After leadership comes eldership
PURPLE SHADES - Letty Jacinto-Lopez (The Philippine Star) - January 2, 2018 - 12:00am

In the high school I was enrolled in, there were two separate sessions to provide secondary education for both genders: Morning session was exclusively reserved for the girls while the afternoon session for the boys. “Never the twain shall meet.” Even the entrance and exit doors were in separate wings and were strictly monitored by the principal’s staff so there was no way the girls would come in contact with the boys. I graduated without meeting a single boy from the afternoon session until 40 years after, on our ruby anniversary, when we had grown too old to inflict any harm (or charm) on each other. I discovered that the boys were very much like us. With similar wants, ambitions and dreams, and a mind filled with memories of deeds and misdeeds that defined their character and made them what they are now.

One of my boy batch mates celebrated his 70th birthday and in a well-attended gathering, his 93-year-old mother stood up to speak about him. She spoke from memory and obviously from her heart because she shared his life story without pause and was plainly sincere and direct. His daughters and his in-laws did, too, plus colleagues and peers who gave him glowing marks and meant them most ardently.

When it was his turn to speak, I was struck by one moment of self-evaluation that he shared with us that got me thinking hard. He raised the question, “After leadership, what comes next?”  He didn’t wait for anyone to reply but gave the answer immediately: “eldership.”

Eldership happens without peal of trumpets and flare. It is the day-to-day, minute-to-minute decisions that you make. It comes spontaneously, too, out of a mind that is influenced by just one thought:  Is it good? Will it be for everyone’s benefit, welfare, safety, and well-being? If you are a parent, you reflect on what you want to teach and pass on to your children.  (Am I the role model that my children can draw inspiration from and, perhaps, imitate and pass on the lessons and the values, that I’ve been wanting them to apply in their lives and in their respective families?)  Mind you, it does not shield or protect you from upheavals, mistakes, conflicts, pain and trials, but if what is foremost in your mind is what is important in your heart, things will work out for the best. Always.

“Keep your family close,” he said. When everything is said and done, you will derive the most satisfaction and delight from having given them all the care and attention they so lovingly deserve.  No money, no plaques, no awards, no power and worldly recognition can top that.

When it comes to choices, what would you rather keep? The world at your feet or your family in your arms? One is short-lived, unpredictable, and precarious while the other grows stronger in every hold of affection you exchange.

Act and think with your heart in its place. This is the success formula that never fails. Another friend used as her motto, “The years teach much which days never know.” Experience you gather through time cannot be quantified as they happen. It is only when you look back that you’d be amazed by what the years have brought to you and for you. Did you love sincerely those people that came into your life as your treasures, your pride, and your miracles?

I had a chance to listen to Father Mario Subrejuanite, SSP, when he talked about the Sistine Chapel and its famous frescoes of the Creation of Adam, the Fall of Adam, and The Last Judgment by Michelangelo.  Did you know that the original paintings of Michelangelo, containing more than 300 figures, were painted in the nude?  These shocked and scandalized the church elders at that time so that when Michelangelo died, they commissioned several Italian masters to retouch the paintings so that everything that needs to be hidden, be kept hidden.

Michelangelo wanted to pass on a strong message in his paintings: That when we face God, we face him naked; just like we came to the world not wearing a stitch, we leave the world empty and bare. What matters to God is what you have kept in your heart.

Father Mario also shared his encounter in a private beach in the South. He was standing by the seashore when suddenly, he saw three men approaching him who were fully armed to the teeth. This gave Father Mario a fright. His host immediately appeased him and said, “Don’t worry Father, they’re all Moslems, but they come in peace, to protect us, in fact.” When he was introduced to the armed leader, the Moslem leader placed his arm on his chest before he placed it on the chest of Father Mario. Father Mario, now curious, asked, “What is the symbolism of putting your arm on your chest before placing it to my chest?” The Moslem head explained, “It means, ‘the God in me greets the God in you.”

“Do you find it difficult and are hard and tight in giving?” asked Father Mario. Remember that when you open your hand to share, donate or give alms, it also means that you open your hand to receive new blessings from God. God cannot be outdone in His generosity. “Before you think of receiving blessings, first, be a blessing yourself,” Father Mario concluded.

Have a blessed 2018, one and all!

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