The Illusion of Hiding Away in Daylight

March 2015 / Young Missionaries of the Holy Father - Los Angeles Ca.


We see with the eyes, walk with our feet, and strum with our hands. But in the case of Tony Melendez, who was born without arms, we may think otherwise. He is a man who was born without arms. Being from Nicaragua and having grown up poor in Chino, California, he faced many challenges throughout his life. One can only imagine the hardships endured by such a persistent man; as well as the wisdom he may carry from his sufferings. Melendez obviously cannot play the guitar with his hands, so he uses his feet. This began as a mild experiment in his childhood, but his father insisted that he would play the guitar. He now sings professionally and has even performed for Pope John Paul II, where the Holy Father gave him a kiss on the cheek. It really makes someone like myself (with a conventional body) think, what can I accomplish? As it is clear that Melendez must have huge determination to overcome his physical restrictions, he encourages other to follow their dreams and spread the glory of God throughout the world. He points out how many feel like they need a miracle to accomplish what they wish to, but he also points out how every individual person is, indeed, a miracle. When my family and I had attended his concert in Chino, CA, he demonstrated sole appreciation through his eyes: “Lift up your hands in the air and wave them like you just don’t care. Don’t you see? That is a miracle.”

Because “hope” and all the other morals of “chasing your dreams,” and “you can do it” is so present in the story of Tony Melendez, I found my spoiled self easily looking over it. Instead, I was trying to figure out what made this armless man so different, because it wasn’t his armless- ness. It took me an entire five days after his concert, in an unused room of our house, to make sense of what came to my mind. I had to sit down and think for twenty minutes, take a long nap, and then sit a bit more for it to hit me. As it turns out the answer was literally surrounding me, protecting me. See, oddly enough, most of us humans hide ourselves in broad daylight so to speak. When our body is high (luxury endowed), our spirit gets low (sin). Therefore when instant gratification is hardwired into our brain, and we expect all of our desires to be fulfilled at once, we literally cannot appreciate life. 

It is a natural, flesh-tending fetish for man to want better for himself. Our implemented greed ravishes the innocent soul right out our body, leaving a valley of emptiness that cannot be fulfilled by anything else. The key to keep our soul alive and healthy is to keep our bodies down a bit. This is the most important intent during Lent season. Suffer a bit. Take a cold shower, turn off the TV and read a book, or skip a meal or two. When we don’t have instant gratification, we have patience. When we have patience, we have that saint-like quality of gratitude. This is what made Tony Melendez special. It was like this humble trait supplemented for his armless-ness when he was born.

Too many a time, folks will smile at their “well-being” as if that is the key to happiness. They will give themselves a great big pat on the back for “working hard” or “doing what they’re supposed to do” when what they are actually doing is dipping themselves into the life of security. We hide away in broad daylight: that humans will be belligerent to keep the norm and safety in their lives. When someone points out our secular holding, we feel like it is an exposure of our mortality, and therefore must act aggressively to pretend control of ourselves. How many times do we feel like we can make our children do what we want? Or protect ourselves against disease, or any other fatal incident? Control is an illusion. We have no control over what happens TO us, BUT we have the free will to decide what we DO.

The key is to sacrifice your sense of security for a total surrender to God. Only something as eternal as He will finish our constructing lives. Only when you abide to God, will you be able to give to others in a similar fashion. The pattern used to make instant gratification, or security, is the same pattern we must use to have self imply other. This humbling of ourselves will not present an irrefutable feeling that we will live to go another day, but as our life implies death, it will present the bright side of life. When do we start? How do we do it? Undergo a radical change and get up and start now, just do it.

Apropos

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Mario Zarate

Young Missionaries of the Holy Father

 

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