In a conversation about the death of Archbishop Desmond Tutu with my husband this morning, he shared a YouTube video of the Archbishop with the Dalia Lama. A joyous collection of warm and colourful images that give us a glimpse of the relationship between these two spiritual icons.
The conversation moves seamlessly from death to joy and back again. Half-way through the 2-minute video the interviewer asks what it is about their friendship with each other that allows them to have this kind of extraordinary joy. The response from both men is playful to start with. “He’s always troubling me” Desmond Tutu jokes.
They become more serious and reflective, even holding hands at one point. “He’s there for us as a beacon” Desmond Tutu adds with a tone of reverence. I was captivated by the intimate display of spiritual unity. Then, just as the short video ends, the Dalia Lama turns to Desmond Tutu and says with utter conviction:
“At the time of my death, I will remember you!”
The monumental power of these 10 words spoken with such humility delivers a profound emotional charge. A beautiful sentence made all the more impactful because of the sincerity with which it is offered. Surely there can be no greater honour bestowed from one human being to another, as a testament to their friendship?
I can think of people over the years that I have shared a similar bond with and I experience deep gratitude as they come to mind now. People who have challenged and strengthened me in equal measure. People who brought humour to soften an inner struggle and changed my way of thinking. People who helped me grow.
Perhaps a question to add to your year-end reflections? Who in your life would you say these ten words about?
You’ll find the video snippet here.
Rest in peace Archbishop Desond Tutu. Your work is done but your legacy lives on.