In this beautiful film set to the words of Brother David Steindhl-Rast, you can’t help but see much of what makes life good and affirming. What if we learn to appreciate each day as if it is our first day…and our last? What if we appreciate each miracle as it presents itself to us throughout the day…the miracle of sight, of running water, of food, of laughter? What then?
They say there is an African tribe where, when a woman is pregnant, she goes into the jungle with the other women of the village, and together they pray and meditate until they discover that child’s song.When that child is born, the community gathers to sing his song. And at each of the major stages of his life, they will sing his song–as he becomes a man, marries, and finally as he meets death to accompany him on the journey. When that child commits an anti-social act, the community will not focus on or be fooled by the mistakes or the dark, broken or ugly places within him but will gather around him in a circle to sing him his song, for the answer is not punishment but to remind him of his true identity, his unique place in the community.
This is such a lovely picture of service and community and being seen and valued as a unique individual. Many of us long for that place. But in this world in which we find ourselves, often we don’t know our song. Or we sing someone else’s song. Or our song is drowned out. Or we are too busy, distracted, or afraid to sing our song. Or, frankly, we just mouth the words.
Today, make sure to sing your song. It’s not about whether you sing on key or whether your song is ready for a band tour. It’s about authenticity and offering the gifts that you uniquely have to offer. Sing away, little bird.
Sure, living generously blesses those who receive your gift. But giving also blesses you as it reminds you that you can make a difference, that you have purpose, and that no one is as equipped to meet the particular challenge in front of you in this place and time, as you.
It takes courage to love, doesn’t it? Particularly after we’ve been hurt and know how vulnerable we can be. How much safer it would be to protect ourselves from being completely known, from loving wholeheartedly, from reaching out to others. But living behind a facade is a recipe for loneliness. Walling others out also walls us in. Going it alone directly contradicts the foundational truth that we are all interconnected whether we choose to be or not.
Love is the great adventure. It is the answer to the what, how, and why we are here. So have the courage to trust love one more time…and always one more time.
Something there is in each of us that yearns for home. Sometimes we confuse that yearning with a physical place. We travel back to that place and wonder why it feels different. What has changed? Why doesn’t it still feel like home? Sometimes we confuse that yearning with a particular time, a past perhaps that wasn’t complicated with today’s troubles, and lose ourselves in nostalgia. Sometimes we confuse that yearning with a particular person and, if we lose that person, wonder if we will ever feel at home again.
But what if home is not a particular place in time but a feeling we can take steps to cultivate?
What is it, really, that ache for home? Perhaps it is a longing for a time and place when you felt welcome and that someone cared if you were there and was happy to see you. A longing for community, for fitting in. Life is difficult and we are all vulnerable, but that feeling of home makes the burden lighter somehow. Someone cares.
And, while we can’t travel backwards to any particular place or time when we felt at home, we can take steps right now today and every day from now on to be welcoming to others. The people shouting ‘Norm’ felt just as much a part of the community as Norm did when he walked into the bar in the old sitcom Cheers.
To welcome others and to be welcomed both feel like home. There is as much community in reaching out to others as there is in someone reaching out to you. So consider who may be feeling adrift, in need of a community or a welcoming hand. And then reach out because, when your hands meet, you will both feel a bit more comfortable in this wild unpredictable and often inhospitable world.