Every morning when I wake up I ask myself which way do I choose to live my life. I choose to live as if “everything is a miracle.” Miracles all the time everywhere. As Leo Tolstoy said, “If you want to be happy, be.” Not there at 100%, but getting better all the time. What about you?
These words reverberate in our increasingly polarized world of echo chambers. We accept and celebrate difference when it is for excelling in certain areas, such as sports and music. Then, when differences show up in areas, such as religion/spirituality/faith and politics, our respect for each other flies out of the window. Difference becomes unacceptable! Does this selectivity show we have forgotten our common humanity?
How about we change things. Let us look at difference in our lives like notes in a melody. Read what Saint Irenaeus of Lyons says:
If we focus on our common humanity like St. Irenaeus – and each other as brother and sister – how much easier it would be to use our differences to make beautiful music in this world.
Some additional thoughts. Pope Francis’s 2020 encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, on fraternity and social friendship, is a relatively easy to digest reflection on the divided state of affairs in our world today, what are some of the structural factors that have created this situation, and what we can do to change it. Do not be put off by the fact that it was written by the leader of the Roman Catholic faith. As Pope Francis says, “Although I have written it from the Christian convictions that inspire and sustain me, I have sought to make this reflection an invitation to dialogue among all people of good will.”
There is also something easy that we can do many times of the day, every day. Think of the power of words and how they help frame how we think and act. Take greetings, such as the Zulu greeting Sawubona. It means “I see you, you are important to me and I value you”. The I is a divine “I”, representing family, ancestry, an universal “We”. To find out how to respond to Sawubona, and about greetings in other cultures that recognize we are one human family, check out my 2020 blog post, Sawubona: From Just a Greeting to a Common Humanity, Community.
Food for thought. Why isn’t there something similar to Sawubona in English? Please prove me wrong, if you can.
A smile? Letting a car pull in from of you from their driveway? An act of kindness has a positive impact irrespective of how big or small the gesture is.
Kindness can be in the difficult things we need to do, as well, like a parent disciplining a child. It is in how we do it that kindness enters the picture. As Cornel West says, “never forget that justice is what love looks like in public.’
Being kind in all I do is one of my New Year’s Resolutions. What are some of yours?
March 23 2022.
“Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.”Saint Teresa of calcutta
Just had to update with this beautiful expression of being kindness personified by a person who was just that. One of my inspirations.
Mornings are a great time to meditate, reflect, and what better way to start a day by than by thinking of the greetings we use when we start an encounter, when we meet another. It has been shown that first impressions are important and that we make up our mind of someone in the first few seconds, so shouldn’t we make it count?
I like Sawubona, the Zulu greeting meaning, “I see you, you are important to me and I value you”. The I is a divine “I”, representing family, ancestry, an universal “We”. One responds to Sawubona with Yebo sawubona, meaning “I see you too”.
I chose Sawubona because it is unfamiliar in the circles I run in. I hope it grabs your attention. This greeting also reflects the Zulu concept of Ubuntu, a word/concept some may recognize. Ubuntu, meaning humanity, is the idea that without community a person does not exist, or “I am because we are”. It helps me better understand things like the “Truth and Reconciliation” process in South Africa after Apartheid, and the idea of reparations and what they could mean in America. By delving into why the greeting is used perhaps we can better understand this concept of Ubuntu. As this resonates and reflects from inside outwards, as Sawubona and Yebo sawubona, may it translate into meaningful action – critical in this time of pandemic and protests.
Incidentally, other greetings that are similar to Sawubona that more may recognize are the Hindu Namaste, or even the Hawaiian Aloha.
I do not want to reinvent the wheel so for more on Sawubona and Ubuntu two links I liked are https://exploringyourmind.com/sawubona-african-tribe-greeting/ and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xpqU9MtL8MI
For exploring Namaste and more further I quickly found https://bridget-edwards.com/namaste-and-sawubona-a-zulu-greeting/ and https://bridget-edwards.com/namaste-meaning-and-significance/
A little something I wrote today early morning in my delight. We have been experiencing a mini drought and I suddenly heard the pitter patter, smelt the change in the air, felt the difference!
Satiating parched earth while
Birds chirp morning songs.
When we can enjoy all these things as holy, “the world becomes a communion of subjects more than a collection of objects.” These words were said by Fr. Thomas Berry (1914–2009) who changed from theologian to geologian. For more on this epiphany of theologian to geologian, and the man himself, check out the following link: http://thomasberry.org/life-and-thought/about-thomas-berry/geologian
I grow every day, in so many ways.
I shrink in a few too!
I discern as I pray and contemplate;
I begin each ‘morn anew.
When there is heat later in the day,
Early outdoor work is the way.
Was working on trimming the low hanging from that tree,
Discovered a bird’s nest just waiting for me to see.
“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
Howard Thurman quote from the book ‘The Living Wisdom of Howard Thurman: A Visionary for Our Time’
This reminded of someone who said this succinctly a lot earlier, St. Catherine of Siena, whose feast day is today. One of her famous quotes says:
“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.”
There is a free screening of the St. Catherine of Siena movie available through the end of tomorrow, link follows, if anyone is interested in learning more about this remarkable individual: https://special.wordonfire.org/stcatherinebook?
“I think 99 times and find nothing.
I stop thinking, swim in the silence,
and the truth comes to me.”
— Albert Einstein
In stillness it is found. In silence it is known.