Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Hard Road is the Happy One

It's a day away from Mother's Day, and though the article reproduced below is about a dad, I believe it captures well the spirit that animated my mom as she and my dad strove to provide the best kind of life that they could muster for me and my three younger sisters.

I think it would be no disrespect to my dad to say that it was my mom who was the hard-hitter in terms of finding out ways to come up with resources when perhaps the demand exceeded the supply. It was no small feat for them to have put me in the best school for boys in the country—perhaps, the whole of Asia (Xavier School, Greenhills)—and my three sisters in the best school for girls (Assumption Antipolo) when a middle class income would have rendered this close to impossible. To cut things short, me and my siblings were provided the best education possible and all of us now are in good, decent occupations. They may not be leaving us with an inheritance comprising of a hefty bank account when the time comes, but all that blood, toil, sweat and tears—especially my mom's—secured for us a happy future that we are living in today.

Thank you, Lord, for your providence in bringing me to the world through my mom!

The following is an article by William Kirkland entitled, "Dad's Road to Zestful Living," which appeared in the July 1990 issue of Reader's Digest Asia:

My father retired at age 68 from a church where he had served as pastor for 12 years. Prior to that, for some 30 years, he was a rural mail carrier and a pastor of four churches. Up and down the hills, he brought the mail and, on occasion, a prayer to the folks who made up his congregations.

On his 80th birthday, I sent Dad felicitations and filial words of wisdom. I noted the things we all should be thankful for on his behalf — good health, good friends, good battles and good outcomes. By most measurements he was a happy man.

Then I suggested it was time for him and Mom to slow down. At long last, in a comfortable home, with a generous pension, he should learn to take things easy.

"Relax, Dad," he quoted me as saying. "You've got it made!" That's how his letter back began, volleying my words across the net straight at me — the hardest return to handle.

"I know what you meant," he went on, "and I appreciate your compliment, but slowing down scares me." He acknowledged that none of us likes to travel on an uphill road with potholes (he knew a lot about bad roads). "But if we got our wish, and all troublesome experiences should cease, it might be the worst thing that could happen.

"Life isn't having it made; it's getting it made. Each necessary task requires an effort of will, and with each act something in you grows and is strengthened.

"The finest and happiest years of our lives," he exulted, "were not when all debts were paid, and all the trying and difficult experiences had passed, and we had settled into a comfortable home with no mortgage. No. I go back years ago, when we lived in a three-room house, when we got up before daylight and worked till after dark to make ends meet. I rarely had more than four hours of sleep. But what I still can't figure out is why I never got tired, never felt better in my life. I guess the answer is, we were fighting for survival, protecting and providing for those we loved."

He wasn't done setting me straight. "In this business of getting it made, it's not the great moments that count. It's the partial victories, the deadlocks, the waiting — even the defeats. If we are ever unlucky enough to have it made, then we will be spectators, not participants in life. It's the journey, not the arrival, that counts."

The letter ended with a personal request: "Son, on my next birthday, just tell me to wake up and get going, because I will have one less year in which to do things — and there are ten million things waiting to be done."

F. Scott Fitzgerald, in a letter to his daughter at college, once congratulated her for having gotten out of scholastic difficulties. Then he warned her that we have to justify ourselves each week of our lives. He quoted poet Christina Rossetti's words: "Does the road wind uphill all the way? Yes, to the very end."

Today, at 96, my father is still on that long road, climbing.

I think now would be an opportune time to review what the Reformed creeds have to say about parents (for our present purpose: moms):

The Heidelberg Catechism

Question 104. What does God require in the fifth commandment?

Answer: That I show all honour, love and fidelity, to my father and mother, and all in authority over me, and submit myself to their good instruction and correction, with due obedience; and also patiently bear with their weaknesses and infirmities, since it pleases God to govern us by their hand.

The Westminster Larger Catechism

Q. 123. Which is the fifth commandment?

A. The fifth commandment is, Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.

Q. 124. Who are meant by father and mother in the fifth commandment?

A. By father and mother, in the fifth commandment, are meant, not only natural parents, but all superiors in age and gifts; and especially such as, by God’s ordinance, are over us in place of authority, whether in family, church, or commonwealth.

Q. 125. Why are superiors styled father and mother?

A. Superiors are styled father and mother, both to teach them in all duties toward their inferiors, like natural parents, to express love and tenderness to them, according to their several relations; and to work inferiors to a greater willingness and cheerfulness in performing their duties to their superiors, as to their parents.

Q. 126. What is the general scope of the fifth commandment?

A. The general scope of the fifth commandment is, the performance of those duties which we mutually owe in our several relations, as inferiors, superiors, or equals.

Q. 127. What is the honour that inferiors owe to their superiors?

A. The honour which inferiors owe to their superiors is, all due reverence in heart, word, and behaviour; prayer and thanksgiving for them; imitation of their virtues and graces; willing obedience to their lawful commands and counsels; due submission to their corrections; fidelity to, defence, and maintenance of their persons and authority, according to their several ranks, and the nature of their places; bearing with their infirmities, and covering them in love, that so they may be an honour to them and to their government.

Q. 128. What are the sins of inferiors against their superiors?

A. The sins of inferiors against their superiors are, all neglect of the duties required toward them; envying at, contempt of, and rebellion against, their persons and places, in their lawful counsels, commands, and corrections; cursing, mocking and all such refractory and scandalous carriage, as proves a shame and dishonour to them and their government.

Q. 129. What is required of superiors towards their inferiors?

A. It is required of superiors, according to that power they receive from God, and that relation wherein they stand, to love, pray for, and bless their inferiors; to instruct, counsel, and admonish them; countenancing, commending, and rewarding such as do well; and discountenancing, reproving, and chastising such as do ill; protecting, and providing for them all things necessary for soul and body: and by grave, wise, holy, and exemplary carriage, to procure glory to God, honour to themselves, and so to preserve that authority which God hath put upon them.

Q. 130. What are the sins of superiors?

A. The sins of superiors are, besides the neglect of the duties required of them, and inordinate seeking of themselves, their own glory, ease, profit, or pleasure; commanding things unlawful, or not in the power of inferiors to perform; counseling, encouraging, or favouring them in that which is evil; dissuading, discouraging, or discountenancing them in that which is good; correcting them unduly; careless exposing, or leaving them to wrong, temptation, and danger; provoking them to wrath; or any way dishonouring themselves, or lessening their authority, by an unjust, indiscreet, rigorous, or remiss behaviour.

Q. 131. What are the duties of equals?

A. The duties of equals are, to regard the dignity and worth of each other, in giving honour to go one before another; and to rejoice in each others’ gifts and advancement, as their own.

Q. 132. What are the sins of equals?

A. The sins of equals are, besides the neglect of the duties required, the undervaluing of the worth, envying the gifts, grieving at the advancement of prosperity one of another; and usurping pre-eminence one over another.

Q. 133. What is the reason annexed to the fifth commandment, the more to enforce it?

A. The reason annexed to the fifth commandment, in these words, That thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, is an express promise of long life and prosperity, as far as it shall serve for God’s glory and their own good, to all such as keep this commandment.

Mom featured on a Robinsons Land Corporation billboard ad
(click on pic to enlarge)

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