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Whose being inspires our walks in life?


Anglican Archbishop Emeritus and 1984 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Desmond Tutu, who led the South African Council of Churches to wake up the church and help bring the end to apartheid in South Africa, turned 90 on Oct. 7.

I walked beside him in a peace march at the World Council of Churches Assembly in Porto Alegre, Brazil, in 2006 when he was about the age I am now.

The Ecumenical Institute of the World Council of Churches at Bossey, the lab for ecumenical, interfaith, intercultural, interracial, intergenerational human interaction, just celebrated its 75th year.

In 1969-70, I studied about "The Future of the Church," and have been living into that future ever since. I was there again in 1996 for its 50th anniversary with Fig Tree Resource Directory editor Malcolm Haworth. During that visit in Europe, I took his senior picture near a castle.

In recent weeks, I have been taking the senior picture for my oldest grandchild, Tevita Fakasiieiki, son of The Fig Tree's development and editorial associate Marijke Fakasiieiki and editorial writer Ikani Fakasiieiki.

Along with taking pictures, I've been looking at photos of Tevita as a baby and through his growing years, enjoying how he is emerging into adulthood with a desire to make a difference in the world, to make people more loving, caring, truthful, peaceful and justice minded.

Not just my words, but words he has been sharing with our family.

I carry a bit of the spirit of Desmond Tutu's smile, laugh, warmth, humor and hope in my soul. His witness and words, his work to end racial separation and hate, inspire me. In the 1980s, I shared stories and joined in a boycott that was one of the requested actions of solidarity.

I carry with me the spirit and inspiration of the smiles, laughs, warmth, humor and hope from interacting with the 60 people from 40 countries who engaged their faith to challenge their societies to be more loving and just. One challenged the ultra-rich two percent who hoarded the wealth of Guatemala, keeping it from everyday people. Others challenged the Cold War East-West divisions and repression before the Berlin Wall fell. The witness of many inspired me to return to challenge the racial, economic and environmental inequities and injustices in my own land.

I also carry with me the spirit of Tevita, whose smile, laugh, warmth, humor and hope as a baby and growing person continue to fill my life and inspire me to persevere in trying to make the world a better place for all my grandchildren, for everyone's children, grandchildren and future generations.

Sometimes at milestones in life, we pause and take time to reflect on what has had impact on our lives and on what impact we hope we have had, have and will have on the lives of our families, our congregations, our communities, our countries and our world.

With the upcoming graduation and with interviewing people asking when they did what, I recently took time to recall my journey in time—when family members graduated, when family and I traveled, when I intersected with different people here and around the world.

Now I look forward to dates of grandchildren graduating and moving into the world to have their impact, because there is still much to be done on the ongoing journey of bending the arc of humanity toward living in justice and peace.

Whose smile, laugh, warmth, humor and hope inspires you, keeps you going, gives you meaning, challenges you to care, love, act and seek justice? How will we join with others to make our unique difference, our unique marks, our unique milestones for ourselves and for our world? Let us walk in solidarity.

Mary Stamp, Editor

Copyright@ The Fig Tree, November, 2021