For Rugby fans, Saturday was magical.
For non-fans, Saturday was magical. And heartwarming.
South Africa wins their third World Cup. The enduring image? 28-year-old Siya Kolisi, the Springboks’ first black captain, lifts the trophy.
In my TV room, I smile big, and balter (dance).
This story is bigger than rugby or winning a game.
This is about who I’m invited to be and become. About what kind of life I make space for.
Rugby, beloved by the Afrikaners — the descendants of Dutch settlers in South Africa — was considered by many blacks to be a symbol of racist white minority rule. For years South African sports teams had been excluded from international competitions due to boycotts.
But Nelson Mandela championed the Springboks, seeing it as a unifying moment for the new “Rainbow Nation.” (This inspirational story of reconciliation recounted in the film “Invictus.”)
Rassie Erasmus (South Africa’s head coach) paid a glowing tribute to Kolisi. “He grew up in poverty… When you sit down and think about it, there was a stage when Siya didn’t have food to eat and, yes, that is the captain and he led South Africa to hold this Cup and that is what Siya is.”
“Was there pressure?” Erasmus was asked. I love his reframe. “In South Africa pressure is not having a job. Pressure is one of your close relatives being murdered. South Africa has a lot of problems and we started talking about how rugby shouldn’t be something that puts pressure on you. It should be something that creates hope. We started about how we are privileged.”
As Kolisi held tight the trophy, the country’s president Cyril Ramaphosa, wearing the green jersey of South Africa, joined the celebrations.
“Madiba (Nelson Mandela) will be looking down on you, and be so proud in what you have achieved,” former South Africa star Bryan Habana told Kolisi.
This story keeps my hope alive. (Borrowing from Larry Murante’s song, Nelson, “He took a bite out of apartheid… Nelson keeps my hope alive.”)
Stories are more important than food sometimes. Stories make space to invite us to be more human; inclusive, compassionate, listening, empathetic.
If I don’t make space, I shut down. And give way to a restrictive narrative of fear. And mistrust.
(Speaking of fear, I learned two new words this past week. Samhainophobia; fear of Halloween. My favorite, Nomophobia; fear of being without a working cellphone.)
Space invites, encourages, emboldens, reminding us that Love is bigger than fear.
“Hope is not talking about hope and saying hope and tweeting a good tweet about hope; hope is when you play well,” Kolisi says. “Hope is when people watch the game and have a nice BBQ and watch the game and they feel good afterwards, no matter your differences, for those 80 minutes you agree despite disagreeing about a lot of things. It is not our responsibility, it is our privilege.”
Throughout history, people, very ordinary people have taken exception to stories of hopelessness and exclusion. And hate. And violence.
Very ordinary people have taken on “the impossible” time and time again. Good news? It comes from who we are. It spills from the inside out. Because here’s the deal: This capacity—for love, compassion, kindness, truth, forgiveness, justice, restoration—is within. Every one of us. These are the armaments of the Spirit.
Nelson Mandela reminded us that “No one is born hating another person…People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” Let’s digest that: We are hardwired to not hurt each other. Which means that if we hate, we have to dehumanize one another.
And yes, we know that “it is wiser to light a candle than to curse the darkness.” But let’s be honest. Sometimes life is dark and not fun. Adversity is real. Life can be cruel. (People can be crueler.) Suffering happens. Suffering hurts. We reach a tipping point. And finding a candle is not always easy, let alone the motivation to light it.
So, yes, we wish the world were different. We wish the conversation wasn’t so toxic. “I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” (The Lord of the Rings)
After Nelson Mandela was released from prison he ran for office and was elected President of South Africa in 1994. His message? Forgiveness.
I gotta admit, that’s not a common political platform these days.
And then cynicism abounded. Many assuming that his declaration was lip service. And yet, something within his core allowed him to rise above situations, and surprise others with strength. He began with his staff, keeping both Afrikaners and Black. There was understandable tension.
In a scene from the movie Invictus, Nelson Mandela models the behavior, telling his guard (who was certain this new integrated South Africa would not work):
The rainbow nation starts here
recognition starts here
forgiveness starts here too
forgiveness liberates the souls
it removes fear
that is why it is such a powerful weapon
so please, try.
Keeps my hope alive. Nelson took a bite out of apartheid.
Keeps my hope alive. Wholehearted, we can take a bite out of apathy. Out of intolerance. Out of small-mindedness. Out of unkindness. Out of cruelty. Out of shame. And out of fear.
Our autumn weather has been mesmeric. A gift. Sunny and dry. This week, an evening meeting at the Edgewater hotel, on Seattle’s waterfront. The sunset (the color of lava) melts into the Olympic Mountains, demarcated, etched in charcoal. A ferry crosses. Life continues as the day ends. Invitation to savor this life. May I never get used to this.
We rolled back our clocks today, but not our joy.
Speaking of celebrations, a shout out to all Nationals fans. It was fun to see DC a cohesive place.
Quote for your week…
May I live this day compassionate of heart, clear in word, gracious in awareness, courageous in thought, generous in love. John O’Donohue
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Today’s photo credit — Autumn color Waynesville, NC… Sandy Jamieson… thank you Sandy… keep sending your photos… send firstname.lastname@example.org
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In the mailbag… because your letters affirm us all…
–Hello Terry, I hope that all is well on your end. I thought that you might enjoy this little story from a weary traveler. This last Wednesday (30th) I was heading back to Tampa from Pittsburgh on SouthWest flight 2678. The plane had just filled up with we passengers when the gate attendant got on the intercom announcing to us that we have a very special passenger on board today. Maebelle Hartman who is celebrating her 103rd birthday today. The crew gave her a bottle of champagne and a couple of other gifts and the Captain gave her a Rose and Baby’s Breath arrangement. Then we all joined in rather loudly singing Happy Birthday to dear Maebelle. It was a very joyous occasion with many smiles, cheer and some tears….ok…my tears. Anyway, just thought that you’d like to have another smile today! Blessings, Brian Jacobsen
–Terry – Before discussing last week’s Sabbath Moment, our small group had a few laughs about a list one of the members brought entitled “You know you’re a Lutheran…” One of the statements was “when you feel guilty about not feeling guilty”. We thought you would have been laughing right with us, had you been there:) It was a great icebreaker! Once we began discussing your “Beautifully Fragile” lesson, we found it so meaningful as we always do. Thank you and God bless your important ministry! In Christ’s Love, Sue & Friends
–Dear Terry – You did it again! Hit the nail on the head! Now if all of us could just realize no matter what we are doing, as long as there is kindness of heart attached to it, it is definitely time well spent! Your feast day is coming up this week — All Saints Day! May you and all your followers recognize the gift they are to the world. Peace and all good. Ann
–Terry, Thank you for this week’s Sabbath moment. It deeply touched me. Just recently when I applied for a job I was faced with that question of a 2 year gap. After 35 years of being an accountant I quit my job to take care of my father. Though our relationship was a difficult one growing up I found those 2 years caring for him the most rewarding thing I have ever done. He has been gone 2 years now and I still grieve but I am forever grateful for that gap I filled understanding my father’s love. Carol
–Good Morning Terry! I just read Sabbath Moment and it reminded me of a study I recently heard on NPR about empathy. The study proved that people of power and born of privilege are not capable of empathy. I also recently listened to a great song by Vince Gill called “When my Amy prays.” The leaf color is spectacular here in lower Michigan. I’m meeting a friend for a walk today. I also, met an artist in Detroit last month named Dabl of the African bead museum. You would find his work and meaning very interesting. He has been featured on pbs and NYT. Yesterday, I watched the HBO special on the Statue of Liberty. Make some time to watch it! It was amazing! Have a blessed day! We will keep praying for peace and those in need. Thank you again for your words Terry! Peace, Julie
POEMS AND PRAYERS
In intimate moments, you have been touched by something you cannot yet endure or carry, but you still love the touch and the invitation to carry. You are always larger after any intimate encounter; in fact, it might well be the only way to enlarge spiritually. It is always grace. Richard Rohr
Everything is waiting for you
Your great mistake is to act the drama
as if you were alone. As if life
were a progressive and cunning crime
with no witness to the tiny hidden
transgressions. To feel abandoned is to deny
the intimacy of your surroundings. Surely,
even you, at times, have felt the grand array;
the swelling presence, and the chorus, crowding
out your solo voice. You must note
the way the soap dish enables you,
or the window latch grants you freedom.
Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity.
The stairs are your mentor of things
to come, the doors have always been there
to frighten you and invite you,
and the tiny speaker in the phone
is your dream-ladder to divinity.
Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into the
conversation. The kettle is singing
even as it pours you a drink, the cooking pots
have left their arrogant aloofness and
seen the good in you at last. All the birds
and creatures of the world are unutterably
themselves. Everything is waiting for you.
Lord, the air smells good…
Lord, the air smells good today,
straight from the mysteries
within the inner courts of God.
A grace like new clothes thrown
across the garden, free medicine for everybody.
The trees in their prayer, the birds in praise,
the first blue violets kneeling.
Whatever came from Being is caught up in being, drunkenly
forgetting the way back.