The strength of the human character, that indomitable spirit nestled in these cages of flesh and bone we call our bodies, is a force that eludes our conventional senses. In spite of its power, it is something that remains surprisingly well-hidden in a great many people, its potential for transformation left dormant and idle. But on those occasions when this force does arise, the sensations are simply overwhelming.
It takes many forms but at its core elicits essentially the same response from every human being: it prompts us to open our eyes and behold the world with clearer spectacles and, with a bit of luck, prompt the newfound vision towards action. In this particular case, the author was prompted by “a compulsion of the heart” to write and give his memories shape so that others may know the story—and to remind those who read his account that there are still stories out there that need to be told, to restore our faith in our shared humanity.
What is at the center of the story here then? Where was the calidad humana? It was in Lazaro’s grin, his humble stature, his quiet grace; in the vigor in his eyes and the deepness of his wrinkles; in the rags he wore and the worn-out notebook he carried with him. It was echoed in his voice, mirrored in his tears, etched into that piece of paper in which he wrote his eulogy. It was in the genuineness of his smile and the reflection of the sunlight on his face that I beheld the depth of his human spirit, and in his verses I beheld the beauty of his soul.
In sum, Lazaro’s humanity was perfected in his sublime comprehension of what it must truly mean to live in devotion. In him I discovered—or rather, “rediscovered”—the essence of calidad humana: it is the strength that arises from deprivation, the hope that arises from misery, the love that arises from grief, the beauty that arises from despair. It is the quality of supreme grace.
© Copyright 2017 Jan Gabriel. All rights reserved.
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