In his book The Healing Wisdom of Africa, Malidoma Somé writes,
…there are two things that people crave: the full realization of their innate gifts, and to have these gifts approved, acknowledged, and confirmed. There are countless people in the West whose efforts are sadly wasted because they have no means of expressing their unique genius.
Malidoma calls himself a “reverse missionary.” His people—the Dagara of Burkina Faso—were taught Christianity from Jesuit missionaries. His purpose is to share the wisdom of indigenous teaching and community with Westerners. This quote is a reflection of that wisdom. The Dagara understand that
- we ALL have gifts
- these gifts come into the world with us when we are born
- the purpose of these gifts is to maintain the well being of the community
- every human being longs to deliver their gifts and to have these gifts acknowledged
If this is true, we cannot promote and affirm the inherent worth and dignity of anyone unless we are able to acknowledge and receive their gifts. Centering in gifts is a vital practice for human well being and wholeness. This is true for individualsand the community as a whole. Our gifts are not for us—they are meant to build, maintain, and restore the community. The community needs us to deliver our gifts so it can be vibrant and strong. And we need the community to help us identify our gifts, show us where those gifts are needed, and to receive our gifts.