In November 2018 a daily meditation prepared by Richard Rohr made a significant impact on me to the extent I photocopied the message and kept the hard copy in my notebook for future reference and so hopefully not to forget this good news which remains and seems more significant just now –
Thursday 29th of November subject was of Generosity of Spirit and under a main heading of Joy and Hope.
For a week in April 2015, Archbishop Desmond Tutu visited His Holiness the Dalai Lama at his residence in exile in India. These arrangements intrigued me as two world religious leaders had gone to significant trouble to take time out to travel (or at least one person), to meet, talk, understand each other better and using their experience to generate ideas and words which Douglas Abrams used to prepare The Book of Joy. Also i have always been inspired by Desmond Tutu when seeing him in the news as he always seems to have an amazing smile and time to communicate in stressful situations even though his life experiences have been challenging to say the least (along with the Dalai Lama).
Suffering is inevitable, they said, but how we respond to that suffering is our choice. Not even oppression or occupation can take away this freedom to choose our response.
As their dialogue progressed, they converged on eight pillars of joy. Four were qualities of mind being perspective, humility, humour and acceptance. Four were qualities of the heart being forgiveness, gratitude, compassion and generosity.
(Archbishop Tutu said) “Our human nature has been distorted,…. I mean, we are actually quite remarkable creatures. In our religions I am created in the image of God. I am a God carrier, It’s fantastic. I have to be growing in godlikeness, in caring for the other. I know that each time I have acted compassionately, I have experienced a joy in me that I find in nothing else.
When we practice a generosity of spirit, we are in many ways practising all the other pillars of joy. In generosity, there is a wider perspective in which we see our connections to all others. There is a humility that recognises our place in the world and acknowledge that at another time we could be the one in need, whether that need is material, emotional or spiritual. There is a sense of humour and ability to laugh at ourselves so that we do not take ourselves too seriously. There is an acceptance of life, in which we do not force life to be other than what it is. There is a forgiveness of others and a release of what otherwise might have been. There is a gratitude for all that we have been given. Finally, we see others with a deep compassion and a desire to help those who are in need. And from this comes a generosity that is “wise selfish”, a generosity that recognises helping others as helping ourselves. As the Dalai Lama put it, “In fact, taking care of others, helping others, ultimately is the way to discover your own joy and to have a happy life”.
Archbishop Tutu offered this blessing near the end of their time together.
“Dear Child of God, you are loved with a love that nothing can shake, a love that loved you long before you were created, a love that will be there long after everything has disappeared. You are precious, with a preciousness that is totally quite immeasurable. And God wants you to be like God. Filled with life and goodness, laughter and joy.
“God, who is forever pouring out God’s whole being from all eternity, wants you to flourish. God wants you to be filled with joy and excitement and ever longing to be able to find what is so beautiful in God’s creation: the compassion of so many, the caring, the sharing. And God says, Please, my child, help me. Help me to spread love and laughter and joy and compassion. And you know what my child? As you do this – hey, presto – you discover joy. Joy, which you had not sought, comes as a gift, as almost the reward for this non-self-regarding caring for others.
I am constantly amazed how God’s gentle grace is given to each and every one of us, we just need to stop what we are used to doing sometimes and accept God’s love. Young children seem to have a great capacity to love and be loved – do we lose this God given gift or do we create a way of life that blunts the real meaning? During this period of change many messages from songs, books and readings can appear to take on a different meaning or relevance. Maybe its more time or a different experience that God is showing us The Way.
Back in 2015 the two amazingly humble religious leaders were communicating with great skill what really matters and during this period of challenge and change so many people are loving and being kind to their neighbours near and far through acts, thoughts and pray.
How will we use our recent experience to remain being kind to each other?
We pray God of the world for each and everyone your Will Be Done.