Monday, January 22, 2018

Life Together

Uganda taught me something this week. I was under a table working with two Ugandan friends to attach the table top to the legs with metal brackets. I had a big drill in one hand, a screw in another and with my pinky I was trying to keep the bracket in place while leaning on my elbow at an awkward angle. I pushed hard and tried to hold everything in place but the twist of the drill caused the screw to wobble and I dropped it. I dropped a screw. In unison, both Ugandan men sighed, "ohhh, ohhh, sorry". I looked at them and saw they were still holding down the top and focused on the work. I started laughing and remembered how other Ugandans have done similar things when I've bobbled something or slipped or tripped, even in the most minor of ways. "Ohhh, ohhh, sorry!" That little moment with the dropped screw sparked a long conversation about the differences in our cultures. I told them I noticed their audible concern and I asked why they both acted that way. Their response: "We live our lives together in Africa. When something happens to you, it also happens to us." This concept is consistent with everything I've learned about Africa during our time living here. America tends to value a life based on what is accomplished. Africa seems to value a life based on how it's connected to other lives. The dropped screw led to a conversation about how communities work together to mourn the loss of loved ones. I was fascinated by the conversation that ranged from a bobbled screw to a lost loved one but remained centered on the "life together" thread. From the smallest moments to the largest, life is lived together. All real living is meeting. I hope that this table is a place of meeting where connection occurs in every moment of life, from the smallest to the largest. 
How can you connect with someone today? Regardless of the size of the event or the magnitude of the moment, every step of life is an opportunity to join in the journey of someone else. 

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