Tuesday, November 20, 2012

...ubuntu to you

My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together. 
Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Everyone needs an empty chair. A reminder of those who have gone before us. Of those who are separated by physical distance. Or emotional gulfs. Of brief encounters with lasting memories. Of all who remain uninvited to the circle. A solitude that both comforts and afflicts.

Perhaps the table will be crowded this Thanksgiving with loved ones. Or perhaps not. Sometimes all the chairs are empty except for the one you occupy. This Thursday, Salute, the lovely waterfront restaurant five minutes away, will feed six hundred homeless people, a tradition that reaches more people each year. The Ethiopian-born owner, one of the most beautiful women I've ever encountered, once found herself alone with an infant son in a shelter in Italy. She vowed then that she would help others who needed help. Now the owner of the restaurant here where she first waited tables, she keeps her promise. And she would be the first - for all her diligence, discipline and dedication - to say that she is not self-made but the recipient of grace...a grace that flows through her like a mighty river and baptizes all she encounters.

One of the first people I met here, Menbe smiled and hugged and brought me into community. The nicest thing about her circle is that no one need apply nor bring a pedigree. For her, love and gratitude are active verbs. She has ubuntu. [Update for Thanksgiving 2013...an additional offering: "Salute will host a traditional Thanksgiving Dinner with Celebrity Waiters and White Table Cloth Service for those less fortunate in our community on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday November 28th from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm. In honor of our 10th Anniversary, we will give each attending disadvantaged family a coupon good for ten free meals to be redeemed at Salute e Vita Ristorante during the holiday season. A Health Fair will be set up in the parking lot with the help from our local medical professionals, registered nurses and doctors. Flu Shots and informational tables will be available.”]

Click on the link below for a wonderful peak at Menbere and her guests last year.
2012 Thanksgiving at Salute

[From Saving Civility by Sara Hacala] "Ubuntu is an African word that, while difficult to translate, is one whose meaning we should each know. I have heard it described 'I in you, you in me.' Archbishop Desmond Tutu translates ubuntu as 'I cannot be, without you.' He explains further, "When we want to give high praise to someone we say, 'Hey, so-and-so has ubuntu.' Then you are generous; you are hospitable; you are friendly and caring and compassionate. You share what you have. A person with ubuntu  is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole...a person is a person through other persons."

God bless our empty chairs. They point us to the compassion that loss can bring if we allow. To the promise of new relationships. To something bigger than ourselves, greater than narrow notions of "our own kind".

I invite you to listen to George Winston's Thanksgiving.

And send you



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