Reverence – Where Did it Go?

We had the opportunity to attend a wedding in Indianapolis over the weekend for the son of some close friends. What a wonderful weekend of fun and a reminder of reverence. As I experienced the reverence this weekend, I realized reverence is something I seem to miss often these days. Where did it go?

When I speak of reverence, I mean this definition: honor or respect felt or shown.

Reverence isn’t missing, at least not entirely. I watched a young couple marry in the Catholic Church. The Catholic faith does not appear to have lost reverence in their churches, and it is a beautiful thing to experience. I watched this young couple treat each other and their families and friends with reverence. I watched friends of the couple treat the parents and families with reverence. I watched all of the guests treat this new marriage with reverence. I watched the bride’s father toast our service members, showing great reverence.

In one weekend, I experienced the reverence once experienced daily in many areas of our lives. We used to treat churches with reverence, even if we were only a guest. We used to treat our families with reverence and undying loyalty. We spoke of our military and flag with reverence. We used to treat Courts with reverence, a respect for the system. We used to always wear our “Sunday best” to any of these institutions. Now, experiencing true reverence seems rare.

When you consider that the primary definition of reverence is respect, maybe I find my answer. We are all guilty of failing to show true respect from time to time, and I am no exception. The news and social media are full of examples of disrespect, not to mention schools.  We seem to be drowning in disrespect much of the time.  However, this weekend served as a stark reminder of a day and time when respect was expected and given.

What I witnessed this weekend was a great deal of respect that was reminiscent of days I was afraid were gone. Many people from many different areas of this country, with widely separated belief systems, came together and respected one another.  Everyone enjoyed one another and the common goal of celebrating a new beginning – without thought to race, religion or politics.

This incredibly enjoyable experience really made me stop and do a bit of thinking about reverence and respect. It made me wonder if we all made a true effort to treat one another with true respect would this world look different? Maybe we could disagree without venom. Maybe we could help those who don’t believe the same way we do. Maybe we could be more forgiving and compassionate. Maybe we could do more to just be nice to one another.

I think it is a worthy experiment to try to be more aware of reverence and respect for one another. We won’t be successful on every attempt, but those successful attempts may make a world of difference in the life of another. We may also find new friends and strengthen relationships. We could strengthen our communities and our country. So, even minor success in joining this experiment is worthy. A little more reverence and respect is unlikely to hurt anyone, but continuing to avoid reverence and respect hurts everyone. I promise I will personally make an effort to act with more reverence and respect, and I hope you join  me.  Maybe each of us making a small difference will have a large impact on our lives and the lives of others.

Just as white light consists of colored rays, so reverence for life contains all the components of ethics: love, kindliness, sympathy, empathy, peacefulness and power to forgive.”  Albert Schweitzer

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