Where we are going (together)

I had the privilege of visiting Capetown, South Africa for the first time last October.  This city, rich in pain and reconciliation, is marked with the story of Nelson Mandela. It meant even more to me to visit just a few months before he passed away.

The country of South Africa (and the surrounding region) is also marked with the philosophy of Ubuntu, originally meaning “the essence of being human.” Throughout Southern Africa, there are many proverbs demonstrating Ubuntu, often used by religious or political leaders like Desomnd Tutu and Nelson Mandela to rally the passion of the people.

As I traveled through the airport in Johannesburg multiple times on this trip, one proverb of Ubuntu philosophy stood out to me. I laughed when I first saw it, because the organization I work for uses it often. It was etched in glass, incorporated into bank ads, and painted or sewn onto wall hangings in the various shops.

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

On this journey to discover rhythms, I cannot go alone. You cannot go alone. 

This journey is to craft a life that works, and your life simply cannot work apart from others. You must start this journey with those around you involved, asking them to support you and to help guide you. Those who know you best will be able to see when your rhythms are or are not working.

There is another African proverb, “I am, because we are.”

Community is key when crafting rhythms. Solitude and reflection are part of the journey, but you (and others around you) will thrive when what you have learned there is integrated into community life. Rhythms are personal in that they are unique to you, but their beauty is seen when they are lived out with others.

So what does this look like?

If you are just starting this journey, find a few good friends and ask them, “When I’m at my best, what kind of things am I doing regularly?”

If you are married and have a family, ask your husband or wife how to best integrate the things that give you life into your communal schedule. Be sure to ask your spouse what life-giving things he or she needs as well. One-sided rhythms are never very sustainable!

Involve people in the discovery of your rhythms. Often our relationships are the clearest mirrors to tell us when we are at our best, or when we really need to change and do things differently.

I am the person I am because of my community. You are who you are because of yours. Practicing life-giving rhythms that add wholeness and fullness to your life pours out and adds wholeness and fullness to the lives of people around you.

So let’s start moving toward discovering rhythms (together).