Friday, 25 May 2012

To Dream the Impossible Dream: Being Real

By Santiago Rodriguez, S.J.

Quixote House
I have been in Winnipeg, Manitoba throughout the past week, meeting with the Jesuit community and giving a couple of presentations on our Christian commitment in relation to the ecological crisis. I am staying at Quixote House, a community comprised of Jesuits and recent parolees from Stony Mountain Penitentiary.

One of the things I appreciate about staying in this house is that all of the residents are very aware of their own brokenness. Within hours of my arrival, it became evident that I would not be able to show myself as superior to them. The men of this house are constantly attending AA, NA and Next Steps meetings (some have even attempted to attend 90 meetings in 90 days). This reminded me of two principles that have been incredibly important in my life.

First, I am a sinner, but a forgiven sinner. I am where I am right now only by the grace of God. Who am I to judge others because of their past? Let the one who is without sin cast the first stone (John 8:7). 

Second, we are all in need of a community or group that supports us and helps us to strive for change; we need someone to listen to and accept us as we are.

Being at Quixote House, I am reminded about the need to always be real: to cast away all masks, to recognize my own brokenness. I can support those around me who are in need only when I come as I am without pretences. Men and women of our age are seeking authentic friendships. We are constantly disillusioned with the comfort of illusions. Being real is the real problem.

Don Quixote was the type of person who saw beyond appearances and was able to find the beauty of every single person he met. In the musical Man of La Mancha, Don Quixote sings about “The Impossible Dream” in response to the meaning of his quest. He knows that the quest is all about dedication to virtue and to those who want to strive for it. In the song, Don Quixote says:

To dream the impossible dream
[...]
To right the unrightable wrong
To love pure and chaste from afar
To try when your arms are too weary
To reach the unreachable star

This is my quest
To follow that star
No matter how hopeless
No matter how far

And the world will be better for this
That one man, scorned and covered with scars
Still strove with his last ounce of courage
To reach the unreachable star

The dream of Don Quixote is the dream of the men living in this house: to create a community that helps them to live virtuously; to follow the star and to travel no matter how far it takes to support one another; to strive with the last ounce of courage. In order to do such things, we need to be honest with ourselves and be real. In accepting ourselves as we are, we learn to accept others. Then, when our arms are too weary to keep going, those around us will lift us up and we will be able to reach the unreachable star. These men are my brothers in that quest, and I am only as strong as my ability to fully accept my brokenness, in journeying with them to make a better world.

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