By Sister Jacqueline Goodin and Shirelle Boyd
We have so many ways to enjoy the Fourth of July, the day we remember the history of our independence and rejoice that we live in a democratic nation (despite past and current flaws and struggles). Whether we celebrate this national holiday with a picnic, at a family gathering, in the local parade, or with brilliant, booming fireworks, the theme of the day is “INDEPENDENCE”!
What if we turned this theme a tad up-side-down? What if we become more aware of our “interdependence”—in our neighborhoods, in our complex, diverse nation, and in our one global community? This takes us to a different place, doesn’t it?
It reminds me of the Bill Withers song, Lean On Me.
“Sometimes in our lives we all have pain
We all have sorrow
But if we are wise
We know that there’s always tomorrow
Lean on me, when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend
I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long
Till I’m gonna need
Somebody to lean on”
Working together to accomplish small tasks of everyday life can affect positive change in our lives and most importantly, the lives of others. We can become more intentional in our practice of living interdependently. Even with small, conscious acts of interdependence, our sphere of influence can be significant because we all live somewhere, we all worship in a community of faith, we all engage in the civic and economic arenas of modern society.
One way to practice interdependence is to appreciate the many, often nameless, persons with whom we come in contact on a daily basis. What would happen if we paid attention to the grocery store check-out clerk, the TSA official, the letter carrier, the library aide, the school crossing guard, the telephone customer service rep? Simple, sincere words such as “How is your day going? Busy today? Thanks so much for your help today. I appreciate how hard your job is” and so forth can help us realize that we are all in this together.
It just takes two minutes or less to look someone in the eye and express a real, sincere, brief greeting or inquiry as to his/her well-being. Can it be so hard to remember, or teach our children, a mantra of interdependence? “It costs us nothing to be nice to people.”
Initiating a warm smile as you pass a stranger on the street, going out of your way to give someone directions (or not being timid about asking for directions from someone after Siri leads you to a dead-end) and going above and beyond to help someone out of a desperate situation are all different ways we can dip our big toe into the pool of interdependence.
The belief that we are all one—the heart of Jesus’s Gospel and the heart of the Congregation of St. Joseph’s mission, impels us to be interdependent on one another and to take risks for the betterment of others. We are created to be our sisters’ keeper, just as our brothers are to be our keepers in times of trouble.
“Lean on us” the Congregation says, as women and men called to live the Gospel through the mission of “oneness.”
“Lean on us” we say to the survivors of human trafficking.
“Lean on us” we say to the young ones and the families who cross borders to escape violence, persecution, and poverty.
“Lean on us” we say to Mother Earth as we work to reduce the use of fossil fuels and plastic in our consumer society.
“Lean on us” we say to those who are imprisoned and are on Death Row.
“Lean on us” we say to those persons who are marginalized or victimized because of racism which still predominates in our national hearts and minds.
“Lean on us” we say to anyone who is “other” or “not like me.”
“Lean on us” we say our global sisters and brothers who live in poverty because we live with so much abundance.
“Lean on us” we say to you when you need hope or encouragement.
We are in this one Life together!
About the Authors
Shirelle Boyd is a wife and mother of two who enjoys teaching children and adults how to eat healthier. She fashions herself as a “food activist,” a supporter of growing and sustainability when it comes to the area of food.
Sister Jacqueline Goodin is a Clinical Social Worker who has traveled to Thailand, Tanzania (2010-14), and most recently Japan. She is an avid reader of mystery and detective stories. She will begin service in elected leadership to the Congregation in August.
Shirelle and Sister Jacqueline enjoyed intermingling their creativity and writing this blog in a spirit and practice of interdependence!