I wonder—what the world would be like if we were only able to see the best in the people around us. If we could just see through to the good that lies within.
Wonder what it would be like if we were truly able to forgive. Truly able to let go. Able to release and then move on.
I would love to understand what it means to really love someone— love done flawlessly. Perfectly and whole.
I wonder— what it feels like to live life free of resentment. Free of offense and insult.
Wonder what it would be like to have no enemies, no rivals, opponents or adversaries.
What would my life be like if I was able to deeply understand other people and their story? Able to know why they are the way they are, know what makes them tick. Would it make me a more caring, compassionate person?
I wonder what it feels like to desire nothing. To feel secure, content and grateful for exactly what I have been given.
I wonder what it feels like to be free from pride, arrogance, anger, rage, disappointment, fear.
Recently, I witnessed a breakdown in a relationship that brought pain to those involved. Someone had been emotionally hurt and wounded within a circle of connection due to an offense instigated by another individual, a transgression which occurred many years previous. That one injury, when spoken of, led to confession of many more offenses felt by those involved, all serving to complicate things by bringing extraneous issues and ‘wrongs done’ into the story not connected to the original problem.
Things quickly became very messy, and the ripple effect of this experience was quite troubling. Not only were the individuals directly involved affronted; many others not even connected to the original problem quickly began to take sides. This sadly is so typical of the human experience—in our fragility, we are so easily wounded. So easily are we divided.
Vanier (1998) suggests another way, a path journeyed with consciousness, if you will. He maintains that we have freedom to orientate our lives in one direction or another. He states that “this freedom can lead us into anguish and a fear of becoming, or it can lead us into growth and new life” (Vanier , 1998, p. 3). For me, the new life Vanier speaks of has been a way of seeing differently. A way of understanding differently. Of knowing differently. Of experiencing differently. It is thus a spiritual awareness of who I am in relation to God and the various others that come across my path. For in becoming human, and recognizing both my weaknesses as well as my strengths, I am coming to see that I am not the only one entitled to care. There are people with whom I share this human experience, for whom I must care; further, these fellow beings I exist and grow alongside in this process of becoming are deserving of my care by virtue of their own humanness. Understanding this enables me to consciously see that this way of living is the only way for me, in which to grow and become all I was meant to be.
Vanier (1998) puts it another way, stating that becoming human implies that we must both “be someone, to have cultivated our gifts, and also (to) be open to others, to look at them not with a feeling of superiority but with eyes of respect” (p. 3). Becoming human, for Vanier (1998), is a process of becoming wise with love. I too desire this form of compassionate wisdom.
Personally, I have come to this juncture in my life with great difficulty, traveling paths both tenderly and (at times) abrasively cultivated by the many supports which lift and hold me. A steadfast faith in God, the good parents given to me, my loving husband, dearly cherished family, those wise mentors who have nurtured me, good literature, steady, caring relationships, my professional work, an education founded in the liberal arts—all these have been among the guiding lights in my life leading me forward on a path of understanding, pointing me to an understanding knowledge of why care is essential to the human experience. Include with this, the unique set of circumstances, preferences, traits and beliefs that make me uniquely who I am: this is why I care. I care because I am human. And I am coming to care more even as I become who I was humanly meant to be, a process realized through living out each of life’s little and monumental moments. I now comprehend: becoming human is all I have ever wanted to be.
I am becoming human in my interactions with my own person-hood, making gains at understanding myself better and caring for myself in more intentional ways. I am becoming human in my interactions with my family, seeing the value in each person I have always loved, whom I love a little more deeply each day I am given breath and life to experience. I am coming to see the joy in sacrifice, the value in surrender. This is part of my calling, part of loving another human being. I am becoming human in my interactions with my students—seeing the meaning in instilling an ethic of care in both my classroom and places of influence. I am becoming human in the ways in which I perceive the world. In the ways in which I understand the human beings with whom I share this planet. I am becoming human in the ways in which I care about both the material and non-material world of which I inhabit.
I am becoming human through my understanding and appreciation of difference, of ideas, of values, of morality, of spirituality. Becoming human through cultivating an appreciation of all that contributes to my human experience.
I am becoming human. And this aspiration is what I believe I have always hoped to be. A person who is living her life to the fullest. A person caring for those around her with joy and passion, maintaining an inner peace and fulfillment from a life of service that defies finite understanding. A person at peace with who she was, who she is and who she eventually will be. A person anticipating her future becoming—even while she appreciates the person she is today.
Vanier’s (1998) words provide a closing thought: “peace will come through dialogue, through trust and respect for others who are different, through inner strength and a spirituality of love, patience, humility, and forgiveness” (p. 4). This kind of peace surrounds those who know what it is they desire to become in this life. It is the very air they breathe.
In this great adventure of becoming human, I am finding peace through caring. In the process, I am becoming all I was ever meant to be.