It Doesn't Exist

On Saturday night, before I fell asleep, I did what I do many nights: I took inventory of the location of the members of my family: 

Mom & Dad: They're fine; they're up the road in Danby.
Nate: Nate is in Yellowstone National Park.
Sam: Sam is waiting in an airport in Arizona for his next flight, to Nevada.
Coco: Coco is down the road at the Russell's, having a slumber party with seven other girls.
Brett: Brett is up north, staying with his folks and going out to hear some music.

Oddly, I didn't feel lonely or even very much alone. I had Daisy, who is great company and I don't get lonely, really. I like being alone.

But that's not the point.

I also thought about my brother in Colorado and my sister in Alaska and my other brother in California. And I visualized us all connected by the silky threads of a web, like the kind a spider makes. It was comforting; I was pleased that everyone was out in the world doing interesting things, exploring, being together with other family and friends, collecting stories to bring back to the hearth, eventually.

And then, because I was still thinking about what I wanted to say on Sunday morning, which meant that I was thinking about the foundational story of Genesis and Martin Luther King, Jr. and the presidential inauguration, I was reminded that we are all very much in this thing together. Whether we like it or not. That we are all part of a much larger, inter-woven and very beautiful narrative.

This is what it is, you know. We need to remember this today and then again on Friday when we are thinking about all of the things that divide us as humans. Let's see if we can try, instead, to think of all the things that connect us in this life.

I might not like your politics, but I like that you have a good relationship with your kids.
I might not like that you have a broken relationship with your kids, but I like that you are a hard worker.
I might not like the things you believe about women, but I am grateful that you are championing better care for the elderly.
I might not like how you feel about refugees moving to our community, but I like how you tend lovingly to our church building.
I might not like that you don't know how to say "I love you," but I'm grateful that show up. I'm grateful that you're helpful all the time.

I think it kind of goes like that. We can't like everyone, we can't like everything about the people we love, even, but we need to love everyone. We actually do. And that means finding the in-road and seeing the goodness. It takes courage. It takes humility. It takes depth of understanding and the wisdom to know the difference between like and love.

I know that people have done this for me in my lifetime. No one in our church, I'm sure, felt good about having a twice-divorced, unmarried woman for a pastor, but they saw something else that made them take the risk, that allowed them to have even just a modicum of faith. They gave me a chance, perhaps one I didn't deserve. 

The web of connectedness I envisioned for my family extends, in reality, to every living thing on this planet. As humans we have used our brains to draw lines and to build walls and to create force fields. I'm blue, you're red: I'm white, you're black; I'm a northerner, you're a southerner; I'm right, you're wrong. Nothing like creating more calamity in an already calamity-saturated world. 

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin: “The physical structure of the universe is love.” 

Richard Rohr: "There’s no such thing in the whole universe as autonomy. It doesn’t exist."

Amen.