When visiting another country, I show my appreciation for ‹foreign› people and their culture by trying to thank, greet, and say goodbye to them in their language. I accept one part of the other, the unfamiliar, appreciatively into myself. Giving thanks creates a bridge from myself to the other. This applies in general, no matter in which language.
Asking also builds bridges, but somehow more inwardly, to myself. If you don’t know what you’re asking for, you don’t know who you are. Asking means being aware that you are in need and what you need, but you can’t do it alone. Asking acknowledges one’s own inadequacy, weakness, and neediness, and perhaps even lovingly appreciates this need. Inadequately self-sufficient, we need each other.
The deepest request is prayer. In prayer, I turn to an authority that embraces me and knows me inside out. In prayer, my request, like an inverted thanksgiving, is addressed to the unknown that sees me, recognizes me, and lets me participate. I find myself within a unity in which I can also give thanks.
‹Please› and ‹thank you› are connecting beings, relationship founders. They are the pillars of the bridges that stretche between you and me, between human beings and God. They may even be the ground on which peace is possible.
Image Sibylle Wissmeyer, Without Title, Acrylic on cardboard, 2017/18 Translation: Monika Werner