Sankofa, 눈 웃음, and Ubuntu

 © 2014 Traci Smith

© 2014 Traci Smith

Three words were the heart of today’s sermon. Each word is a word that is not easily rendered back in to English with just one word. Today’s sermon felt very personal to me and I shared a lot of thoughts in a different way than I normally do. Hope you enjoy reflecting on these three words with me as well.
The first, sankofa, means “to reach back and get it.” I heard of this concept when researching the meaning behind of The Fray’s compelling song Run for your life.  It turns out that the song is based on the idea that, as the lead singer of the Fray says “If your village burns down, go back to it and pick through the ashes and find anything good and then take it with you and leave and never look back.” ​I’ve been thinking about that a lot this week how, first, it’s hard to go back to the ashes in the first place, to confront tragedy and try and pick out meaningful pieces to take with us. But then, the opposite is true, too, that sometimes once we find something in the ashes of tragedy, we aren’t able to “leave and never look back.” Isn’t it true that we are drawn, sometimes, to return to the same ashes over and over again, hoping that there will be more there, when all the treasure is gone. Sankofa.
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The second, 눈 웃음 is the shape that your eyes make when you are smiling and laughing. When I talked about this today, I told some stories of cute things that kids have said about things like kissing and romantic love. So sweet, so endearing and so very guaranteed to make your eyes make that semi-circle, archy, crescent shape either through laughter or smiles. One of my favorites is this one little girl’s answer to the question “what is romantic love?”  Sarah, age 9 said, “Romantic adults are usually all dressed up, so if they are wearing jeans it might mean that they used to go out… or that they just broke up.”  My other favorite was Camille’s strategy for making someone fall in love with you. Camille is also 9, and she says “Shake your hips and hope for the best.” Did you feel your eyes do it?   눈 웃음
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The third thing I talked about this morning is ubuntu. The idea that we our common humanity both sustains us and also makes us responsible for each other. “Humanity is a quality we owe to each other. We create each other and need to sustain this otherness creation. And if we belong to each other, we participate in our creations: we are because you are, and since you are, definitely I am. The ‘I am’ is not a rigid subject, but a dynamic self-constitution dependent on this otherness creation of relation and distance”
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Sankofa. 눈 웃음, ubuntu.  What do you think? 
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For further reading/watching 
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Run for Your Life, by the Fray. Story of the song HERE. Studio version HERE. Live acoustic HERE.
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