Monday, August 30, 2010

What Gives One Strength To Keep Searching for the Oasis

He never saw an oasis except in pictures and paintings, but from the time he was a child, they always fascinated him. Now, writing for the Catholic Times, he reflects on what the oasis might mean to a traveler in the desert who is looking for a place to rest and quench his thirst. 

He compares finding this resting place to what a traveler on the ocean must feel when seeing seagulls and the beacon from  a light tower. Depending on the condition of the traveler, mirages in the desert can often deceive the exhausted traveler.  Seeing or not seeing an oasis is the difference, the writer believes, between life and death, hope and despair, reality and dream.

A student with cerebral palsy, a graduate from Seoul National University, is mentioned by the writer to explain how an "oasis mirage" can be applied to many of our everyday problems.  Here was a man who was looking for an oasis, but for many years it was a mirage. He dreamed of getting a good job but with his physical condition the difficulties were great. After five years of mirage-like searching, he finally did get accepted by a  big corporation, with no preferences given to him because of his condition; more than 60 others had competed for the job. Only he knows the difficulties he had with school, finally graduating and finding a job. Above all, he did not despair.

Despair, Kierkegaard said, is a disease that brings death. Many different opportunities are available to us provided we do not despair. Even when wandering in a seeming desert of hopelessness, if we reject this mirage, an oasis will appear.

On the 18th of this month, the grandson of one of the biggest industrialists in Korea killed himself. The grandson was living by himself in a rented apartment and buying goods in the neighborhood on credit. After the suicide, there were no preparations for a funeral, no room set aside for his picture and for meeting family and guests. The body was kept in the mortuary until it was taken by the family to a crematoria for a private ceremony. Even this family, with its  resources was not able to help a family member that very much needed help. Where was the mirage here?  Was it with the grandson who was not able to express his need or not open enough to the help that was certainly offered? Or was it with the family that failed to persevere in providing the help that was needed? 

Life, it is said, is not always fair. We can talk about the oasis and the beacon but there are many who are not able to see them; they do not register or give any meaning-- one of the symptoms of the disease.  One of the hardest things to do is to ask another for help. This is one reason we stay mired in the difficulties, we get ourselves into; it closes many doors, often even shutting out the help that God  gives.  This is what makes this sickness,  so seemingly hopeless--until  we ask for help. With the help, many will arrive at their oasis.

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