. I have been fond of the “Desiderata” poem since grade school, when a much loved teacher gave it to me to read. In particular, the reminder “Be gentle with yourself for you are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars.” spoke to me.

    Sometimes it is important to remember that we need gentleness just as much as the rest of the universe. One of the things I really like about my musical instructor is that he will stop me if he thinks I’m about to beat up on myself and ask me to compare the music I produced 1 minute ago to the music I produced 1 week ago.

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