This imaginary interview is intended to convey that life and its meaning is subject to a never-ending process of change, and that we as humans have a sacred duty to decipher this dynamic puzzle and to play our roles with all the joy and seriousness we can muster.
Reporter: Pastor Ion Buciuman, you have been in retirement for some time. What is life like when you look at it now?
Ion Buciuman: In old age, life is as valuable as in any other moment. It is a gift from God that we must manage with passion, care, and responsibility. Nothing and no one should distract us from this basic duty. While heredity sets our course to a great extent, personal choices, decisions, and actions have enough influence to cause us to take up the role of faithful and wise stewards of our own lives very seriously. The changes we are called to make are the difference between life and death.
Have you always had this vision of the essence of life?
No! Life is like a river, it is in a perpetual motion, transformation, and action. Ideas about it change over time, but personal life must always remain a source of freshness and development for others.
If you were to choose a natural element, which of them would you identify with the most?
Some of the things that charmed me as a child were springs of water. To me, a spring conveys the impression and the idea of purity, generosity, service, freshness, integration, inspiration, comfort, safety, permanence, connection, and disconnection. One of the characteristics of a spring that impressed me as a child is their need to be cared for and defended.
How about man-made things? What object would you identify with?
A long time ago I chose the clay pot, which my mother used when preparing baked goodies, as a symbol for myself. Every household has its clean dishes and its unclean dishes. This rating does not depend on the state of cleanliness, but on how you use it. The clay pot from my mother’s kitchen was called “clean”, even if it sometimes had leftover food, while a pot used for non-food purposes, even if it was washed, was still called “unclean” and could not be used to cook or store food. Being heated up—almost set on fire—to feed others seems to me an extraordinary image to illustrate serving one’s fellow man, with the risk of enduring thermal and physical demands in order to fulfil this mission.
Speaking of ‘mission’, how have you understood the notion of mission and how do you understand it now? How would you express your current mission statement?
Those close to my family used to call me “Missionary Man” and I think they were entitled to say something like this about me. However, they said this with a certain pain and irony. What I did not understand then was that service to God and people begins with the family, with those in my house. A definition of my personal mission, developed over time, might sound like a few words: “My mission is to grow in the joy of serving God and serving others.” But for a long time, I did not understand that those closest to me were family members.
Do you mean you have regrets when it comes to your attitude towards your mission?
Yes! I am sorry now that I have not been paying more attention and have not been sensitive enough to the needs of my family, and I have not sought to better integrate its interests into the picture of personal mission. I think that’s where my nickname came from.
Is there anything else you blame yourself for, after forty years of public service?
There are several things I blame myself for. One of them has to do with how I related to the needs, sensibilities and pains of people, especially those who were trespassing morally. I think that, many times, I should have shown more compassion and understanding towards people suffering in different ways. I am convinced that we are seriously wrong when we strive to explicitly and publicly set ourselves apart from people who might bring disgrace to the church. We could specify our official position, but take the risk of sitting next to the weak, fallen, or guilty. This is what the Master did, and we betray Him by acting harshly and with contempt for those for whom He died.
Your life and ministry experience allows you to shape a series of important ideas or lessons about the world and life. Could you list some of your most important ones?
I used to think of expressing a kind of numbered creed, but I still haven’t done anything concrete. I will now list a few things at random:
God, love and truth are too great for our limited minds. We must be content with simple personal opinions that we can state with modesty and caution.
People are very different from each other, and this can be a source of pain, but also of delight. Pain can be aroused quickly, but delight requires effort and wisdom.
The most important component of success in a partnership with someone is compatibility. It cannot be drawn by chance and is not done by chance. Only those who seek it can find it.
Life can give us much more joy and satisfaction than we usually get. In order to have more accomplishments, we need to manage our lives better.
Spirituality is not measured in the number of prohibitions we might observe, but in the degree of our Christlike resemblance, in spirit and deeds.
Our calculations about the future will surely be erroneous and outdated over time, so we owe it to ourselves to continually develop our vision, and be willing to reformulate our faith.
The wait for Christ’s return is not a detachment from the tumult of daily life, but a feverish and intensive preparation, with your eyes fixed on the eastern edge of the sky.