As an introvert, I “recharge” via solitude. During the week, I try to make at least one trip away from the apartment to collect myself and get energized. Normally, I go back to SMU and walk the prayer labyrinth at the theological school I attended, but this trip I wanted to be by moving water.
Part of this had to do with SMU being a lively campus, and the fountains help drown that out. Another part of me finds water sounds soothing and meditative, so I plopped down on a bench next to the memorial fountain by Dallas Hall and read a chapter of Proverbs. After reading, and moving because the sprinklers kicked on, I sat on the edge of the fountain, closed my eyes, and contemplatively meditated.
Several things came up, but the most profound teaching was that of the “oneness” of all things. This has been painted as a New Age idea, but it’s actually a teaching that has existed in one form or another since humans first started contemplating their existence. I saw that all the “barriers” that exist between people, between humans and God, and between us and the rest of the natural world are all false.
In my own Christian-centered language, I came back to the idea of the Breath of Life. It exists in all creatures, human and non-human alike (Genesis 7:22). It is a gift from the Divine (Genesis 2:7), and is therefore a universal connection between all living beings and God. All things are loved and sustained by whatever it is we call this Energy, this Presence, this Life.
With that in mind, all our hierarchy and power structures are nonsense. The idea that the earth is ours to exploit falls short of the truth, as does the notion that particular people are more worthy to receive respect, prosperity, and love than others. Racism, sexism, and other discriminatory “isms” make even less sense.
In Jesus, we see this truth of oneness brought to life in the Incarnation. Scripture teaches that Jesus is simultaneously human and divine in a way that is to be imitated. Such a connection unifies what were once thought to be two realities separated by a great chasm of uncleanness and sin.
Yet God lives as a human, according to the Bible. Taking it further, this Divine Human doesn’t spend his time playing into the power politics of his day. Instead, he dissolves even more barriers, namely those between the elites and the have-nots, the clean and the unclean, the saints and the sinners. The lines are blurred in every interaction, and then obliterated when Jesus innocently shares punishment with common criminals.
Regardless of your feelings on the church or Christian doctrine or the Bible, the overarching message is clear: the distinctions of this world are created by us humans, and they are often used to benefit only a small portion of this world. The reality is that the same Energy that animates me and brings me to consciousness also gives breath to my family, my beloved cats, and my most bitter enemy. It allows the trees to grow and the sun to shine. The same Divinity that rests in Jesus rests in me, you, the ones we choose to love, and the ones we’d rather not.
Now this teaching has been misused in the past. If we are all the same, there is no real problem with poverty or abuse, right? God sees us equally, after all.
This is lazy, however. The real result of this idea should be an effort to make our world reflect this reality, eliminating poverty and need, treating all others with respect and dignity, broadening access to resources, and taking care of the natural world in which we reside.
The idea of “oneness” is not some otherworldly, metaphysical claim, but a statement about the interconnectedness of all life. As goes one thing, so go the others. None are above or beyond what happens to this world and those who reside in it.
I feel blessed by this knowledge. It’s already changed my approach to my family, strangers, and the environment. It’s changed how I look at those with whom I disagree. It’s changed my approach to God and religion.
It’s my hope that you know just how loved and beautiful you are. Similarly, I hope you will go forward acknowledging these things in others. If enough of us do this, who knows what might happen?
Peace be with you!