With the opening of classes, I noticed that most parents I have talked to, or even the youth, have this nervous anticipation for the new school year. Parents are anxious about the new friends their children will have and the influence (good of had that these friends will exert on their young ones. On the other hand, the children are afraid to face a new set of teachers, the dreaded homework, and paperwork. As a first grader told me, “Father, what if all my teachers were super strict?” We are afraid of things that might not even be.
Perhaps there are really a lot of butterflies in peoples’ stomachs these days, but maybe there are a lot more worries going ’round their minds. All because of the great unknown. We know not what the future holds. Yet we often wish we do. This is the main source of anxiety. Can anyone really see the future through a crystal ball? Does anyone really have access to what the future holds?
If you ask any parent why he sends his child to school, the common answer is: “to build my child a future.” Certainly, we understand this to mean that each parent wants his child to learn to read, write, add, multiply and learn a number of things so that the child will land a good job someday as an adult. But does anybody know what happens in between? Does anybody really care about what happens in the process of learning? Do we give the process of growing up and learning as much importance as we do on graduation day? Do we emphasize the beauty of now, or are our eyes so focused on tomorrow? Will tomorrow ever come? Does anyone know that for sure?
A young lady, once an overseas worker in Japan, used to frequent the EDSA Shrine. Occasionally, she would take her nephew, who has somehow bonded with me, and they would see me at the Sacristy for a blessing. The other day, I bumped into her, and while catching up on how life has treated her, I found out that her sister, who had a baby two months ago, lost the baby to bronchopneumonia. I listened as she explained that she took care of the baby herself at the Philippine General Hospital. Her sister could not care for her baby because she was recovering from the birthing experience. This lady kept talking to her sick niece, urging the infant to please fight this disorder because there was so much in store for her in the future. She kept talking to her about their future; what they would do together.
She felt very strongly that this would serve as an incentive for the infant to fight for her life. She found herself making promises to the child. Unfortunately, the child had no future. She died five days after living on tubes and a suction apparatus. So why did she live such a short life?
Many of us will probably think. “What a waste!” Is it really such a waste? Will our life be a waste if tomorrow never comes? No one really knows if there will be a tomorrow.
In one of the inspiring writings of Leo Tolstoy, he created a literary character named Michael. Michael was punished by God and sent back to earth to answer several very important questions: What did human beings receive? What did human beings not receive? But why do human beings live? Michael almost reached the point of despair in searching for the answers. Just when he was about to give up after six years of tedious search, he got the three answers: We received the power to love. We did not receive the power to know the future. Man and woman live not by the fruits of their toils but by the fruits of the love they receive from others.
Going back to that child fighting for dear life at the hospital ward, it is easy to see now what her short life could have been for. She lived and suffered so that all those around her, including her neighbors whom this lady has approached for financial assistance, could show how much they would love and care for others in need. When she died, it would be a waste if the equally poor neighbor said, “What a pity. We should have just given our money to someone else.” That is wasteful thinking. How wonderful it will be tough if everyone instead thinks that they are happy they were able to help. They are happy that they have helped an angel. Hopefully, this child has helped people come out of their narrow thinking and their selfishness. This child’s life could very well be in the cement that bonded this community if each one saw this action with the eyes of love and faith.
We have received the unlimited favor to love. This is such an empowering reality. We should never allow the paralysis of hatred and indifference to stand in the way of love. Many times, we dare not love for fear of getting hurt, for fear of being abused, or for fear of being misunderstood for our motivations. What is it to give a little to someone in need? How can anyone who turns a deaf ear to the pleas and cries of the poor be better off? We keep thinking that perhaps someone else in the future can better use the gifts, the talents, or the money. It is best to act now! Love now! The future may not come, and then we get stuck with a present that has no meaning because it has no love.
And yes, this elusive future. What people do just to conquer it. We attempt to control the future through our insurance system, the careful use of “feng shui,” our superstitious beliefs, and the daily reading of the horoscope. In fact, a friend tells me that she noticed this year in the United States there is a mushrooming of psychics strategically located in California.
Apparently, it is a thriving business because they even advertise their services. Obviously, people go and patronize them. People are addicted to wanting to know the future. But the future is not ours. It is Gods, Only God knows what awaits us. All He asks us, with consistency, is that we love and we pray. He assures us He will take care of the rest.
Let us not be dragged into this thinking that glorifies independence and self-fulfillment. We become who we are by the amount of love and support that we receive. And God knows when we are ready for the picking. Loving and having been loved lead us to: love Himself – be it at two months old or at 102 years old.
THE FUTURE IS NOT OURS
Jesus Our Light