Sunday, May 27, 2007

It Really Does Take A Village

"It takes a village to raise a child" is thought to be am Africam proverb. Most of us are more familiar with it as the title of Hillary Clinton's book. I do believe that it takes a village to raise a child, but I believe it also takes a village to raise an adult, a family, a community, a nation, a world. Nobody can walk the path of life alone. By nature, we are communal beings. I will be the first to admit that I like to think that I can do it on my own, but truthfully, I know I can't.

Today's New Testament reading is from 1 Corinthians. It reads as follows:

1 Corinthians 12:4-13
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit;
and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses. For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.

The simplest reading of this passage assures us that we all have gifts and that in the eyes of God, all these gifts are equal because they are all given by the same God. To me, this is the "warm and fuzzy" reading. I think that there is a deeper, and perhaps more demanding, interpretation of this passage.

Rather than see it as saying that our personal gifts are what is valuable, the more important message is that the gifts of all those around us are just as valuable as ours, and are just as necessary for us all to live happily Why make this distinction? As much as we hate to hear it, human beings are self-centered. We like to think that we are the best at whatever we need to be the best at at any given time. It takes humility to admit that someone else may have the needed gift, not me..

We concluded the run of The Laramie Project today. For many reasons, working on this show was an awesome experience. As the cast and crew gathered for our final circle together before the performance this afternoon, much was said about the community that grew up amongst us all. The cast was gracious to the crew, acknowledging that though we were not the ones on stage, the gifts that we brought to the overall production were as necessary as those of the actors. The show would not have happened without lights, sound, costumes, props, and actors. Any error or oversight by anybody would affect the entire group. I guess that this is a manifestation of the butterfly effect. In addition to a big dose of humility, trust is also an integral factor within any "village." We must admit that others have valuable gifts and that we trust them to share so that all shall benefit. This is easy to say and hard to do.

A little closer to home, while I was at the theatre this afternoon for the show and then strike, BK was at my house preparing for the graduation party that we are having for Brooke tomorrow. She did all of the food prep that could be done in advance. Mike made a last minute run to the grocery store. Except for buying regular tofu instead of silken, he did his part as well. John fixed the sticking flap in the toilet and my dad played frisbee with the dogs. We were all doing what we needed to be doing at the time.

Sometimes it is the little things and at other times it is the big things in life that make all the difference. Sometimes we are called upon to share our gifts and sometimes it is our friend or a stranger who is called. And sometimes, the greatest gift that we can give is that of humility and trust. Be aware of the call that you are being given: offer what you are called to give not what you want to give. More often than not, there is a difference.

Our Families, communities, nations, and the world would be a much happier place if we could see the value of every human being and respect one another.