Describe a positive image involving sexuality and its source (where or how did you get this idea?)
My first positive image involving sexuality was the direct result of the confidences of a close friend. I still remember the feeling of awe and wonder that her description aroused in me even though I was really experiencing the sensation vicariously. We must have been no more than around eleven or twelve years old and like all girls at that stage in life were prone to talking about boys, love, and sex, though we really had little understanding of either the relationships involved or its physical manifestations. Frankly speaking, until that particular conversation, the images we had of sex and sexuality were more in the realm of the forbidden and therefore sinful though like all other human beings, we were very aware of the changes in our physical body, and our changing awareness, even sensitization to the opposite sex. The positive image my friend shared with me is important because it constituted a major perceptual change in my view of sexuality. She described a moment in time where she walked into her parent's bedroom inadvertently to find her mother sitting in front of her dressing mirror. She had obviously just emerged from her bath judging by the fact that the only garment she wore was a towel wrapped around her body with a second one adorning her head turban style. Her father was standing behind her mother, bending over her with his hands on her shoulders, stroking her bare skin. The fact is my friend had previously been witness to many such similar actions of physical intimacy between her parents. This particular moment, however, made a deep impression on my friend and subsequently myself because of the physical awareness and emotional connection that she saw transmitting between her parents, which was clearly reflected in the mirror facing them. What did she see? She saw her parents' eyes connecting in the mirror, and in both pairs of eyes, she could see the wealth of a range of emotions, from love and tenderness to sexual arousal and an awareness of the deep physical intimacies to follow. Most important, she saw and described a moment where two souls had connected emotionally though the words used are hard to describe something that can only be understood experientially.
Write what insights, feelings, and judgments this positive image invokes within you?
The most important insight offered by the above-described image of sexuality is the fact that sexuality goes beyond the mere joining of two human bodies. True sexuality is more about a state of connectedness between two souls beyond the physical plane. And that's the type of sexuality that any human being should look to cultivating. To realize this, however, an individual needs to understand that the power of sexuality lies in an individual's capacity to love and feel passionately about sharing that emotion with another. Thus, sexuality really is intimacy between two individuals in its ultimate and fullest form, as it is a medium to give and receive mutual and equal pleasure. In my judgment, therefore, sexuality that is devoid of intimacy is hedonistic and self-indulgent. Further, I believe that self-absorption usually leads to an individual's sexuality failing to satisfy his or her partner, either physically or emotionally.
Describe a negative image involving sexuality and its source.
Every time I watch a TV report or read a newspaper article on a woman being raped or worse, a child being sexually abused, the images involving sexuality thus evoked are highly negative and distasteful.
Write what insights, feelings, and judgments this negative image evokes within you.
The negative images of a helpless and perhaps emotionally as well as physically weaker human being, be it man, woman, or child, being exploited for sexual satisfaction reveals that sexuality can indeed lead to perverse and sinful acts. The sin lies in not just physical abuse and violence, but in the violation of a person's soul and spirit. Thinking of such acts evokes a feeling of outrage that human beings can actually stoop to such low levels purely for the sake of the physical release of the sexual act, or because rape and sexual abuse affords them a feeling of power which they otherwise cannot obtain. Indeed, such manifestations of human sexuality evokes the feeling that in some respects or in the case of some people, the human spirit has not risen much above basic animal instincts. In fact, examining the negative side of human sexuality leads to an understanding as to why social institutions such as marriage, family and religion are required to control an aspect of human nature, which could negatively affect human civilization and progress if left to run rampant. Thus, in my judgment, the development of human sexuality, whether for purposes of human bonding and intimacy or procreation, should be carefully guided by social and religious values and teachings.
Which of the two "experiences" seem to come closer to representing Christianity's contribution to your own current appreciation of sexuality? Why?
The negative images discussed earlier come closer to Christianity's contributions to my current appreciation of sexuality. This is because the primary inference in Christianity's teachings is that sexuality and spirituality are contrary forces, and that the former impulse needs to be controlled and conquered for an individual's spiritual development. This is implicit in Christianity's belief that sexuality led to The Original Sin.
Does your judgment affect the way in which you strive to lead your life sexually? How so?
Certainly, my judgment concerning sexuality affects the way I conduct my life. Given my view that true sexuality is a deep and abiding intimacy between two human beings, I naturally would never dream of indulging in casual liaisons. For me, my body is an extension of my spirit and to that extent, it is my spirit that dictates my biological or sexual drives.
Section B - Paschal's Mystery and Life Passages
Carefully consider the last five years of your life. Where have you been and what have you been doing - work, school, friends, changes - during these years? Select a specific change or transition that stands out in this period and describe it.
The last five years of my life has been dominated by my studying to achieve my goal of building a career in the field of medicine. Since the practice of medicine, I believe, is not just a career but my vocation and calling in life, it has meant devoting a great deal of time and effort, which has involved no small amount of personal sacrifice. The single biggest change that my dedication to my field of study and work has wrought is the sacrifice of many a close friendship, especially in the last couple of years. But of all the changes that have taken place in the last few years, the one that really cost me a great deal on a personal level is the loss of my closest friend and confidante who could not come to terms with the fact that I simply did not have the kind of time I once used to have to spend with her or support her through the usual ups and downs of everyone's lives.
Does this transition carry some signs of a passage, that is, did this change entail losing or letting go of something? What did you have to let go of?
The change in life direction that I consciously took did entail a passage for me, personally as well. I had to decide between retaining the leisure and fun times with my friends that I so enjoyed and loved and the demands of my chosen career. In particular, I had to choose to consciously let go of my one close friend when I was simply unable to accommodate her demands for my time. This was not easy for me to do since I, too, was used to the comfort of her support literally on a daily basis.
Was there a period of ambiguity when you were unsure where this change was leading? How long did the ambiguity last?
Of course, the decision to let go of the friendship in question involved a great deal of personal conflict and ambiguity. The conflict was due to my personal ideals and value system concerning commitment and loyalty to deep friendships. Until this point in life, I had always believed that I was the kind of person who would enjoy undying and life long relationships. Life bringing me to a passage where I had to choose between my vocation and the demands of a friend of my personal time proved to me otherwise. Further, till such time that I reached an understanding of what I now know to be a universal truth, I had to go through a six-month period of ambiguity where I was torn between my own personal needs, the needs of a dear friend, and the demands of my chosen profession and field of study. That…