One of my coworkers often greets me by saying, “Good morning, Ms. N. How are we?” The first time she asked me this I gave my automatic response as if I didn’t find it odd that she used “we” instead of “you.” I thought but refrained from asking, “Why did you use ‘we?’ That doesn’t sound right!” “Are you jokingly playing with grammar or something?”
Thankfully I withheld these comments; and, with time I saw the depth in her unusually phrased question. I began to understand “How are we?” as an invitation to consider how my feelings were affecting, and were affected by others.
The different communities in which I live and breathe shape who I am. The simple question, “How are we?” reminds me of my identity: created in the image of God, in the image of a Trinitarian relationship as revealed in Genesis 1:26. “Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness’…” (NRSV) God said, “our image,” rather than “my image,” and so, I know that I am created in the image of a relationship. Similarly, I am also called to be in relationships—first with God and then with the people I encounter, or my “neighbors” (Mt 22:37-39).
The question, “How are we?” could mean how are you and God, or how are you and your neighbor, or how are you and your family, or how are you and the community you serve. The people with whom I work, study, and fellowship influence me, and in turn my words, expressions, and choices impact them as well. Through a prayerful and an intentional focus on relationship, I shine the light of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, in the image of whom I am created. I pray that I first consider my relationships, especially my relationship with God, as I prioritize and make decisions each day.
“He said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matthew 22:37-39 NRSV).