1: honor or respect felt or shown: deference; especially: profound adoring awed respect
2: a gesture of respect (as a bow)
3: the state of being revered
4: used as a title for a clergyman (i.e., reverend)
Reverence (n.): late 13th century, from Old French reverence “respect, awe,” from Latin reverentia “awe, respect,” from revereri “to stand in awe of, respect, honor, fear, be afraid of; revere,” from re-, + vereri “stand in awe of, fear, respect,” from Proto-Indo-European wer-e-, suffixed form of root, wer- “to be or become aware of perceive watch out for” (related to: ward).
“The sympathy which is reverent with what it cannot understand is worth its weight in gold.”
Oswald Chambers (1874-1917, early twentieth-century Scottish Baptist minister and Holiness Movement evangelist and teacher, best known for the devotional “My Utmost for His Highest”)
“Pursue some path, however narrow and crooked, in which you can walk with love and reverence.”
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862, American essayist, poet, abolitionist, naturalist, tax resister, historian, and practical philosopher, known for living the doctrines of Transcendentalism, as recorded in his masterpiece, “Walden.”)
“Woman must not accept; she must challenge. She must not be awed by that which has been built up around her; she must reverence that woman in her which struggles for expression.”
Margaret Sanger (1879-1966, American birth control activist, sex educator, writer, and nurse)
“Democracy is not merely a form of Government. It is primarily a mode of associated living, of conjoint communicated experience. It is essentially an attitude of respect and reverence towards our fellow men.”
B.R. Ambedkar (1891-1956, Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, aka Babasaheb, Indian jurist, economist, politician, and social reformer, who inspired the Dalit Buddhist Movement, and who campaigned against social discrimination against the Untouchables, while supporting the rights of women and labor)
“An enlightened person strives to live a meaningful life, defined by their personal humility, joy, passion, and profound reverence for life.”
Kilroy J. Oldster (accomplished trial attorney, arbitrator, and mediator, also wrote, “Dead Toad Scrolls”)
“Why "revere" the unknowable? Why not find out what it is?”
Barbara Ehrenreich (b. 1941, American author and political activist who describes herself as “a myth buster by trade,” and has been called “a veteran muckraker” by The New Yorker; wrote the books, “Nickel and Dimed…” and “Living with a Wild God…”)
“If now in some ways I drink too much, it’s not that I lack a reverence for the world.”
Sheila Heti (b. 1976, Canadian writer and author of seven fiction and non-fiction books including the novel, best known for “How Should a Person Be?”)
“An enlightened person strives to live a meaningful life, defined by their personal humility, joy, passion, and profound reverence for life.” — Kilroy J. Oldster
In what ways do we show our reverence for life? And how often do we bow to the light in each other and to other living things? How do we honor our world?
In the Eastern Philosophy, people show their reference for each other by bowing in greeting, and also to the spirit of their ancestors. It’s not a custom we have in the West, per se. But, in the East, most people are traditionally acknowledging that they have the utmost reverence for The God Essence in that other person.
I learned a lot about these customs first-hand when I studied abroad in Taipei, Taiwan for a year as a student in college. Taiwan is nation that has many influences, not only Chinese, but from the Japanese, indigenous cultures, and from the business cultures of West.
I also learned a little of the Japanese culture when my daughter, Maya, was five years old she wanted to study the defensive martial art of Aikido. She was first introduced to it in elementary school, but then she wanted to go deeper into the tradition by going to dojo every Saturday.
As soon as we entered the bright and pristine studio, the energy changed and there on the wall was a picture of the Aikido’s founder, Morihei Ueshiba, who the Japanese called, “The Great Teacher.” We learned quickly that out of respect we were to bow to and honor the intention of the school and the spirit of its founder.
The act of bowing changed our moods, immediately. It humbled and slowed us down, and shifted our vibration so we could pay attention and learn.
As we proceeded slowly down the hall to the women’s dressing room, Maya and I would pass a man or two who were dressed in their hakama, the traditional uniform of Japanese samurai clothing. And when we passed these men, they would stop, yell a Japanese greeting, get on their knees, and bow to us.
The first time it happened, we were stunned that we were both being honored and greeted with such reverence by men who could acknowledge us in that way. The only appropriate response was for us to stop, close our eyes, and bow in gratitude for these men’s respect.
In the West, our tradition is not bowing. We do shake hands, and we do hug. But isn’t it appropriate in other ways to have daily reverence for all of life, to commit conscious acts of kindness as well as respect? Isn’t it appropriate to honor each other by saying good morning and greeting each other as fellow travelers with a smile, whether it be with a stranger, a child, an animal, or with the great wonders of nature, the cosmos, and Life itself?
We are living on one of the most exciting and challenging planets in the Universe, sojourners, and our life journeys are magnificent gifts! Continue to be in awe of your possibilities.
Written with Love, Tonya