Word Magazine January 1967 Page 13
THE PRIDE OF LIFE
By Father Vladimir Berzonsky
Holy Trinity Church, Parma, Ohio
“Do not love the world or the things in the world . . . For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and lust of the eyes and the PRIDE OF LIFE is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world passes away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” (I JOHN 2:15)
When we are young, we have an image of ourselves we hold in our mind’s eye. That picture is often an illusion; a fantasy that we don’t trouble ourselves to admit is nearly unattainable.
Whatever hardships we suffer, no matter what knocks life gives us, we feed on that vision, and nobody can take it from us. In our most bitter moments, when all is tumbling around us in the real world, we go off alone and convince ourselves that this will all pass, and we are really as we exist in our dream future.
Then, at one point in our mature years, on one special birthday of our lives, we find our lovely vision is gone. There is no longer a lifetime of hope before us. We admit to ourselves that this situation in which we now find ourselves is the one we shall live until our last days. There will be no vacations, and new homes, different automobiles, but the wild dreams and ambitions of our youth; the dream careers and romantic lives we imagined are gone with our fantasies.
This is a time for meditation, self-evaluation and adjustment. But many people refuse this critical stage of their lives. They become bitter and mean; they feel frustrated and cheated. Often they dream a second myth-dream. In the new dream they convince themselves that had they been given a “break,” or tied down the right deal, stayed in the service or married somebody else; (or perhaps not have married at all), then all in their first myth-dream would have been realized.
Daydreams are a refuge for the weak. They are buffers to reality, to shelter us from the facts of existence. Dreams are escape mechanisms, but we cannot hide from ourselves.
Not dreams, nor alcohol, nor amusements and parties will keep us from facing ourselves as we really are. Not only must we come to accept ourselves as we are, we must like what we see. If God loves us, we have no right to reject ourselves.
When this period of life comes, these people need God as they never had before. Up to this time, they themselves could build their own futures. Here is the meaning of “The Pride of Life.” Not God at all, although they may even have gone to church all their lives; but their myth-dream is at the center of their lives.
But when that dream vanishes, God is still there; ready to accept the one who is ready to shed all illusions and come to Him as his only True and Lasting Hope and Comfort.