Living as One
There is great agitation in the world today; we in the United States are undergoing a change we did not expect nor wish. This international uproar is upsetting to all, questioning how we can survive in this topsy-turvy world. Eberhard Arnold writes: “Situated as we are in the midst of a world that is so terribly unpeaceful, we need constant nourishment for our inner life. In short, if we want to avoid suffering inward shipwreck in the storm of public opinion and chaos, then our hidden inner being needs daily the quiet haven of communion with God.”
We have to search for a harmonious outcome; we can only do this through sharing the love we give to ourselves and our families, offering this same love to those people we do not know. We share this world with everyone, rich or poor, black or white, young or old. Nobody owns this world. The only way that we can appreciate this is to open our hearts and minds to God’s reality. We are all his children; He loves us all equally. We should mirror this example and treat each other this way.
The upside of this is simple: going through these tough and trying times, we gain strength and endurance. Endurance brings forth character; and character, if allowed, leads to hope, hope for a better life, hope for a peaceful co-existence. Rose Kennedy has said, “Birds sing after a storm; why shouldn’t people feel as free to delight in whatever remains to them?”
One of my favorite spiritual influences is Henri Nouwen; through him I have learned and am convinced that prayer can help us. Prayer helps me see new paths and new lights in my life. I get to hear the birds singing in the trees, calling to each other, letting each other know that the feeders in my yard are full, and that I have placed baffles on the poles to slow down the greediness of the squirrels. I love the sound of the birds; these new melodies in the air help give me a new breath to my life, a breath coming from God.
I try my best to look into each person I meet. I do not judge whether they are worthy; this is not my function in life. My job is to welcome each person as an equal, as a brother or sister who is suffering through this life as I am. Together, we can overcome our difficulties and both succeed.
I am troubled when I read statements, such as the one by Josephine Baker, “One day I realized I was living in a country where I was afraid to be black. It was only a country for white people. Not black. So I left. I had been suffocating in the United States…” This was years ago; things have not changed.
We are allowing our governments to separate us; arresting and deporting people of color, who do not talk or look like us. I always ask, “Are not these my brothers and sisters also?” “Do they have to seek normalcy and freedom outside of the United States?” I fear that the country I love and its future are in grave danger of becoming like other empires that have failed through intolerance. I fear that my grandchildren will not enjoy the freedoms we have come to love.
I end with something Leo Tolstoy wrote: “I knew before that God gave life to humankind and desires that they should live; now I understand more than that. I understand that God does not wish people to live apart, and therefore he does not reveal to them what each one needs for himself; but he wishes them to live united, and therefore reveals to each of them what is necessary for all. I now understand that though it seems to people that they live by care for themselves, in truth it is love alone by which they live. He who has love is in God, and God is in him, for God is love.”