At Jody’s Celebration of Life on Saturday, I had a lovely image projected on the screen as people came in, and throughout the ceremony. Maybe twenty African boys, just about naked, were sitting on the ground in a circle, with their feet touching. A whole bunch of brown soles ringed the grassy centre. A friend of mine said that she’d seen the photo before. Yesterday, she e-mailed me the story behind the picture.
An anthropologist proposed a game to the kids in an African tribe. He put a basket full of fruit near a tree and told the kids that whoever got there first won the sweet fruits. When he told them to run, they all took each other’s hands and ran together, then sat together enjoying their treats. When he asked them why they had run like that, as one could have had all the fruit for himself, they said: “UBUNTU, how can one of us be happy if all the other ones are sad?” UBUNTU in Xhosa culture means “I am because we are”.
And so I am. Saturday was certainly a celebration of Jody’s life, but just as much it shone a light on our shared humanity. Retired people, young kids, pretty women, handsome men, ordinary-looking folks, outgoing humans, shy humans, husbands and wives, fathers and daughters … smiling, crying, laughing, joining in song, nodding in agreement as someone talked about Jody. All of it. All of us. To be celebrated.
Jody lives. She’s with me right now. And she’s entered the bloodstream of many folks, reminding them of love and fun and kindness, so that they can take their loved ones’ hands and run towards the shared prize.
Let’s keep doing that, shall we?