The car in the parking lot sported at least six bumper stickers. One in particular caught my eye. It said: God bless everyone. No exceptions.
Not everyone buys into that sentiment. “We are loved by God, and worthy of blessing. Sorry. You’re not.”
That idea has been around since people formed religions and decided who is in and who isn’t.
Scientists, working in quantum theory in our day, point out that everything is part of the whole and all things are connected in some way. Theologians of many faith traditions are finding buried deep in their religion’s core beliefs that connectedness is also a foundational concept, and that somehow, over centuries of one-upsmanship, separation became the norm. People began to treat one another as not being related at all. In the United States, where community was essential to our founders, today’s culture has moved us back to individualism. My way. When my way is respectful of others, there is hope of communication, and finding ways to bridge separateness. But the task requires our uncompromising attention.
Let’s talk about Christianity, because we know it best. In Christianity, God is love. God loves us unconditionally. In God there is abundant compassion - no violence, no discrimination. Or as Paul puts it in Ephesians: “In Christ Jesus, there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave or free, male or female. All are one in Christ.”
How do we bring connectedness, compassion and no discrimination into our consciousness? To begin, we need to appreciate that God is love, non-violent, welcoming of us, desirous that we all be one with God’s very self. It means that we try to look at other people with new eyes, walk around in their shoes, change our language when we speak of God and other people. Language represents a worldview. What’s your worldview? Hierarchical, community-based, one that recognizes our connectedness with all of creation? Is it rooted in unity without uniformity?
Appreciating the efforts, struggles of others, understanding their hopes and fears are all part of the work of acquiring the consciousness we need to work at being more united with God.
At the same time that we learn to appreciate the connectedness we are learning to see, we need to participate in the work of becoming one with the universe – people and nature as well as with God. Find like-minded people and learn from each other this important lesson.
Finally, believing that we are one more profoundly than we are separate, we begin to promote that way of living by allowing our new consciousness to be seen by others, in the way we treat people and the earth with reverence, humor, gentleness, and care.
This may sound abstract. To try to live this way is the only way we can test its worth as a way of living our faith more profoundly. We might even find that we like it, sleep better at night, and are full of wonder at the goodness, beauty and web of life we are part of.
~ Sister Joan Sobala