Reverence, Revered and Respect

“Let parents then bequeath to their children not riches but the spirit of reverence.”
― Plato

“Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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(how pure is white / Julie Cook / 2015)

I was driving to town today when the cars in front of me suddenly began pulling over to the side of the road.
I wondered if an ambulance was approaching as I also began rapidly slowing down while making my way to the edge of the road.

The lead car of the approaching procession was one of the local police.
Following close behind was a solemn black hearse and behind that was a long line of cars with their hazard lights all flashing.

Those of us on the opposite side of the road, the now growing yet stopped line of on-coming traffic, waited patiently and respectfully until the funeral procession passed us by.

I am always greatly moved when I happen to find myself on the road when such a sad and somber processional of cars rambles by—well wishes and prayers are silently sent to those passerby’s on their way to a rite of passage full of difficult farewells.

Incidents like the one this morning always bring to mind a memory I hold of a similar time of respectful observance. It was several years ago when I was visiting Cortona, Italy. My aunt and I had wandered into the local Pharmacia. Italian pharmacies are truly experiences steeped in decorum and order. . .which is such a contrast in a country known for its unexplainably chaotic traffic as well as its passionate and unrestrained emotions.

As we were wandering about the store, looking at a display of the cutest sandals of all things, the lights in the store were suddenly turned off as the sales lady reverently crossed herself as she moved toward the door in order to shut it. She held her finger up to her lips, hushing the now curious patrons inside, before turning her attention back to what was soon to be passing by the store.
And that’s when we all saw it.
Along the ancient cobbled stone road a white hearse slowly made it’s way through the small medieval town followed by a long line of mourners who were marching silently behind.

As soon as the funeral caravan had passed, the door was reopened, the lights popped back on and it was business as usual.

When it comes to our dead and dearly departed, it appears that both respect and reverence are deeply rooted and widely universal.
And yet I am bewildered by the lack of such which we woefully fail to show, demonstrate or deliver to the living, our fellow human beings.

Sitting on the side of a small town’s road, as a local funeral procession snakes its way to a countryside cemetery, my thoughts turn from this current scene of respect and reverence to one of tragic disrespect. . .to the very real and raw emotions, coupled with the agonizing questions now swirling around a signal sinister act, in a sister state’s colonial coastal city. . .

A gunman walks into a church in Charleston
A gunman walks into an elementary school in Connecticut
A gunman walks into a youth camp in Norway
A gunman walks into a museum in Tunsia
A gunman walks into a classroom at Virginia Tech
A gunman walks into a publishing office in France
A gunman walks into a synagogue in Denmark
A gunman walks into a mosque in Wisconsin
A gunman walks into a hospital in Germany
A gunman walks into a school in Colorado

On and on and on it goes.
The disrespect of the lives of those who are innocent, fall away one by one.
Lives disregarded as easily as discarded trash, taken for granted and considered expendable.
Lost in the chaos of twisted, broken, evil and hate filled minds. . .

Sterile
Immune
Safe
Exempt
Sacred
Off limits
Protected

Nothing seems to remain as it appears we have lost all respect for the sacred, the holy, the young, the old. . .even losing our reverence for both life and death. . .

Show proper respect to everyone, love your fellow believers, fear God, honor the emperor.
1 Peter 2:17

Give to everyone what you owe: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.
Romans 13:7

“Trust Yourself….”

“Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life. Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement.”
Golda Meir

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(Photograph: Botanical Garden/ Callaway Gardens/ Pine Mt., Georgia/Julie Cook/2013)

If you are unfamiliar with the author of today’s quote, Golda Meir, may I recommend further reading–as her story is most fascinating as well as inspiring. Born in the Ukraine in 1898, with an eventual emigration to the US by age 10, her family settled in Wisconsin. Golda attended a teachers college earning a degree which afforded her a career as an educator in the public school system.

In 1915 Golda joined a Zionist youth movement, she married and eventually moved to a Kibbutz in Palestine in 1921 where she continued work as a teacher. By 1924 she and her husband moved to Jerusalem. We must remember that at this time in our history there was no “official” Jewish State, no Israel as we know of today.

The area surrounding modern day Jerusalem had been under British control, being known as a Mandate State, issued by the League of Nations. Great Britain was chosen to serve as a “protectorate” of the people of what would become modern day Israel. It was the general consensus of the League of Nations, who believed the Jewish people of the region had a rightful, historical and ancestral “place” in the Arab dominated region which was an area surrounded and dominated by great instability–much as we see today—with kings and princes of Arab nations all jockeying for power and control. Familiar names such King Abdullah of Jordan, the grandfather of the current Jordanian king, acting as one of the areas more powerful figures.

For nearly the next 50 years Golda was heavily involved in the governing of what would eventually become modern day Israel working as an Ambassador to the Soviet Union, trade and labor union’s leader and eventually leader of the State. In 1969, at the age of 71 she was elected to serve as the world’s only 3rd female Premier (female World leader) as well as Israel’s 4th only Premier. She earned the name “iron lady” well before the British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, would earn the same title. It was due to Golda’s steely determination which she exhibited during momentous crises and surprise attacks and brutal wars.

I think Ms Meir’s quote used today is most fitting giving her own life’s journey.
She was a woman who quietly began an assent to leadership just as women in the United States were given the right to vote. She lived and worked in one of the world’s most tenuous regions of instability that continues to be equally fragile to this day. She was a woman who, at the time, was expected to marry being a quiet supporter of her husband and of his career. And yet she decided at an early age to fan her own flames of possibility and potential.

May we all be inspired by the same desire of achievement and determination noting that possibilities abound for us all, no matter of our start in this life—some of us just have to work much harder at it but we should never be deterred. Trust yourself and go after those dreams with gusto…Happy Wednesday