Sunday, 22 January 2017

Become what you are

"Do I Matter? "

Standing before the One who is all the world,
can it be that I matter?
Can it be that such a small thing as me
has a place in such a grand scheme?
And yet it is so.

I am empty of permanence.
I don't endure.
My days are limited and too few to fulfill the desires of my heart.
I am so small and temporary. And yet so important.

This pile of dust speaks!
This bag of skin thinks!
This frail body acts and makes a difference!

I am the only me that has ever been.
I am shaken by the knowledge that
I never existed before and will not again.

The Source rebirths, but never repeats.
Infinite possibility demands infinite diversity.

Whatever I must do I must do here and now.
Whatever gift I am to give I must give it here and now.
Whatever purpose I am to fulfill I must fulfill it here and now.

I am what I am here and now.
I am what I do with who I am.

By Rami Shapiro

I like to talk with people, to be with people to listen to people. Generally I don’t do much of the talking. I was like this as a child in the company of family. Mostly I watched and listened. I paid attention. In many ways I suspect this is my natural state, the way I like to be. Now don’t get me wrong I like to talk, I love to be listened to. But the majority of the time I watch and listen. Maybe that is why ministry suits me, it’s mostly about listening and observing, opening all your senses, absorbing it all, digesting it and then bringing something from all of this. It’s almost as if all that I experience in the week feeds into those times when I share with those I serve whether physically or virtually. I offer thanks to those who read and listen. Thank you for listening and reading, but most importantly thank you and all the other people who have spoken with me this week. Thank you to all that I have listened to.

I was listening to someone the other day who was talking to me about identity and how your upbringing shapes who you are, good or bad. He told me something rather wonderful, which I hope is true, but I have not yet been able to verify. He told me that there is a tradition amongst some of the Bantu people of Southern Africa. He told me “that it is said that the Bantu people sneak into the rooms of their children at night, as they sleep, and whisper in their ears, 'Become what you are.'

“Become what you are.” Not become who you are, but what you are. I thought to myself how wonderful it must be to have that song singing in your soul as you grow and develop. It got me thinking about who or what I am? Who or what I have been and who or what I might yet become?…The truth is throughout our lives we never stop becoming or maybe un-becoming…I try not to be too un-becoming these days.

I was out visiting the other day, I again spent most of the day sitting and listening with people. I then drove home and spent another hour or so on the phone catching up with family. Oh I wish I had more time and energy to do more of this. I was on the phone with my brother, someone who has known me from the first day of my life. My big brother. We talked about many things. The state of our lives and what his kids were up to. They actually let him speak, which is not always the case. We talked about music, the world, faith and cricket…mainly cricket (We are good Yorkshire exiles). He then asked me what I was going to be doing that evening. I said I was going to relax and eat and watch the Chelsea v Leicester City game and then watch an Italian football game on BT Sport. He then said something I found a little strange “Where did you get your love of football from? I was never that into it. Our dad certainly wasn’t interested and Dave (our stepfather when we were children) wasn’t into it either.” I remember feeling a little defensive at the time and thinking not everything I did in my life was following you or the other older males in the family. I thought even “Our Allen our older step-brother who was mr super sportsman was more into rugby and cricket than football and even my grandad was more into rugby league than football. That said we talked about football a lot in the last few years of his life, I remember just a couple of days before he died, when he was very weak, one of the first questions he asked me was how “We” were getting on? “We” being Leeds United of course.

I paused for a few moments and considered my brother’s question and retraced where the love for football came from. The truth is though I do not know. It has always been there. It is just something I love and have always done so. As a young boy I was obsessed. As I told him all we ever did at school was play football at break time and dinner time. I was never any good but I loved to play. Interestingly many people these days are surprised when they discover this about me as I don’t go on about it. I love it though. It’s not really very strange either. It is hardly a minority sport…(Muttley laugh)

Now I think what really got to me about the conversation and the questioning of my love is the assumption that I only love and like what I do due to the influence of others. That who I am and who each of us are is based on the influences of the elders in our communities etc. That who we are uniquely is shaped by external influences. That to be who and what we are is based primarily on the senior influences in our lives. It got me thinking and feeling and watching and most of all listening…It awakened my homiletic consciousness. Hence this "BlogSpot"

It got me thinking about who are we, what are we? What shapes us? Is it our environment? Our ancestry? Our culture? How do we become who or what we are? As time went by someone or something kept on whispering in my ear “Become what you are.”

The first thought was from one of my ministerial influences Forrest Church and his little mantra for life “Want what you have, do what you can, be who you are.” It was the last bit “be who you are, or what you are” that was singing in my ears, my song for the week. It brought to mind Rev Peter Friedrich’s reflection on “Be who you are”. He suggested that most of what we learn to be comes from childhood emulation, that despite being rational discerning people we learn most of what we know by copying the elders in our lives like a giant game of “follow my leader”. In many ways our whole culture is based upon this that to be successful we have to look and be a certain way. Just think about the whole advertising industry that is driven by this sense of dissatisfaction because we are not living up to what we’re supposed to be. This is supposedly a good thing, that by seeing what is wrong with us we will somehow become better. We are visually bombarded and our ears are sound blasted by this ideal of what we ought to be. We all of us follow to some degree or another. If only someone or something was whispering in our ears, as we slept at night “Become what you are.” Never mind who you are.

“Become what you are.”

There are two very different ways that most folk seem to view life, either everything matters or nothing really matters. I was once one of those folk who believed, for a long time, that nothing really mattered, that there was no meaning to life. Now I no longer see life this way. In so doing I have become something else. I believe that this is what I’ve become. You see to live in such a way that everything matter is to become what I am. This is the voice I hear speaking to me through all life, whether awake or asleep, that everything matters. That every single one of us matters, as does everything out there. That everything is sacred, every feeling, every thought, every word, every deed matters.

It matters what you are, it matters what you are, it matters what you are…

Each of us belong here, we each have a place here, we each have gifts to offer life, we each have a bliss that we must follow…to me this is becoming what you are, following your bliss…

While we are all part of a greater whole and we all make this greater whole at the same time we are each of us sacred and unique and in order to truly serve life we need to truly become who and what we are. We need to fully embrace what we are exactly as we are. This is not easy and it is certainly not painless, but it is absolutely vital both to ourselves and all life.

We need to truly become what we are; to truly become what we are is to take our place fully in life. You see we never take this journey of becoming what we are alone. We do need others to accompany us, to whisper in our ears, especially when we are asleep “Become what you are”, just as they need us to keep on whispering in their ears “Become what you are”. We do not sail the ship of life alone, we are relational beings we are co-created and we a part of the on-going co-creation which continues way behind our life spans as it began way before we were here. We are all a part of this amazing thing called life, a tiny but vital aspect and the whole of life keeps on whispering to us “Become what you are”, we are needed and wanted and loved by life itself. Life needs us to become what we are. To dance the dance of life, to take our turn in leading and following.

Life needs us to become what we are and put our whole selves into becoming what we are. For in so doing the very ordinariness of our daily living will become truly extraordinary.

Now I’m going to end this chip of a "blogspot"with a short tale from the wisdom of Anthony DeMello, it goes by the title “Most Wonderful Hash”

" 'What's so original about this man?' asked a visitor. 'All he gives you is a hash of stories, proverbs, and sayings from other masters.'

"A woman disciple smiled. She once had a cook, she said, who made the most wonderful hash in the world.

" 'How on earth do you make it, my dear? You must give me the recipe.'

"The cook's face glowed with pride. She said, 'Well, ma'am, I'll tell yer: beef's nothin'; pepper's nothin'; onion's nothin'; but when I throws myself into the hash — that's what makes it what it is.' "

So let’s throw our whole selves in, our whole selves out, in out, in out and shake it all…for if we do we will make something extraordinary…Let’s become what we are…

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