Spiritual intelligence and family life

To find meaning in a life that unfolds in everyday life is a task that spiritual intelligence can fulfill to the full

With spiritual intelligence, a person does not stop at the knowledge of things and how they work, nor does he or she meditate on or clear up the unknowns of their composition. With spiritual intelligence, one discovers the value of life as a gift and as a project that unfolds in the various environments in which it unfolds. Discovering the value of one’s own vital network is a sort of prerequisite for giving it meaning. If a particular existence is moved by a meaning, by a why, the interpersonal and territorial relationships that it establishes will participate and, in a certain way, will qualify or increase – confirming – the meaning that animates it.

The discovery of meaning does not configure a life in which the idyllic, the majestic and the intense are its characteristics, nor does it expand by leaps and bounds, nor is it compelled to carry out epic or dazzling actions. Rather, its natural course is in step with the cadence of the day, the usual and the ordinary. It unfolds in the style of a bougainvillea that grows slowly and gradually, fixed to guides it expands, covering and beautifying a given area. The person – on the other hand – is oriented by temporality, territoriality and its needy condition.

Temporality preaches not only that man is born and dies, but that he develops in and with time. He cannot actualise the past, he can think of himself as being in the future, but his realisation is forged in the present. The most sublime human manifestations are properly shown in instants. Is a smile fleeting? If it were frozen on a face, would it say the same? A gesture is ephemeral, its message is experienced as a memory that can be brought back to the present; it can also be thought of as a promise. For an adult, time is sequential. A child, on the other hand, does not measure it. He values and enjoys it with such intensity that he seems to be able to take over the intervals that may exist between seconds. The child fills the present. When the mother opens herself to the child’s present, a temporal intersection is possible, and this happens when she holds the child in her arms. This is the moment when both overcome, even the intensity and movement of time. The mother gives him a kiss on the cheek, for the son the kiss is not only a gesture. It is the crown that makes him the centre of her worries and joys. For the child, his mother is undivided, and his intuition is so strong that he knows that the simple is more perfect than that which has parts! The child grasps perfectly the essence of what surrounds him: his mother is unique and, to her, he addresses himself without restrictions or forms that mediate their radically personal relationship.

In territoriality, man is not a permanent nomad, nor does he spread out in the open. He is a settled being who grows and develops in a space, in a defined and delimited environment. In fact, relationships, interpersonal and inter-subjective exchanges are more intense, intimate and capillary to the extent that in the same territory one habitually lives with others or encounters them repeatedly. Actions, operations, gestures and personal feelings are received and welcomed insofar as they are concretised and expressed at a specific time and place. Thought affection remains good intentions; expressed affection is reciprocated.

Today – to force a comparison – the qualification of tourist is not exclusively for those who like to change landscapes, to experience cultural diversity beyond the borders of their locality, region or country. Rather, it has become a kind of modal behaviour. Taking to the streets has become commonplace, not in the sense of protest but as a means of enjoyment, of being-with-others, of doing the same thing, but without connection or links. Even so, people prefer to be overwhelmed by the intensity, variety and frenzy of mass public offerings, rather than staying at home, enjoying the beauty of the simple things in life; the truth of the worth of those who live there; the goodness of the acts offered out of love; and the unity found in the customs and values that underpin the family project. Dumbfoundedness wants to displace dialogue, individualism tries to denigrate the “you” and the complete and supportive cooperation between people, as much as indifference wants to annul the dignity of the person.

Man needs to be rooted, to return to his roots. It is true that taking possession of the street does not indicate belonging; it means being out in the open, unprotected and alone. That is why people return home, which is the only place to return to – in Rafael Alvira’s brilliant affirmation – because it is the place where personal stories are kept, where one finds protection, security and where the person receives and gives freely; it is also the place of small but great achievements for the good of the loved one.

Finally, man is a being in need of affection, of food, of protection, of culture, of belonging and of affirming his identity. In need of tenderness that confirms him in his individuality and protects him from loneliness. He discovers that man’s greatness is based on his extreme parsimony when he is born and on his urgent need to be loved and protected. Tenderness is fundamentally forgetfulness of haste, it is time suspended, it is waiting for what? For the emergence and manifestation of the inner and peculiar greatness of the “other”, its hatching fulfils the one who receives it, therefore, in return, with the caress, he is welcomed and treated with infinite delicacy.

Among living beings, man is the one who learns to fend for himself the latest. His helpless, weak condition becomes strength, because during this precious time he is treated and learns to be a person. The human being is biographical and cultural from the beginning, since it is unfinished and therefore unviable, and only becomes existentially viable with the help of others ([1]) It is the mother who first pours her humanity into the child. The effective time that she devotes to her child is notorious and exclusive. The human being needs to be recognised as a person and this can only be achieved in intimacy. What is intimate is what is unique, what makes one unique, what ultimately confers the stamp of unrepeatability and peculiarity. Intimacy, in order to discover, know and communicate with each other, requires an environment in which there is understanding, love without claiming merit, and where one can experience that one is important because one perceives unequivocally – through words and/or gestures – “what a joy that you are with us” “I rejoice in your life and that you are growing up among us”. This sphere is the family, the person’s family.

Therefore, finding meaning in everyday life is a task that spiritual intelligence can fulfil to the full, starting with the practical willingness to ask oneself about the meaning of things, from studies at school, the family of blood, friends in the neighbourhood, illness, differences, the weaknesses of others that affect us, dreams and efforts.


[1] Ballesteros, J, Aparisi A, (ed.) Biotecnología, dignidad y derecho: bases para un dialogo, EUNSA, Pamplona, 2004, p. 165.