The South African cleric and human rights activist, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, has said he can tell within five seconds if somebody he meets practices ubuntu. Ubuntu is a Zulu word meaning, “I am because we are.” People with ubuntu are sure of themselves and, at the same time, open and available to others. No one is higher or lower than another. Everyone meets on the common ground of the heart.
The practice of coming together in shared grief and compassion and finding joy in the process is the mission of Radical Joy for Hard Times. Visiting hurt places, we open up to our feelings of loss. United in our love of place, we create beauty for the place out of natural materials the place itself offers. Political and racial differences cease to matter. The place itself and our love for it draw us together.
These days, the whole world is a wounded place, with coronavirus leaving people everywhere sick, bereaved, jobless, homeless, and bereft of dreams.
RadJoy invites the world to come together on January 10, 2021 for a Global Day of Mourning, to acknowledge the losses of COVID-19 and find gratitude, compassion, and joy together. Other gatherings have taken place already; ours joins that movement and extends it across the Earth. The collaborative Mourning Into Unity, for example, has been offering vigils to “share unvoiced grief.” One participant, Rev. Ed Bacon of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Atlanta, told NPR reporter Tonya Mosley that coming together to mourn is a way of de-escalating the polarization that has so harmed the United States: “I believe that when our loudest national leadership voices are not promoting unity, it falls on the shoulders and the hearts of all of us citizens to step up and express our own leadership and come together and unify.”
RadJoy is honored that St. Luke’s joins our other partners in ecology, spirituality, and sustainability to support the Global Day of Mourning. This is a day when we can all practice ubuntu.

Trebbe Johnson
Trebbe JohnsonFounder
Trebbe is the author of The World Is a Waiting Lover and 101 Ways to Make Guerrilla Beauty. Her new book, Radical Joy for Hard Times: Finding Meaning and Making Beauty, will be published in Fall 2018 by North Atlantic Books. Her articles about people’s emotional and spiritual relationship with nature have appeared in Orion, Sierra, Ecopsychology, The Ecologist, The Nation, Harper’s and other magazines. She lives with her husband, Andrew Gardner, in rural northeastern Pennsylvania, a region currently under exploitation by natural gas companies.


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Radical Joy Revealed is a weekly message of inspiration about finding and making beauty in wounded places.