“We are lonesome animals. We spend all of our life trying to be less lonesome. One of our ancient methods is to tell a story begging the listener to say—and to feel—‘yes, that is the way it is, or at least that’s the way I feel it. You’re not as alone as you thought.’”
When you regain a sense of your life as a journey of discovery, you return to rhythm with yourself. When you take the time to travel with reverence, a richer life unfolds before you. Moments of beauty begin to braid your days. When your mind becomes more acquainted with reverence, the light, grace and elegance of beauty find you more frequently. When the destination becomes gracious, the journey
becomes an adventure of beauty.
– John O’Donohue
Terry Hershey tells a wonderful story about the northern Natal tribes in South Africa.
They greet one another each day, saying “Sawa Bona,” which means literally “I see you.” Their response is “Sikhona” which means “I am here.”
They are saying to one another, “until you see me I do not exist; and when you see me you bring me into existence. When you see me, I am fully present, I am here.”
Members of these tribes go about their day with personal validation from everyone they encounter–they are seen for who they are.
They are a community where everybody is a somebody, and the wholeness of each individual coalesces into the wholeness of the community.
A beautiful reflection to start the week with from Bryan Stevenson, a social justice activist, and founder of the Equal Justice Initiative and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama.
“I guess I’d always known but never fully considered that being broken is what makes us human. We all have our reasons. Sometimes we’re fractured by the choices we make; sometimes we’re shattered by things we would never have chosen. But our brokenness is also the source of our common humanity, the basis for our shared search for comfort, meaning, and healing. Our shared vulnerability and imperfection nurtures and sustains our capacity for compassion. We have a choice. We can embrace our humanness, which means embracing our broken natures and the compassion that remains our best hope for healing. Or we can deny our brokenness, forswear compassion, and, as a result, deny our own humanity… But simply punishing the broken—walking away from them or hiding them from sight—only ensures that they remain broken and we do, too. There is no wholeness outside of our reciprocal humanity… Embracing our brokenness creates a need for mercy.”
Our dear friend and Global Village Storyteller, Dr Brian Stork, shared the story with us of his involvement in the Michigan Road Scholars program. This unique program is a week-long opportunity for a diverse group of faculty to spend time away from their respective campuses and take a deep dive into communities around the State of Michigan.
When a young girl in an African village heard that her visiting teacher would be leaving their village, she wanted to give her a special gift. The girl didn’t have any money to buy a present for her teacher, but finally determined what she would do.
She was gone for two days. When she returned, she was carrying the most exquisite shell anyone in her village had ever seen. “Where did you find such a beautiful shell?” her teacher asked amazed. The child told her that such shells were found only on a certain faraway beach.
The teacher was deeply touched because she knew that the girl had walked many miles to find the shell. “Why, it’s wonderful, but you shouldn’t have gone all that way to get a gift for me.” Her eyes brightening, the girl smiled and answered
“Long walk part of gift.”
(Story from Terry Hershey)
A poet meets a local farmer in an art gallery in the west of Ireland. Once a year, the farmer, who lives on the shores of Loch Corrib, visits the gallery. The gallery owner introduces the two men. The poet points out the intricacies and hidden symbolism of the paintings as the farmer listens intently. When the poet finishes, the farmer thanks him and tells him he has a wonderful eye, which is a special gift. In return, the farmer shares a story of his own special gift – Teannalach.
“I live beside the lake and you always hear the ripple of the waters and the sound of wind on the water; everyone hears that. However, on certain summer days when the lake is absolutely still and everything is silent, I can hear how the elements and the surface of the lake make a magic music together.”
A few days later, the farmer’s neighbour comes into the gallery. The owner, recalling the conversation between the poet and the farmer, asks the neighbour what he knows about Teannalach. “Oh yes,” he says “They have that word up there. I’ve never seen it written down, so it’s hard to say what it means. I suppose it means awareness, but in truth it is about seven layers deeper.”
In the story, the gift of Teannalach, is a gift nurtured through daily practice. It’s rare, and also recognized and revered by others. The story, says, O’Donohue, “underlines the hiddenness of beauty, a beauty that dwells between the worlds which cannot be reached with known language or bare senses. It only reveals itself when the mind’s attention is radical and the imagination is finely tuned.”
Story adapted from John O’Donohue’s book, Beauty: The Invisible Embrace.