When my eldest kid was graduating high school, we kicked into high gear to spruce up the house so it would look nice for an open house. Of course, instead of ticking off projects a little at a time over the year, we crammed everything into the last two months, including a re-painting of every common area in the house. That’s when I enthusiastically ordered my wall art I always wanted: ubuntu. Intentionally placed above the entry to the dining room where food serves to unite all people (Mama K loves to cook!), ubuntu can be spotted as soon as visitors walk in my front door. I wanted it to be something welcoming, something comforting, something that sparked conversation. “What does that mean?” a visitor would say…and from there we would launch into deep and meaningful conversation over fine libations. I wanted ubuntu to be something that let people who entered our home know how we are in the world. Hopefully, it would not only be something they saw on my wall, but something felt as they entered my home. You see, ubuntu is a Xhosa and Zulu word meaning something like: “I am because you are,” or “I am who I am because of who we all are.” Basically, it’s a philosophy of being…of being connected, of being aware, of being one with humanity. It’s a beautiful thing to hang in a home, no?
Yeah. Most days around here feel disconnected, hectic, and occasionally lonely. We have two teen-age boys, one almost-teen girl, and an adult son who comes in and out. Most meals around the table are short (hey, at least we dine together), most evenings one kid or another has work, has practice, or is under a self-imposed sequestration. It is ironic that I LOVE teenagers, like actually like them…and yet it’s the most trying and difficult age span to parent. It’s pretty tough when then ones you love seem to be programmed to despise you for a span of about six years. I mean, really, what kind of design is that?!?
As much as my family is developing into very different people. . . we ARE because of each other. I am not “mom” without them. I am not “Mama K” without the others they bring into our home. I am because the world is. Ubuntu is the very force that underlies everything we do.
P.S. Only after I ordered and stuck ubuntu to my wall did I learn it’s also a computer operating system. Well, there you go! This is now a sign that satisfies my computer-programmer spouse AND me. See? Ubuntu really is a unifying concept!