February is Black History Month. I think I’ve mentioned before that I work at an agency that predominantly works for those of Asian and Island Pacific descent, but we also help Hispanics, Caucasions and African Americans. We routinely celebrate Asian-centric holidays like the Lunar New Year for instance. I’m one of the two Caucasians in my office and these celebrations are so beautiful, educational and interesting for me to be a part of. We’ve never had a celebration for Black History Month. Until this past week.
Our lone African American co-worker along with a Tongan co-worker, put together a wonderful luncheon and invited all of our clients. We had a retired professional piano player tickle the ivory while a professional singer and also minister sang a couple of songs. They even led us in singing as a group. The singer saved one of my favorites to end on: Amazing Grace. The song gets me every time. I connected the most with this celebration. It was touching and inspiring.
The last thing in the program before lunch was a “Blessing of the food.” We learned that “Soul Food” is described that way not because of its specific ingredients, but more because what food they had, they prepared with their hearts and souls to provide for their family, usually gathered at Grandma’s house on Sundays.
I like this idea of putting my soul into the food I’m preparing for my family and me, whether it’s something very simple or a special dinner. I’m turning my Sundays into Soul Full Sundays. I want to focus on doing things that nurture my soul.
So today, I lingered over the morning newspaper then went outside to a beautifully sunny late morning and ran. And I enjoyed every moment, every breath, every foot in front of the other. One interesting thing happened when I was out meditating in motion today. A woman was on a bike built for an adult with an attached bike for a child. She and her son were out riding around and I heard her say, “that’s what mommy needs to be doing.” She came up alongside me and asked me how many days a week I run (4), how many miles (try to keep under 30), do I run marathons (I used to but now I’m taking a break for health reasons). Then she said this: “well, you look fantastic!” I shot back, “You look great, too!” Even though I said thanks, my first inner response was, “yeah, right,” and I proceeded down the usual litany of why what she said was bullshit.
And then I caught myself. Why can’t I accept a compliment? That’s when I decided that Sundays would be for working on my soul and let myself enjoy that stranger’s compliment. I let her compliment propel me while I finished my run. My goal is to give gracious compliments while also graciously receive them.
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
What do you do to nurture your soul? I’d love for you to join me in graciously receiving compliments and maybe even giving yourself compliments.