Reverb13 Day 9: Inspirational People
Who inspired you in 2013? And why? What gifts did they give you? And how will you carry these forward in to 2014?
Inspiration is a tricky subject with me. I tend to be more inspired by events or even thoughts and ideas, than I am by individual people. I can have deep respect for someone’s situation, obstacles and achievements without feeling personally inspired by them. Their story, after all, is not my story. Though on some broad level I intellectually understand that such people can be examples of overcoming the odds, (if they can do it you can do it!) I tend to view such people as the one-legged man who scales Everest, or the woman who overcame her mental illness to become a published writer as circumstances isolated from my own.
Maybe I don’t look closely enough, or maybe I am just a colder, more shallow person. Or maybe this is just another manifestation of my unique, sometimes strange perception of life. I don’t know.
All of that being said, I do have at least a partial answer for this prompt, and it is a surprising one: Pope Francis.
I am not a Roman Catholic. I disagree with the church, (and by extension any Pope) in regards to many moral and social issues. But within that framework, this current Pope has said and done many things that have gotten my attention, and at times even touched me on a personal level.
His attention and prioritization of the poor. His refusal to demonize homosexuals even as he disagrees with them. His willingness to admonish the rampant excesses of capitalism. The fact that he still does not use the luxurious papal apartments, but rather lives in a simple hotel within the Vatican. These are perspectives not shared by many previous popes. At least not in as vocal a fashion as this pope.
So I admire, respect, and in some cases, deeply appreciate what Pope Francis is doing and saying.
But his viewpoints are not what inspires me per se. What I find inspiring, rather, is the deep conviction with which he not only expresses but lives his beliefs. The humility. The unflappability. And perhaps most of all, doing all of this in the face of a Vatican establishment, namely the Curia, that is not the most welcoming of his speeches and reforms, sometimes to the point of talking back the Pontiff’s comments the following day, so as not to allow him to appear too “different”.
I don’t know what goes on behind the closed doors of the Vatican. Nor can I sympathize with how it feels to believe in and cling to an infallible pope, as again I am not Catholic. But I can be inspired by acts of faith, charity and love. Though the possibility always exists that he could be for whatever reason faking all of it, I’m willing to take Pope Francis at face value, and be inspired by the man.
As for what gifts the man can give to me in 2013…his gifts to Catholics and the poor are of course of far greater significance. But I do think he serves as a reminder, and solid example of the importance and the power of knowing one’s convictions, and striving everyday to live them and share them, regardless of how inconvenient it may be to some. The courage of conscience, even if that conscience is not my own, contains a power that can sometimes transcend difference and circumstances. Doing the work one feels they were born to do in service to what they feel is right in this world. That’s the inspiration of Pope Francis, and others like him in this world. I will take these lessons with me into 2014 and beyond as I follow my own convictions in pursuit of service.