I’m usually uncontrollably humorous in my posts. It’s generally something I can’t help; it’s a blessing and a curse. This week, I’ve been contemplative. What? (I’m sure it won’t last long.)
I’ve been coaching this amazing young woman and after nine months of tutelage, she is ready to fly the nest to pursue her dreams. She will succeed, of that I have no doubt. She is a deep thinker (a little too much so) and we began a conversation about which of the many virtues was more important for a happy successful life. Good question.
Obviously the top four virtues are faith, hope, charity and love. I’m thinking that perhaps I could survive in this world without love and faith and maybe make it through without charity. But I’m not at all convinced I could make it through the day without hope.
Where would we be if we couldn’t hold on to the hope that our marriage will get better, that our sickness will heal, that a job will be found or that a child will be safe?
Hope seems to stave away fear. Who doesn’t want less fear?
It’s strange to say that hope is so strong, but I think that it is. When it has been absent in my life I have felt helpless and drifting. Hope is the key to the knowledge that tomorrow just might be better. I definitely could not do without hope.
My gut response was Love. But love feels more like a grace to me, one I pray I will always be blessed to have. They say that love makes the world go around, but if that were true, our world wouldn’t be so ravaged by war and savagery. Love has its place but it is also fickle and does not share itself with everyone. I believe in love but I’m not sure I can depend on it.
Faith is known as the strongest of all virtues. I’m not sure we could be without faith if we tried. Whatever it is that you believe in; faith in your God, your spouse, your family, your parents, yourself, it is all so deeply instilled in our inner being, as if it was given to us with our very soul.
Charity is touted as the most congenial of virtues. Not everyone possesses it. Too bad. I’m not talking about the kind of charity where we donate our money. I’m talking about the charity we live everyday by giving to our family, co-workers, friends, relatives. Charity is help; and it is part of our daily fiber to help those we care about, those we love and those who matter. A kind gesture, a reassuring word, a trust bestowed, it’s all charity. It is a blessed virtue but I doubt it is the most indispensable.
My answer is none of the above. For me the greatest virtue is purpose. Those times in my life when I lacked it, were probably the darkest times I’ve known. I am also happiest when I know exactly what my purpose is. I think that’s why we mothers have such a hard time when our children leave home. They were our purpose for so long and when they leave, we are left to flounder until we find another. When my 27 year marriage ended I no longer had the purpose of being a Mrs. Somebody. And when my father died, my purpose of being a daughter vanished. Purpose has a lot of power and the lack of it can destroy us.
Trying to select a most valuable virtue is like trying to answer the question of which force of nature is more powerful; earth, wind, fire or water. I never could answer that one.
There are so many virtues to choose from; prudence, courage (one of my favs), temperance, fortitude, justice, and of course, grace. I’ve always wanted to think of myself as having grace. I’m still working on it.
With all the virtues at hand, I can only wonder why we don’t use more of them all the time. Life is hard and full of disappointments, setbacks and crossroads. Decisions every day call upon us to make them and our hesitation often comes from not possessing enough virtue to do so.
Life without virtue is a life less lived and far less worth. And so it is often asked: what will you do with this, your magnificently wonderful life?
I shout my answer: I’m giving it my best shot. I choose a life of virtue, the courage to stand by it, the kindness to share it and the daring to live it.
That’s my plan. Perhaps with a little grace a lot of courage, a dash of temperance and a good deal of prudence … I just might make it.
I have hope that I will.