to see what we can achieve;
to reach beyond ourselves;
to share our lives with others;
to stretch our capability;
to increase our sense of purpose;
to be aware of where we can help;
to be sensitive to your presence;
to give heed to your constant call. Amen. (David Adam)
What is our purpose?
I was listening this week to Robin Young interview Joe Storthz, a Houston resident who helped his family and elderly neighbors during the storm & in the flooding afterwards...
His mother died in March; his wife died in June from pancreatic cancer at age 62; during the interview he said, “this year I’ve had time to reflect about life and wonder, why are we here? Now I think I know that we are here for each other. This is H-Town, we’’ll recover, and just like the rest of the people here, I’m just a neighbor helping a neighbor; in a very diverse city called Houston, Texas. Where strangers banded together.”
Owe no one anything, except to love one another, wrote St. Paul to the Romans. Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law. Joe Storthz like so many of his neighbors did just that, loved one another. Strangers banding together.
Our purpose is loving & helping each other. But love also recognizes when behavior is hurting others and needs to be corrected. I am thinking of the Gospel for today & Jesus reminder that even in our community we need to lovingly help each other…
When a woman in a certain African tribe knows she is pregnant, she goes out into the wilderness with a few friends and together they pray and meditate until they "hear" the "song" of the child. They recognize that every soul has its own vibration that expresses its unique purpose and essence. When the women become attuned to the song, they sing it out loud. Then they return to the tribe and teach the song to everyone else.
When the child is born, the community gathers and sings the child's song to him or her. Later, when the child begins his or her education, the village gathers and chants the child's song. When the child passes through the initiation to adulthood, the people again come together to sing. At the time of marriage, the young spouses hear their songs. And, finally, when the soul is about to pass from this world to the next, family and friends gather at the individual's bedside and, just as they sang at the dying individual's birth, they sing the person into the afterlife.
There is one other occasion when these African villagers sing to the child. If, at any time during his or her life, the individual commits a crime or aberrant social act, the individual is called to the center of the village and the people in the community form a circle around him or her. Then they sing the child's song to them. The tribe realizes that the correction for antisocial behavior is not punishment; it is love and the remembrance of identity. When you recognize your own song, you have no desire or need to do anything that would hurt another.
A friend is someone who knows your song and sings it to you when you have forgotten it. Those who love you are not fooled by mistakes you have made or dark images you hold about yourself. They remember your beauty when you feel ugly; your wholeness when you are broken; your innocence when you feel guilty; and your purpose when you are confused. [From Wisdom of the Heart by Alan Cohen.]
What a beautiful image of loving one another, singing the person’s song at crucial moments of their life.
Though we may not belong to an African tribe that sings one another's song, every life is, nonetheless, a constant challenge to live into our song, our purpose, our hope and love. To have our lives in sync with the many communities we are a part of: family, school, community, church. That awareness is Jesus' point in today's Gospel: God asks us to call out the best in one another, to celebrate what unites us - singing and listening to the song that expresses the meaning and purpose of our individual lives.
Reconciliation is not about punishing those who wrong us but as we heard from St. Paul & Jesus, confronting those misunderstandings and issues that divide, grieve, and even embitter us, in order to repair broken relationships and rebuild our community & our common life in the compassion, grace, and peace of God.
What is our purpose?
To love one another as Jesus has loved us.
Neighbor helping neighbor.
Helping each other hear our song.