Monday, July 15, 2013

I am the Happiest Person in the World

In a diocesan bulletin, a priest writes that he made a trip to Panama, Central America, early this year because he read it was the happiest country in the world. After the visit, he said he could now be considered one of the happiest persons in the world, after meeting the "happiest people in the world."

The index used for determining happiness in this case he learned has nothing to do with possessions or finances. This realization brought to mind a poem by Sister Hae-in Lee- A Happy Face. (She has been struggling with cancer for many years.)

"Because I say I am having difficulty doesn't mean I am not happy. And because I say I am happy doesn't mean that I am not in pain, for sure. When I open wide my heart happiness comes with a  thousand faces--no, it comes with numberless faces, and I'm able to experience the joy of happiness. Where it hides I don't know, but with beautiful wings, furtively, the happiness appears. I am playing hide and seek with it as it pulls at my  heart strings, and today I am again happy." Poor as the translation must be, the meaning is clear: no matter the circumstances, happiness can be found.

The key to happiness, the poet is saying, is to open wide the door to our hearts.  When that is done the eyes naturally open and our thinking changes, and we can see the world and ourselves differently. I can then cry out truly, the priest writes, "I am the happiest priest in the world!" Just as we all can cry out, he says, "I am the happiest person in the world!"

However, there are many people who have closed the doors to their hearts. Our 'apartment culture', which tends to move us toward individualism and egotism, is influencing us, beginning, he says, by living with the doors to our homes being locked. When our doors are locked, our hearts also tend to get locked, he says. This is one of the reasons that many do not want people to come to their homes, and a reason there is so much difficulty in building small Christian communities. Helping to break this down is one reason we use parishioner's homes to hold small community meetings.  When we refuse to have others come to our house, we are refusing Jesus, he says. 

Christianity is a religion of revelation. In Korean, 'revelation' means open and seen. God so loved us that he opened himself to us; he gave us all of himself. This is what he wants from us. Our life, likewise, following God's example, should be open.  We don't want to refuse him entrance and have him "go to the stable."

If we open the doors to our homes we will be opening our hearts and opening ourselves to happiness. We will begin to live, the Church will begin to live, and the world will live. Happiness will be the natural result, and all of us will be able to cry out, 'I am the happiest person in the world'.

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