Understanding reverence

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One Sunday I was reminiscing about my time in Japan. I really came to love and admire parts of the Japanese culture and their small expressions to each other. I feel like the Japanese people were a good example of reverence.

There’s certain things you just don’t do in public in Japan. And there are certain things you are expected to do. While some may see these things just as customs, it seems all of these small things come together to create a sense of community and respect  people have for each other and the values they share.

After my time in Japan, coming back to America, surprisingly, I had a bit of culture shock. It was louder, more chaotic and people seemed to care less about each other and their community. While part of me always remembered Japan, after a while I slowly became re-Americanized, you could say.

It’s not that Japan is perfect; they have their own set of issues to deal with. But it did cause me to question everything about America and our culture. That’s the thing: I’ve come to realize that in America it’s not really a question of “our” culture but a question of “which” culture.

It’s interesting. Maybe I’m just getting older, but it increasing seems that as the music, movies, entertainment and news media get louder and louder, I’m more and more drawn in the opposite direction. I find myself enjoying more classical music, nature documentaries and thoughtful and quiet conversations.

Reverence seems like such a simple and small thing, but it also seems to affect the way we treat many things such as our body, mind, spirit, family, neighbors and community. It also seems to be connected to many valuable attributes such as humility, gratitude, awareness, discipline and ultimately love. Because of that it’s hard to put a delicate feeling or sense into words sometimes. Here is my try at it:

Reverence is realizing the delicate nature of love and life, and actually respecting and standing in awe of that delicate balance.

After much questioning I’ve found a sense of optimism for America. I believe many people here are willing to learn, innovate and improve for the better. I hope for the benefit of our communities and our future that we won’t undervalue or overlook profound yet simple things as cultivating reverence in our lives and in our communities.

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