In my spiritual formation program at Souljourners I recently sat listening to a talk about various religions and the effects of the Reformation movement. I was staring at the white board where the speaker had created a table and labeled the columns with the names of some religions, and then told us about certain aspects of each one that had been impacted by major events…all about five hundred years ago.
The goal was to show us how changes affect how we practice our religions, how after a while something gets stale, or in the words of another presenter…things begin to look a little funny. When that staleness happens, when we don’t like the way things are going, eventually we move and change how we do things.
There have been, and continue to be, many re-formations.
As I looked at that table drawn on the white board, I saw the labels attached to these different ways of practicing faith. I heard the descriptions telling the practices of each one. I became aware that many of the women and men in the room with me at this presentation came from some of these different groups. One group member made the comment that fifty years ago it would have been unheard of for a group such as ours to meet together, let alone meet at the monastery where we sat together that day. And that simple, wise observation had a great impact on me.
What I heard in my heart as I read the descriptions on the board was that in spite of those labels (man made labels) all the people in those groups have one thing in common: belief in the higher power we call God.
That is the common ground that I saw that day.
But there is more to this story.
You, my readers, know from following this blog for a while now, that I seldom, if ever, speak up about politics. And even given the events of this week I am not here to promote my own beliefs upon you or anyone else.
What I do want to speak to is the common ground that we share as human beings.
First, we all breathe air. I had to remind myself of that earlier today when all the stress of this week was really bothering me, and I was trying to rest. The only way I could get my mind off all of it was to remember simply to breathe. Breathe in and inhale all that love, then send out love when you exhale. Those words became my mantra.
We live beneath the same big sky. We stand on the part of the earth set aside as America. The same sun and moon light our nights and days. We are women, men, daughters and sons, mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, friends and strangers. We want so many of the same “things”, not all of them material. We may have families, we may be alone, we may be religious or not. We are all precious souls, and our lives are important no matter how we look, what we believe, how we vote, if we vote, where we live, our sexual orientation, our income, our military status, homeless or not.
Take away all the labels and look at each other.
Let’s think of what we have in common, and celebrate that. It’s a place to start. A place where healing can begin.