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Posts Tagged ‘#livingincommunity’

Walking through the door of the sanctuary we were greeted warmly by people who know us, and I realized in my heart what I had known weeks before, when we decided that this would be our church …

we were no longer just visiting,
we were home.

Later, as we worshiped in singing, together, I felt like God was whispering in my ears, 

“Bring your sorrows and trade them for joy
From the ashes a new life is born
Jesus is calling”

A new church, the reminder of community.
A messy, imperfect, it’s-gonna-take-effort and a sincere heart,
but it’s so worth it
community.

As we continue in this advent season, we might forget that there is new life, fresh starts found in this season. If advent is about expectation and waiting, Christmas is about a new start, fresh opportunities, a chance to have our sins erased, and a new future to move towards. 

The waiting for the Messiah results in his birth, full of love, hope, peace, joy and wonder. 

To be part of the love, hope, peace, joy and wonder we need to respond to the gifts of Christmas, as Christina Rossetti said,

“What can I give Him, poor as I am? … I would do my part; Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.”

To be in community with God is to have given Him our heart, our lives … everything before this moment, and everything that is to come. This is the receiving of the gift of Christmas.

Like hubby and I in our new church community, we could go there forever, and only take what we need. To be part of a community, a relationship, though, is to reciprocate … to “do our part … give our heart”. 

“O come to the altar
The Father’s arms are open wide
Forgiveness was bought with
The precious blood of Jesus ChristOh what a savior
Isn’t He wonderful?
Sing hallelujah, …”


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A few years ago I wrote a blog post about swimming. And, more specifically, about the beautiful spirit that accompanies participation in swim club, and in swim meets. I revealed a particular true story of a swimmer, performing with everything within him (despite lack of experience, and a diagnosed disability), and the awe inspiring response of encouragement of everyone who witnessed his race (https://itsawonderfilledlife.net/2011/05/31/why-i-love-swim-meets/).

A delightful reader left a delightful comment. Within her comment she identified what I had written about as defined in the South African word, ‘Ubuntu’.

This word, previously unknown to me, means “I am because you are.” It is a word of mutual reliance, and of healthy co-dependency … it is a concept that our independent, individualistic, self-sufficient world would not only frown at, but also discourage.

But, humanly speaking, it is a word of depth … a word of truth.

For we ARE dependent on each other …

An unborn child is dependent on it’s mother … to survive

A newborn child is dependent on it’s parents/caregivers … to survive

A school aged child is dependent on it’s parents/caregivers/teachers … to survive

A teenager is dependent on their parents/caregivers/teachers/friends … to survive

An adult is dependent on their family/friends/employer … to thrive

A newlywed is dependent on their family/friends/employer/spouse/self-help book authors … to thrive

A new parent is dependent on their family/friends/employer/spouse/self-help book authors/doctor … to thrive (and survive)

A parent of a pre-teen/teen is dependent on their family/friends/employer/spouse/doctor/self-help book authors … to thrive (and survive)

A middle aged adult is dependent on their family/friends/employer/spouse/doctor/self-help book authors/doctor (plastic surgeon?) … to thrive (and survive)

An aging adult is dependent on their family/friends/spouse (if still alive)/doctorS/children and … Depends … to thrive (and survive … in public)

We need each other to survive. And the more we acknowledge our need for each other, the more we change how we treat each other. Because ‘others’ are no longer ‘competition’, but teammates. And ‘others’ are not longer just ‘a person’, but they become a someone.

We will look at everyone we come into contact with as a valid, integral part of our life.

We will notice the name tag of the cashier, and call them by their name. We will hold that door for the person a few feet behind us. We will help the stranger whose arms are burdened with papers or parcels. We will say hello to a passerby, and smile to tell them it was our pleasure to cross paths with them. We will remove our fingers from the computer, and give our attention fully to our spouse, or child. We will think before we speak …

I wonder, what a day with a heart of ubuntu would look like?

To live any other way, is to live a narcissistic (ode to Narcissus who fell in love with his reflection in the water … kind of like my beast) existence.

I encourage you,

I encourage me,

to live today with ubuntu in every step!

“Ubuntu speaks of the very essence of being human.

We say “Hey, so-and-so has ubuntu.”

Then you are generous, you are hospitable, you are friendly and caring and compassionate.

You share what you have.

It is to say, “My humanity is caught up, is inextricably bound up, in yours.”

We belong in a bundle of life.

We say, “A person is a person through other persons.”

Desmond Tutu

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A few years ago I wrote a blog post about swimming. And, more specifically, about the beautiful spirit that accompanies participation in swim club, and in swim meets. I revealed a particular true story of a swimmer, performing with everything within him (despite lack of experience, and a diagnosed disability), and the awe inspiring response of encouragement of everyone who witnessed his race (https://itsawonderfilledlife.net/2011/05/31/why-i-love-swim-meets/).

A delightful reader left a delightful comment. Within her comment she identified what I had written about as defined in the South African word, ‘Ubuntu’.

This word, previously unknown to me, means “I am because you are.” It is a word of mutual reliance, and of healthy co-dependency … it is a concept that our independent, individualistic, self-sufficient world would not only frown at, but also discourage.

But, humanly speaking, it is a word of depth … a word of truth.

For we ARE dependent on each other …

An unborn child is dependent on it’s mother … to survive

A newborn child is dependent on it’s parents/caregivers … to survive

A school aged child is dependent on it’s parents/caregivers/teachers … to survive

A teenager is dependent on their parents/caregivers/teachers/friends … to survive

An adult is dependent on their family/friends/employer … to thrive

A newlywed is dependent on their family/friends/employer/spouse/self-help book authors … to thrive

A new parent is dependent on their family/friends/employer/spouse/self-help book authors/doctor … to thrive (and survive)

A parent of a pre-teen/teen is dependent on their family/friends/employer/spouse/doctor/self-help book authors … to thrive (and survive)

A middle aged adult is dependent on their family/friends/employer/spouse/doctor/self-help book authors/doctor (plastic surgeon?) … to thrive (and survive)

An aging adult is dependent on their family/friends/spouse (if still alive)/doctorS/children and … Depends … to thrive (and survive … in public)

We need each other to survive. And the more we acknowledge our need for each other, the more we change how we treat each other. Because ‘others’ are no longer ‘competition’, but teammates. And ‘others’ are not longer just ‘a person’, but they become a someone.

We will look at everyone we come into contact with as a valid, integral part of our life.

We will notice the name tag of the cashier, and call them by their name. We will hold that door for the person a few feet behind us. We will help the stranger whose arms are burdened with papers or parcels. We will say hello to a passerby, and smile to tell them it was our pleasure to cross paths with them. We will remove our fingers from the computer, and give our attention fully to our spouse, or child. We will think before we speak …

I wonder, what a day with a heart of ubuntu would look like?

To live any other way, is to live a narcissistic (ode to Narcissus who fell in love with his reflection in the water … kind of like my beast) existence.

I encourage you,

I encourage me,

to live today with ubuntu in every step!

“Ubuntu speaks of the very essence of being human.

We say “Hey, so-and-so has ubuntu.”

Then you are generous, you are hospitable, you are friendly and caring and compassionate.

You share what you have.

It is to say, “My humanity is caught up, is inextricably bound up, in yours.”

We belong in a bundle of life.

We say, “A person is a person through other persons.”

Desmond Tutu

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Screen Shot 2018-10-10 at 5.49.15 PM

Just a year ago, the phone rang, as I sat, cross-legged, on our sofa, writing away, enjoying the new delight of not having to go to work on a Pro D day.

That phone ring, and the ensuing conversation, changed the trajectory of our lives, resulting in loss of work, long term illness, a move and more.

It was as if the world stopped spinning, as I unwittingly overheard the conversation on speaker phone and I knew that life was about to change and that hubby was entering the valley of the shadow. I also knew that no one enters it alone.

A rock, when dropped into water will cause the water around it to displace, circles of water pushing outwards, one wave at a time until the ripples quiet like the water furthest away. Like that rock, every action, or inaction in our lives has a ripple effect into the lives of others around us.

The thing is, that while the one who dropped the rock into the water moves on down the shore, forgetting the effect of their action, the ripples continue to form and move outward, farther and farther from the place/person of initial impact.

We all have, or have had events in our lives with ripple effects. We have all caused ripple effects in the lives of others. These realities are part of the human experience, the human reality of living in community.

This is why, at court proceedings, there are often victim impact statements that are read, preceding the sentencing of the accused. This is so that the judge, jury, but especially the accused is made aware of how far-reaching their action has gone. It is the stories of hurt and loss and struggle experienced not just by the victim, but those surrounding them.

Ripples, once started in water, cannot be stopped. Eventually they will dissipate as they move further and further from their origin, but to try to stop them by external means, only creates new ripples. Truly, once the rock touches the water, the effect can never be stopped, or reversed.

Such is the case with everything we say, or do … or don’t say, or don’t do. We are the ones responsible for throwing that rock into the water, whether we stand by and watch the waves grow ever farther outward, or keep walking along the shore, unaware of the waves we started.

“I will call upon your name,
And keep my eyes above the waves”
Hillsong United

“We are none of us cast adrift, if we have faith.
In the cross, we find our anchor.”
Monica Joan Call the Midwife

 

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 I wonder when it begins?

You know the it I am referring to?

looking ahead, thinking about tomorrow, dreaming of the start of school, the new job, the vacation, the completion of school, the wedding, the birth of the baby, the child’s graduation, the child moving out …

I expect it is something hard wired into our human minds, and it is not all bad, as we need to look ahead, to dream, to plan, to stretch beyond our present.

I am gifted, even fueled, by looking ahead.

I countdown to events, breaks, vacations, even possible snow days!

This summer break, I have had the joy of a few days away, the satisfaction of furniture refinishing to satisfy my creative side, the achievement of helping hubby to mend a septic problem, and friends to share our time, our place and our table with. These have all been good things … things that bring me joy.

I have not counted the number of weeks left before work recommences, nor the days until hubby begins his next vacation (though, I am sure he has counted). I have not been eager to get my furniture sold, nor have I started the healthier eating summer goals that I had planned. Heck, I have barely even sat down to write!

I have stayed up late, and slept beyond hubby (this never happens). I have sat and chatted with a daughter, with no goal in mind, other than to spend time together. I have bought veggie plants with another, and we are enjoying their growth, despite the fact that they are in the same containers we purchased in which we purchased. I have taken my son shopping for clothes and we brought home nothing more than soft drinks. I have sat and watched documentaries with hubby.

I have sat … and that’s all I have done.

no goals, no tomorrows

just today, now.

Psalm 90:14 spoke to my heart the other day,

“Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,
that we may sing for joy
and be glad all our days.”

I’m loving today, I’m living today, and all it takes is breathing … and that’s enough.

 

 

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Recently, as hubby was cleaning up after dinner, I was griping to him about a frustration or two in my day. I think I may have done this too much lately.

He then said, “don’t take this personally (ya right … saying that only encourages me to take it personally), but I think we are both in a state of discontent right now. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it might be good to look for the reason for our discontent.” For whatever reason, I did not reply, I only pondered his words. And then pondered them some more.

As much as I pondered, and as much as I tried to look at the reasons for discontent in our life (lives), there was only one consistent line of thinking that came to mind, “who knows but that you have come to your position for such a time as this.” (Esther 4:14)

The quote comes out of the story of Esther, a beautiful Jewish woman, chosen by the king of Persia to be his queen. It was through this position that she was able to secure the safety of the Jews throughout this Persian kingdom. It was through her understanding, that perhaps God had placed her in the position she was in for this very purpose, that encouraged her to do what was right.

But, why the discontent? Why did that verse keep recycling through my thoughts, for hours after? It is not as though, like Esther, our decisions could affect the physical lives of ourselves and those around us. It is not as though our decisions affect anyone, right?

Wrong!

That verse that has been recycling through my thoughts has reminded me of a very important reality … we do not live independently, but in community with others. We may like to think (perhaps out of a false sense of humility, or a very real sense of arrogance) that others lives are not affected by our choices, but we are not islands. We live in community, we live with others, we depend on others. In turn, others depend on us.

Maybe that is what Esther heard and understood, as her uncle Mordechai reminded her of her current circumstances (not ones she had sought or chose). He also reminded her that there was perhaps a purpose in her position, and therefore, a purpose-giver (without directly saying so).

That giver of purpose is the the Creator of our souls (our very beings), the Creator of all that is around us, the same God of Esther.

It is He who directs our paths, and it is He who creates us with and for purpose. Even our discontent is not without purpose (maybe even our griping). But, we must not sit in our discontent, we must seek it’s purpose, it’s role in the circumstances we are currently living.

Maybe hubby was right (oh boy … I can hear him snickering as he is printing and framing those words … I will never be able to live with him now), maybe we need to look for the reason or purpose for our discontent.

Maybe, we (each of us) have come to this position, this place, for such a time as this.

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