Saturday, October 23, 2010

Being, Not Doing

It seems like my planned "Philosophy Fridays" are turning more into "Philosophy weekends."  Life is making demands, but I'll try to do a better job of scheduling posts for the next week.  In the meantime, for this week I just wanted to share a little bit of a follow-up to my previous post about Abigail, A Father's Joy.

We've had her for six weeks now.  I can't believe time has gone by so quickly.  I have this secret hope that life will somehow slow down, that she won't grow up and take off into the world, but I've lived enough of life to know that just isn't the case.  If anything, it'll feel like it's continuing to speed up.

This little girl, who can't speak, has a very limited vocabulary for communicating her needs (i.e. crying), and cannot even regulate her own bodily functions, has taught me a very important lesson in those six weeks:  Life is about being, not doing.  What I mean by that is, we humans, created in the image and likeness of God, don't derive our inherent worth and dignity from anything that we think, say or do; we get it from who we are and how we were created, not by what we do.

In a strictly utilitarian sense, Abigail cannot do anything for us.  She cannot produce.  She cannot contribute any novel, creative thoughts or ideas, art, music, or feats of engineering.  She cannot serve others or make conscious acts of faith or love (at least, I don't think she can, but she has an uncanny way of staring longingly at the crucifix, and reminds me that I need to do more of that), and only now is she beginning to be able to express glimpses of pleasure.  All that she can do is communicate her needs, in complete dependency, and rely on us to figure out what she needs and provide for her.  The utilitarian mindset would argue that she does not give at least as much as she takes and therefore has no worth as a human being.

I knew that utilitarian worldview was completely wrong.  In her, I have been given an even deeper glimpse into just how evil and self-interested it is.  It is what leads many to believe that, until a child in the womb can experience consciousness, it is not a human being, or that an adult who, through illness or injury, is no longer able to "contribute" to society, ought to be able to end their own life or have someone else make the decision to do it for them.

Now, being a father--even for only six weeks--I have had the chance to see a little bit more deeply how our Father in Heaven sees us, and how he created us to see each other, as beings with infinite worth from conception until natural death.  Thank goodness His is not a utilitarian view; if it were, we would be seen as rebels, waging war against His kingdom in our sin, instead of loving and allowing Him to love us. As a saying I heard a few months ago goes, "There is a reason we are called human beings, not human doings."

We are created to live in a relationship of love from from the first moment of our existence in our mother's womb, until He decides that our time in this life has come to a close and sends his messenger to carry us before His throne.  Sometimes that relationship of love is only one way, from Father to child, and it is that love alone that brings us into and holds us in existence.  That's right, without God's constant love for us, we would cease to exist.  Thank  God--that His love is infinite and suffices, even when we cannot, or choose not to, return it.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, burning with the Father's love for us, have mercy on us when we fail to love as you have created us to love.



  1. It's funny, b/c in a sense, time DOES slow down. You're very limited in what you can do- and when you do things with her- it takes FOREVER! The irony is that the days feel like weeks, but the weeks feel like DAYS! Time is flying by FAR too quickly!!

    I love this post. Thanks for pointing out the mercy of the Lord that He does not utilitarian! Thank you, Jesus!!!