Upon news of my sabbatical, I received a wonderful message from a colleague overseas. In it, he shared a word to describe this lifelong journey of mine. He said it was my “Ubuntu” — a Zulu word from South Africa. It has no direct English translation. Instead, it embodies a variety of explanations. In short, it means “humanity.” It is used to describe the quality of a person — their spark, their joy, their outlook, their inherent goodness and spirituality. One’s Ubuntu is also how he or she interacts with colleagues, family, friends and even perfect strangers.
What a wonderful word!
Even better, I received this message the day before I attended my an annual Silent Retreat with my husband. This yearly pilgrimage, and 40 hours of silence (aside from prayer time and when I accidentally starting singing a Christmas Carol Sunday morning 😊) without my phone or smart devices around, was a great time to reflect on my Ubuntu. Silence is a powerful tool to re-energize, to get clarity on the important things in life, to reflect on time spent as well as prioritize for the road ahead.
Speaking of roads, there is a lovely walking trail where we spend our Silent Retreat with inspiring spiritual signs along the way. No matter how often I walk this trail, the one that stands out the most to me is the “Slow” sign behind “Eternal is his merciful love.” I’ve shared this before….but it’s that combination of messages that is exponentially powerful in my eyes. And this year it was equally important in reflecting on my Ubuntu (humanity).
You see, as much as we work hard, plug in, move fast and try take the world by storm in our own small way, I am reminded that someone else is all-knowing, all-seeing, all-loving and in complete control of the situation. It’s nice to slow down and be told as much.
As we near the end of 2019, many of us will take time to mentally recall the events of the past 12 months. Nowadays, Facebook will even create a year-in-review slideshow for you! But I urge you to slow down in scrolling through your life so quickly. Instead, I encourage you to think about your own incredible and individual qualities that carried you through all of those experiences. Do so in silence, and maybe you too will come to see how incredible your Ubuntu is in making you the unique and special person you are today. I also invite you to download my free Create Your Culture Workbook to help along the way.
The Zulu language may be foreign to me, but my understanding of my Ubuntu is now much deeper and very near and dear to my heart. And with one more Silent Retreat behind me, I have greater clarity for where I am going as well.
[Note: During my sabbatical, I will not be replying to activity across social media. But I wish you the very best this holiday season.]