tonight was the graduation ceremony for the taku manawa human rights facilitation course i've completed. it was quite lovely, and well attended. lovely to catch up with chief human rights commissioner, rosslyn noonan, who is a treasure. it's so sad that she will coming to the end of her time at the commission soon - she's done such a fantastic job.
one of the best parts of the graduation was that we didn't just get a certificate, we also got a lovely pounamu necklace, with a koru engraved in it. it such a lovely momento, and i love the feel of pounamu against the skin.
i have another piece that isn't as nice looking as this one but still extremely valuable to me. i received it some years ago, when i gave a sermon at a unitarian church in ponsonby. i know i've written about this before, but it was such a powerful experience for me. i can't imagine there would be many faith groups that would allow someone from another religion to give a sermon as part of their weekly service, so i was really touched to be offered the opportunity.
then on top of that, they gave me the pounamu. it's a reminder to me of the power of sharing and acceptance, of the ability and willingness to see the good in others and to learn from them. it's a reminder of the warm feeling of being welcomed and made to feel special. and it's a reminder of beautiful old building in the heart of auckland.
this new piece will remind me of many things as well. it's hard to sum them all up in blog post. it will remind me of seven of the most powerful days of my life, sharing some amazing experiences and learning about the difficulties that so many people deal with on a daily basis. it will remind me of a group of people who give their all to serve their communities and try to improve the world around them in whatever way they can. it will remind me of loving and caring, of opening the heart and reducing the focus on self.
it will remind me to be strong and to keep fighting on behalf of those who need my support. it will remind me to be an ally, to listen carefully and to step aside when required. it will remind me that it isn't always my job to take up the fight: sometimes it's my job to make it easier for others to step forward and speak. it will remind to never give up, to never accept that "nothing" can be done.
it's a reminder of the inherent humanity and intrinsic value of each and every human being on the planet. it's a reminder that every effort made to be respect the differences of others and to cater to their needs can never be a wasted effort.
yes, this new pounamu is just as precious as the other one. the value lies not in their appearance but in the meanings they hold and the messages they give. i think today i have truly understood the meaning of taonga.