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PERSONS ARE OUR BEST GIFTS

Inspirational Stories
For Person-Centered Living
 

 

HEDWIG LEWIS SJ

 

 

We treasure people

and particular persons

for the several ways

in which they enrich our lives

and bring out the best in us.
 

 

 

 


 

Synopsis

 

Persons are our best-loved gifts. People are our greatest assets. We treasure people and particular persons because they enrich our lives and in turn, we bring out the best in each other. We are all children of God (Rom 8:14). Thanks to Jesus, who took on our human nature and exemplified what it is means to be created in the “likeness” of God (Genesis 1.27), we can, by imitating him, be godlike in our attitudes, actions and relationships to people.

This book is a treasury of “people-gifts”. There are over a hundred “true” stories – fact or fiction – that mirror the realities we experience. They necessitate “reflection” and enable us to visualize our actual or projected “image”, and want to reform. The psycho-spiritual inputs that contextualize the stories help facilitate such reflection.

Persons are our Best Gifts, in brief, highlights the value of “Persons” and emphasizes “close encounters” with a variety of “personality types”. Over and above personal reflection, this collection of inspiring and motivational stories-with-a-difference can be used as a powerful tool by parents, educators and animators for instruction and discussion. It is a handy resource and reference book for professionals, presenters, preachers and pen-persons.
 

 


FOREWORD


Nikos Kazantzakis was walking along a dusty path in his native Crete, when an elderly woman was passing by, carrying a basket of figs. She paused, picked out two figs, and presented them to the author.

“Do you know me, old lady?” Kazantzakis asked.

She glanced at him in amazement, “No, my boy. Do I have to know you to give you something? You are a human being, aren’t you? So am I. Isn’t that enough?”


The woman may have been a fruit-seller, but she was obviously not mercenary in her approach to people. She had the human touch!

People can be human and humane only if they consider others as their own flesh and blood, as members of their own extended family in this global village to which we all belong.

There is another dimension for Christians to accept everyone as human family. We are each and all children of God (Rom 8:14). Jesus took on our human nature, and has so graced humanity that we can experience what it is means to be created in the “likeness” of God, as we are (Genesis 1.27). Jesus modeled how humans can be godlike in their attitudes and actions. He loved people unconditionally: sinner and saint, poor in means and poor of spirit, the lofty and the lowly, the wise and the innocent, high and low, sick and suffering, old and young. He was person-oriented, treating everyone as brothers and sisters of his Father.

One of the secrets of “godlike” living is to consider everything as “grace”, which in simple terms means “gift”. We are all graced by God. Creation is grace. People, too.

We live in grace when we accept our own humanity as a gift from God – a gift meant to be shared. The gifts we give and receive are symbolic of the love we have for one another. “God is love… Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him… Let us love one another” (1 John 4:8, 16, 7). Persons are symbolic of the love of God for us. Through the love he gave and received, Jesus proved to us in a variety of ways that “persons are gifts”. Every person is God’s gift to humanity. I am a gift to others just as others are gifts to me. PERSONS ARE OUR BEST GIFTS!



SECTION ONE
PERSON-CENTERED



INTRODUCTION


You do not need be an expert in Human Resource Development to convince yourself that the “secret of success” in life is the ability to interact with people – properly and effectively. Interaction entails loving and being loved, giving and receiving, listening and responding. The fundamental requirement for proper and effective interaction is an attitude of “person-centeredness” – where the main focus of your life and activity is the person, rather than things or even ideals.

In effective relationships you focus on persons as persons, rather than diffuse your attention with whatever surrounds them while you relate to them. Focusing on individual persons gives depth and an added dimension to your words, your body language, and of course, your interaction: the essentials to a sound relationship.

You know you are person-centered in thought and action, when you possess one or several, if not all, of the following attributes and qualities of personality and behavior: selflessness, humility, compassion, concern, empathy, service-mindedness...

The basic attitude for extending ourselves to another person is “fellow-feeling” – brotherhood and sisterhood. It is the firm conviction that humanity is family, that my ‘neighbor’ is my brother or sister, whatever her or his color, caste, creed, country... or convictions, concerns, and credibility.

When your priorities are proper, you will automatically communicate to every one you come across – by your very attitudes – the singular though often silent message: “You are more precious to me than anything else in this world.”

This is a principle that caring parents and teachers, as well as those in authority, need to have and to bear in mind constantly, because of the innumerable opportunities that crop up daily by which to practice it.

This book is full of stories – all true to life, whether factual or fictional. They capture the essential spirit of person-centeredness. They are neither exhaustive not exclusive, only succinct illustrations of the depth and reach of the theme. Do not read them cursorily or for mere entertainment. They are meant to instruct and provoke further reflection. So, STOP and THINK!

The curiosity-ridden mind will be tempted to rationalize: I will read all the stories as quickly as I can, then do a second round for reflection. Feel free to exercise your responsibility. However, bear in mind this fact: when you read a story the first time, something impresses you. Psychologically speaking, it is beneficial to stay with that “something” till you are satisfied that you can articulate it, have got a hold on it, before you move on. When you savor it, you can be sure it will be ingrained deep in your memory and spring up when the need arises to illustrate appoint to good measure.
 



SECTION TWO
PERSON TO PERSON



INTRODUCTION

In the previous section you experienced what it means to be person-centered. You examined the different aspects of living life in loving relationships. You learned about what is involved when you keep your focus on people even at the expense of self-care and material benefits. The main theme was: How must a person-centered person reach out to others?

In this section, your focus will also be on people from a different perspective. The underlying theme here is: Who are the various persons that I have to reach out to? What kind of people do I normally encounter in life?

The world around you is full of bright and beautiful, dull and ugly people. From a person-centered point of view, you love and accept people as they are. But to do so effectively, you must be aware of the different 'characters' who appear on this stage called life, and learn a thing or two about them and from them. Some will inspire you. Others will warn you of what to avoid in order to make the world a better place for people to live in. Everyone has a lesson to teach you – if you are ready and willing to learn.


 

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