"Each of us has a place in this world. Taking that place, I have come to feel, is our real job as human beings. We are not generic people, we are individuals, and when we appreciate that fact completely and allow ourselves to embrace it and grow into it fully, we see that our unique place in this world is the one thing that gives us a sense of ultimate fulfillment.

"Bantu tribesmen, it is said, sneak into the rooms of their children as they sleep and whisper in their ears, 'Become what you are.'

"To take our place is to mature, and to grow into what we are. Mostly we take maturity for granted, as if it were something that comes quite naturally and completely as our bodies grow and our minds and hearts fill up with life experience. In fact, however, few of us are truly mature individuals; few of us really occupy our places. We are merely living out a dream of maturity, a set of received notions and images that passes for adulthood. What does it really mean to grow up? How do we do the work that will nurture a truly mature heart from which can flow healing words and deeds? Each of our lives depends on our undertaking the exploration that these questions urge us toward. And the mystery is that the whole world depends on each of us to take this human journey.

"Taking our places as mature individuals in this world is not work we can do alone. We need others to help us, and we need to help others. For true maturity can never exist self-contained; it is relational, for we are relational beings, co-created each moment with what we come in contact with. Because we change, because we are open to and affected by the world, maturity must involve our capacity to know and love others."