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A Beautiful Soul

Today’s blog is by Ernest Yau.

“The meaning of earthly existence lies not, as we have been used to thinking, in prospering… but in the development of the soul.” (Alexander Solzhenitsyn)

As I gaze at him, every inch an ordinary man, I spot something extraordinary: an alive body, a surrendering mind and a loving heart. A beautiful soul indeed.

I meet Brother Tim (fictitious) in a Missionaries of Charity Home for the young and severely disabled who suffer physical, mental and emotional conditions. After ten years he finally takes his vow and commits his life to serve the poor. Though he knows he can always leave the order, that freedom perhaps draws him to stay. He is free to love God not out of duty, demand or obligation. Having been loved by the Other, he is compelled to love all others. A sort of choice-less choice. Cannot not.

Love is an active verb. It embodies many acts of kindness. As the helper shadows Brother Tim, their hearts pulse in sync. When one youth soils his diaper again just before bedtime, they patiently clean him up and put on a new one. With goodness they tuck the disabled in bed, silliness they laugh one last time, and sweetness they say goodnight to each. The long dimly lit hallway silhouettes two of them skip along playfully, sing a jolly hymn, and radiate the beauty of God. Two souls fully alive, an outward expression of living well in the body.

What fuels Brother Tim’s action is the mind of Christ (Philippians 2), the divine GPS. Instead of clinging to his right, he embraces a self-emptying life. Instead of loving a little, he loves till it hurts. Instead of striving to be successful, he cherishes being faithful to his calling. Instead of pushing to be strong, he exposes his weakness where Christ’s strength takes over (2 Corinthians 12). When a less disabled youth gets upset with him for applying shampoo to his hair—a sign of growing independence—he is humbled and human. When a more functional youth generously spends money he earns on treats for others, Brother Tim realizes he is standing on holy ground and witnessing God in everyday places and people. When they show increasing ability to clean, dress and feed themselves, his heart delights.

Ultimately the fruit of living well is rooted in the heart. Brother Tim drops down into that deep recess where he tends the garden of prayer, both solitary and communal, and replenishes his soul. From the Fountainhead God’s love flows and overflows and expresses itself in the smallest and obscurest ways through him who exudes an indescribable and unexplainable divine presence in the world. Every day in countless little dying and living in his body, mind and especially heart, he becomes the symbol of a beautiful soul.

To most people in the world Brother Tim could be just a fool, a holy fool at best. But to the least of the brothers of Jesus under his watch (Matthew 25), he isn’t. “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

(Ernest C. Yau     August 2019     ernestyau@aol.com)

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