The word Ubuntu is an African word meaning “humanity to others.” The word has come into my life at different points in the past 20 years (starting way back when I was blessed to work at a YMCA camp as a counselor which hired international staff and my first summer there, we had two men from Africa on our staff team) and reminds me and us of the idea that ‘I am what I am because of who we are.’
I am offering an idea of how to refocus this month, so generally focused on the commercialism of love, to finding new and various ways to show love in action. How, in 28 days, can I model to my kids that chocolates and flowers and cards can be nice and show love, but showing and receiving love can take many meaningful forms.
Last week I spent some time reflecting on the verses from 1 Corinthians 13:1-13. These are very familiar verses, often used at weddings and I appreciated the different perspectives as I reflected. One translation I read was from The Message Bible. Let me share a few verses with you …
1 Corinthians 13: 3-7
So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first.”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep the score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
May these words stir in you meaningful ways to show love to others in the coming days of February. Some of these people may be very close to you, like family or treasured friends, and others you may not know well – or at all. It could mean showing love by learning about a group of people different than yourself, someone from a different faith background, or someone who identifies as GLBTQIA+, or someone who has a different color of skin than your own. And it might simply just be a random act of kindness.
Here are some ideas to get your creative juices flowing to love in action …
- Put a heart shaped note on the bedroom door of family members daily with a positive attribute you appreciate about them.
- Write a hand-written letter to a friend, family member, or mentor you greatly value and share WHY they matter to you.
- Read a book, watch a movie, or listen to a podcast from a different cultural perspective than your own to love by learning.
- Serve in a food ministry to the homeless or gather clothes, blankets, and warm winter gear you no longer need to give to someone who could greatly benefit from your kindness.
- Do something to love yourself …. a long walk, a cup of tea, and candle lit for devotion time, a conversation with a treasured friend (which is hard to make happen in our busy lives), journaling reflections of the past two years living with the COVID pandemic.
Dear God, teacher of love, justice seeker,
We ask that your help guide our hearts, minds, and actions in ways to show your unconditional and boundless love with many this month.