In ancient Greek mythology lived a hunter from Thespiae in Boeotia called Narkissos (Narcissus in English). He was of such a great beauty incomprehensible to mortal perception. Practically so, as Tzetzes relates, he rejected all romantic advances, for he was so in love with his own beauty. As Caravaggio depicts in his classic canvas, Narcissus died gazing fondly at his own reflection in a river.
So today, the noun ‘narcissism’ has come to mean, from Narcissus, a fixation with oneself. This definition gotten right, will imply a personality disorder, a condition marked by grandiosity, excessive need for admiration, and an inability to show empathy. Legend has it that, a flower sprouted from the place of his death of which Pliny the Elder wrote ‘narkao’ (I grow numb).
Like Narcissus, we most often than not are materially attached with our own self. True, it is, we toil for the bread we eat. Another truth, so forth, is life cannot be bought. Merely a century ago, there was the disparity between Mother Theresa’s world and Adolf Hitler’s world; one was full of love the other hatred. Same is unsayable about today. There are no white or black, there are only grey, no truth or lies, only conditions. The rudimentary condition is that, we always consider the ‘I’ in the Isle first. The nursery rhyme echoes the antithesis and says ‘no man is an Island’. If you were in lent, love, for neighbour, would have led you.
Like Narcissus, all of us have that one thing uniquely ours, even if we don’t realise it. For this reason, we highlight it to the zenith and accentuate our id to the acme. It is not wrong to develop your charism and use it for the common good. Whatever it is we have, we were given. These Charisms are real beauty if not used for vainglory but for love. If you had forty days to pause for a while, take a detour and fix your own personality disorder, what will that be? Greed, Sexual pervasion and disorientation, an addiction or sloth?
Just as you can’t wake up, he who isn’t asleep, same way you can’t make the person who is upright stand. ‘Only when I fall, do I get up’ has the saintly mark. Anna Frank said ‘No one has ever become poor by giving’. If you have your hands closed, there is no way you can receive anything with those hands. Fast, Pray and offer Alms, there are no better prescription of this season. Yet, you do not give because of mere ostentation, you give so that, you become alter Christus to others. You can’t be a better Christian, if not by reflecting Christ. A Churchman once wrote that, ‘the highest form of flattery is imitation’.
Sometimes, dear friends, our own silence is deafening. We have had enough to energize ourselves with on the dashboard of life. We hardly have time looking deep into ourselves. If we did, we would have realised that there a lot of extraneous materials we will let go. Forty days it is to forego and so to foresave. Lent gives us the opportunity to fix our own personality disorder. It is a period to be with St. Alphonsus Liguori at the same page and say, ‘I cannot live unless to prove some love for such an unmeasured love’.
Your life is best expressed in the smiles of others. Live within these lines this season, ‘Love is a promise, love is a souvenir, once given never forgotten, never let it disappear’.
Let’s all have a challenging Lenten season and a blissful Easter to hope for.