This time of year we often look around our lives at all the
people in it. And we may think about the people who used to be a part of our
lives and our now gone. This can be an opportunity to consider the way we have
been shaped and the ways we have grown in relation to the people with whom we
have shared our lives. Relationships are not always easy. But they do always
offer us new information about ourselves and, if we look deeply enough, about
the way we want to be in relation to others.
There is a concept from Southern Africa, Ubunto, which can
be defined in many ways. But one powerful definition says that a person is a
unique person through being with other people. It speaks to the way we are
shaped by others in our world; that in fact we are co-creating one another
through interaction. This is a dynamic way of seeing who we are, not fixed but
in constant change through relationship.
So maybe this year, take some time to look at your relationships
through this lens. How has each person shaped who you are and how you move in
the world? What did you learn from having each of these people in your circle?
What parts of your self does each person bring out? What do you value about
each relationship? Think about the fullness of who you are, so many aspects and
insights. Our humanity dancing with humanity, so many daily moments of contact
and non-contact. Wonder about the ways you avoid being affected by others and
why. Wonder about the times you open yourself up to connection and what that
asks of you.
And maybe when the people around you are trying your
patience (it happens to all of us), you can get curious about who shaped these
people and how their humanity is also in response to relationships past and
present. How might your presence have
shaped them? Remember that we are all co-creating together, responding,
learning, changing. Be thankful.