Continuing in the reflective tone of the season, I want to share an anecdote sent to me by Rabbi Kerry Baker:
Bishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Laureate and Episcopal Archbishop of South Africa, had a profound effect on his later life. When asked to name a childhood experience that empowered him to work for social justice, he recalled an incident in which, as a youngster, he saw a white man tip his hat to a black woman.
“The woman,” noted Tutu, “was my mother, and the man was an Episcopal bishop!”
Based on this incident, I am encouraged to think of an act that influenced me for good when I was younger.
There were so many, but my mind goes first to my Grandma Anna, my mother's mother, who is my anchor for goodness and simplicity. I remember hanging laundry with her when I was six or seven, up earlier in the morning than I wanted to be. I don't remember complaining about the hour or the work, but I must have, because I remember she reminded me about the honor and dignity of work done well without complaint. She taught me to hang each piece of clothing straight and carefully, clothes pins evenly spaced. Hanging clothes with her was like a morning prayer, a mindfulness, an act of gratitude. She pointed out the colors of the sky, the song and redness of the cardinal in the peach tree, the freshness of the breeze. The lesson doesn't translate well into words. It was so deep, under and beyond words - a lesson of humility, simplicity, dignity, work, mindfulness, all tied together in the daily routines of life.
And I am asked to make a commitment to pass this lesson on today.
Today I will behave in ways that will reflect mindfuness, patience, and humility.