We lost many people in 2021 who led exceptional lives. One of the most notable losses was Desmond Tutu, Archbishop of South Africa. He, along with Nelson Mandela, helped lead their country forward after the dark years of Apartheid. Tutu went on to become an admired and revered figure worldwide.
I remember hearing this account during a sermon by a former priest at Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Winchester. I recalled it again today. It is regarding an encounter between Trevor Huddleston, an Anglican priest serving in South Africa, and the young Tutu and his mother:
“Huddleston befriended Tutu when the young boy was sick with tuberculosis and became a mentor to him for many years. In an early encounter with Huddleston, Tutu recalls the priest tipping his hat at Tutu’s mother. Tutu was indelibly impressed. It was the first time he had seen a white man raise his hat to a black, working-class woman.” –Daily Maverick, South Africa, December 26, 2021
Recently a friend and I discussed encounters with individuals during our many years as helping professionals. He told me of grocery store conversations with people he remembers from many years prior, and those he barely remembers. Inevitably, the person shares an account of the help they received when needed from my friend.
He continues to remind me that we seldom see the outcome of the seeds we sow, but what a joy it is when we do.
So my wish for you in 2022 is that we approach others whose paths we cross with kindness, dignity, and respect. Because we never know when the encounter with us can be life-changing.
Happy New Year!