I attended the funeral of a 63-year-old man recently. It was a beautiful ceremony, filled with testimonials about his life of service to God and others. During one especially touching moment, his three children came to the front and shared a letter that he had written to them recently. They respectfully read his reflections on his own life. He observed that he wished he would have slowed down a bit, and celebrated more of the relationships in his life. He also shared that he had spent much of his life thinking about “the next thing.” His words captured my attention, because this is the way that I have felt much of my life. I am sure you can identify.
Please understand me. This man was a wonderful man of God, who loved his family and served many in his community. He was not a failure by any means—more like a hero! Yet, as we hear so often, when looking back on his life, he realized that he would’ve made a few tweaks. Hundreds of us gathered to remember him and to learn from his example. We left committed to make important changes in our own lives.
As followers of Jesus, we know how important it is to relate to one another in healthy, meaningful ways. Scripture exhorts us to encourage one another, to spur one another on and to show true unity. Saint Paul wrote, “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3). Sure, it’s complicated. It’s not always easy to “keep the unity” with people who are annoying. We need Divine intervention.
There is a Kinyarwanda word, Turikumwe, which means “we are together.” Sometimes while working on a project around Hope Haven, surrounded by a group of other workers, I’ll smile at them and say “Turikumwe.” Rwandans often burst out laughing, because they aren’t used to a Mzungu identifying with their group in this way, but they love the sentiment. As we work on a shared project or vision, we are “together.”
May the word “Turikumwe” remind each one of us that we cannot do this alone—we desperately need relationships. This journey of life is so much better when we slow down and enjoy the company of those who travel with us!