- TWIL (This Week I Learned)
This week I contemplated ubuntu.
By the end of the week I had a “vulnerability hangover” so bad that all I wanted to do was dig a deep pit, crawl into it, and hide.
Of course, my better senses prevailed and the ground is still frozen here, so…
The feeling I had by the end of the week was one of needing ubuntu. Not “resilience” — this newsletter may well be late this morning because I spent way too long looking for the word that matches what I feel I need — and, honestly, what we need.
I (and we) need to make a decision to turn toward what is good and right and beautiful and honorable and just. And even when we want to turn away, just for a moment, we need to shore up all our inner strength and steadfastly remain facing that light.
Now — what on earth is the word for that? Someone mentioned “ubuntu” this week. At first, I thought, am I bold enough to use a word from a culture I know little about, potentially out of context? And then I remembered Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and felt that if he shares the concept with the world, I can humbly offer it as well.
“There is symbolic as well as actual beauty in the migration of the birds, the ebb and flow of the tides, the folded bud ready for the spring. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature - the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after the winter.”
― Rachel Carson, The Sense of Wonder
“Miracles… seem to me to rest not so much upon… healing power coming suddenly near us from afar but upon our perceptions being made finer, so that, for a moment, our eyes can see and our ears can hear what is there around us always.”
― Willa Cather, Death Comes for the Archbishop
“Being “needed” does not entail selfish pride or unhealthy attachment to the worldly esteem of others. Rather, it consists of a natural human hunger to serve our fellow men and women. As the 13th-century Buddhist sages taught, “If one lights a fire for others, it will also brighten one’s own way.”
Virtually all the world’s major religions teach that diligent work in the service of others is our highest nature and thus lies at the center of a happy life. Scientific surveys and studies confirm shared tenets of our faiths. Americans who prioritize doing good for others are almost twice as likely to say they are very happy about their lives. In Germany, people who seek to serve society are five times likelier to say they are very happy than those who do not view service as important. Selflessness and joy are intertwined. The more we are one with the rest of humanity, the better we feel. — Arthur Brooks
I have always like the word "alchemy”. It seems mischievous in our modern age. A little audacious.
The idea, too, that you can turn a base metal into gold, something common into something precious — the symbolism reminds me of so many other transmutations in nature that are, essentially, that.
Where are you in your alchemical journey this week, this morning?
Do you feel as though you are becoming more precious? Is the question even too ridiculous to ponder?
This week, I heard Arthur Brooks say that we should “love people, use things, and worship the divine.” That resonated with me.
The way to become more precious involves service, sharing, giving, caring for each other.
I find this challenging when what I see, seemingly in an onslaught, is a series of transactional relationships with people and the divine, with what looks like love for things.
So: A thought. How precious are you, how precious are those around you? How do you know?
A long time ago, and utterly devoid of context, someone planted the idea of “garbage in, garbage out” in my brain. It stuck. When things become challenging, I narrow what I allow into my sight to be “not garbage” :)
I invite you to try this: For one day, one hour, one week, whatever — narrow what you allow into your life to be only nourishing.
5. Level-UP / Go Deeper
And…if you have done that, see if you can allow out only what is nourishing.