Thankful for the Gift of “WE”

What  do you get when you turn the “M” in “ME” upside down? Yup…you get a relationship in the word “WE.”

Today I am thankful I am for the gift of “WE.” This gratitude really started yesterday with a wonderful discussion group, followed by an uplifting worship service, and a productive Worship and Music committee meeting at Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church (where I serve as pastor with a fine group of folks). Then I drove home, spent some good time with my spouse and daughter, followed by a youth spaghetti supper and church auction at Trinity Lutheran Church (where my spouse serves as pastor with a fine group of folks).  We were both exhausted by bedtime, but it was a good tired–the kind that leaves you smiling and reflecting on the joys and blessings of the day.

Then, this morning I received a “Voice of the Day” quote in my e-mail in box from Sojourners that fit perfectly with my current thought of thanks-living. Let me share it with you:

“It has been said that there is no true person unless there are two entering into communication with one another. The isolated individual is not a real person. A real person is one who lives in and for others. And the more personal relationships we form with others, the more we truly realize ourselves as persons.”

–Kallistos Ware

Ware, born in England and raised in the Anglican tradition, is an Eastern Orthodox theologian who lectured at Oxford and is the author of many books and articles about the Orthodox Church. I find this quote compelling in its truth that we cannot truly realize ourselves through only our contact with our own self. We are created to be in relationship, and in the Judeo-Christian tradition we serve a relational creator. All one need do is read scripture to experience story after story of YHVH’s interaction with ordinary folks like us. It’s pretty cool stuff if you take the time to think about it.

It is so easy in 21st century North American culture to think primarily of “ME” and what constitutes one’s own needs and desires. Yet that is such a limited view of life. Consider the letter “M” itself. The openness is closed and downward. The “v” shape at the top pulls one inward and downward. The letter “W” is open and the “v” shape is inverted lifting upward and outward. Truly, “WE” is the “upside” of “ME.”

Likewise, when we are in relationship with others–be it family, friends, faith communities, or other groupings–life’s possibilities are wider and fuller. In recognizing, honoring, and interacting with others, real growth is possible. Life takes on rich meaning, layers, and textures. Not all relationships are pleasing or healthy, but all can be instructive and help foster greater understanding our ourselves, others, and the world.

Technology makes it possible to expand our relationships and broaden our horizons even more. Tonight, for example, I attended a church evangelism committee meeting via Skype. I also saw my mother’s face and heard her voice via the same technology. I connected with other friends, colleagues, and family members through e-mail, cell phone, and social networking. Oh, and I also spent good quality time with family members and friends face-to-face, too.

A solitary life may be a spiritual discipline for a few hearty souls called to such an ascetic life, but for me (and for most of the world) the “WE” of relationships is a gift for which we may truly be thankful. I am grateful for the gift of community, relationship, and the possibilities of moving from simply little ‘ol “ME” to wonderful “WE.”

What about “WE” do you value? What challenges are present in the experience of “WE”? What interaction with another person or people added meaning to your life today?

Photo by opensourceway used under Creative Commons License. Thanks!