From the Minister
I was recently told something rather wonderful about the Bantu people of Southern Africa. It is said that at night parents sneak into the rooms of their children, 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. 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. 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.