Poverty In Spirit, Wealth Of Life (Part 2)

by Patrick Liew on July 30, 2012

This was one face off that I would never forget for the rest of my life. It was not a normal face off but one that was between a father and his son.

I know that scene well because it was between Papa and me. It was held in his bedroom one evening in 1973.

That evening, Papa had called me in to see him. It was a meeting that I had dreaded and one that Papa held with every child in my family upon their sixteenth birthday.

Papa had sat me down on his bed. He then pulled a chair and sat facing me.

I could see him consciously trying to stay calm and collecting his thoughts. Our eyes met but none of us wanted to start the conversation.

In my mind, I thought I knew what Papa was about to say to me. My brother who was two years older than me had prepare me for this day.

Papa would repeat the same message he made to my elder siblings. It went somewhat like this,

“You know, Papa has worked very hard to help provide more than ten years of education to you.

“It is getting harder and harder to look after the family and to support you in your studies. I hope that you will do well in your final exams.

“I may still be able to provide for your pre-university education but thereafter, you will be on your own. I cannot afford to help you complete your tertiary education.

“You need to go and look for a job and support yourself.”

That evening, the conversation went completely different. Papa had changed his usual script and had quite clearly took awhile to prepare for the new one.

That experience was another turning point in my life. It not only made me respect Papa more deeply but also appreciate more strongly the value of education.

Papa had taken a deep breath. He swallowed remnants of saliva in his mouth and then, he held my hands so very gently.

This was what he told me.

“You know, Papa has worked very hard to help provide more than ten years of education to you and your brothers.

“It is getting harder and harder to look after the family and to support you in your studies. I hope that you will do well in your final exams.

“I will help support you to complete your pre-university education.”

He paused for a moment and looked into my eyes. It was as if he wanted to speak right through to my heart.

Then, he continued, “I have always wanted one of my children to complete a tertiary education.

“I want you to do it.”

When I looked surprised, he must have misinterpreted my expression to be one of sceptism.

He quickly tried to justify his proposal. He told me, “I will work very hard. If need be, I’ll take on a second job so that I can earn enough money to support you.”

When I reflected on that life-changing moment, I realized poverty was not measured in just financial terms. There was more to wealth than having money and other material possessions.

That evening, I felt enriched by the love, care and concern that my parents had shown to me.

I might not have a lot in life but whatever I had was enough for me to pursue and realize my dreams.

Far worst than poverty in financial terms is a poverty of love.

When we cannot love and feel loved, our lack of love will drive us to to a life of loneliness, desolation and abandonment. These are some of the shifting sands on the way down the pits of life.

The true mark of poverty is a poverty of compassion and kindness for our fellow humans. When we feel we deserve to live well without due regard for others or worse, at the expense of others, our spirit will live in the slums of life.

We will search endlessly in the rubbish bins of life for the next meaningless and short-term fulfillment. Some day, we will echo the words of the Sage in the book of Ecclesiastes, Meaningless, meaningless, all is meaningless (Ecc 1:2).

Poverty becomes permanent when there is a poverty of wisdom. When we stop learning and more importantly, stop applying these lessons for the benefit of the people around us, we bury ourselves in the highway of life.

We leave our mind to redundancy in the heat of changes. It will rot when we don’t respond to the chilly winds of challenges that are looking for a solution from us.

No poverty sucks more energy from us than the poverty of humour. When we cannot see and enjoy the fun side of life, we gradually deplete the energy within us. The energy that sustains us and helps us pursue a better destination on the journey of life.

The lack of anything may not make us poorer than the lack of contentment. When we cry over what we have lost rather than being thankful for what we have left, we imprison ourselves in the cell of poverty.

When we are not grateful for and appreciative of what we have and we pursue relentless for more and more in life, we are like throwing away a key that can free us from a prison of  life.

A poor bank account cannot hold us back more than a poverty of desire, determination and discipline.

In fact, an empty wallet very often  is a compelling motivation to fill our  life with goodness from our Creator.

I hope this message will find a place in your heart.

By the way, I have also recorded other reflections.

Visit my Inspiration blog at http://liewinspiration.wordpress.com/

Visit my Transformation blog at http://hsrpatrickliew.wordpress.com/

Please read them and continue to teach me.

Life is FUNtastic!


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