Living up to your own words

Currently I am reading Tutu Authorized by Allister Sparks and Mpho Tutu.

Although it is early in the book, I predict I’ll have more than one post about this book’s impact on me.  In fact, I believe Archbishop Tutu is becoming one of my life teachers.  I may never meet him in person, but after reading one of his books and this book about him, there’s much to emulate and much to learn.

The author, Allister Sparks, tells of a former mayor renouncing his Anglican membership when Desmond Tutu was named the new Bishop.  Sparks, a journalist and lapsed Anglican, wrote “a two-sentence rejoinder, which I faxed to the editor of the Star saying that I, an ex-editor of one of the city’s leading newspapers and a lapsed Anglican who had turned my back on the church because of the vacuous ritualism of so many of its white clergy who for years had nothing meaningful to say in the face of the great moral challenges facing the country, was going to rejoin the church now that it had elected a bishop who was prepared to speak truth to power.”  p. 18  Humorously, only on the next day when the front page of the newspaper quoted him did Sparks realize he had to live up to the off  the cuff reaction.

To sweeten the deal he invited George Mxadan to bring his Soweto choir, Imilonji KaNtu, to sing Ntsikana’s Great Hymn, Ulo Thixo omkhulu.  (Smithsonian Folkway recording)  The lyrics to the him by the Xhosa spiritual leader Ntsikana are:

Thou are the great God – the one who is in heaven.
It is thou, thou Shield of Truth,

it is thou, thou Tower of Truth,

it is thou, though Bush of Truth,
it is thou, thou who sittest in the highest,
thou are the creator of life,
thou madest the regions above.

The creator who madest the heavens also the maker of stars and the Pleiades –
the shooting stars declare it unto us.
The maker of the blind, of thine own will didst thou make them.
The trumpet speaks – for us it calls,
thou art the Hunter who hunts for souls.
Thou art the Leader who goes before us,
thou art the Great Mantle which covers us.
Thou art he whose hands are wounded;
thou are he whose feet are wounded;
thou are the whose feet are wounded;
thou are he whose blood is a trickling stream-and why?
Thou are he whose blood was spilled for us.
For this great price we call,
for thine own place we call.

Allister Sparks lived up to his own words some 30-40 years ago, and today I am blessed because he didn’t just sound of quickly to injustice but lived up to his own words.   I’ll never know Mr. Sparks, but the ripples of his choices and tellings motivate me to live up to my own words.


One thought on “Living up to your own words

  1. Yes indeed, what would it look like if we had the courage to live up to our words of faith, commitment, belief? What does it take for us to live undivided between our values and our actions?

    John Fenner
    Director of Courage & Renewal Programs for Clergy and Congregational Leaders


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