CAC teacher Brian McLaren is convinced that something beautiful lies “unveiled” on the other side of complexity and perplexity. He writes about the harmony that arises after struggling with and accepting doubt as a part of our faith journey.
This coming-into-union, this encounter-without-judgment, this knowing-without-control goes from me to you to us and beyond, to plants and animals and all of the created world. We come to hear the “same music,” the sound of the genuine , flowing through everything, every thing, every thing.
And this, I propose, is the core of spiritual experience shared by all or nearly all religions. It is the pearl of great price and the great treasure buried in the field, to use Jesus’ terminology [see Matthew 13:44–45]. Unfortunately, that treasure is often made inaccessible to insiders and outsiders alike because the gatekeepers of our traditions have never themselves explored the field and are unaware of its greatest treasure, or else they have experienced it but forgotten it, so now they neglect it. Some of them even built razor-wire fences around the part of the field where it is hidden, and they distract us with lesser things that are of more use or interest to them: beliefs, rules, policies, controversies, budgets, programs, activities, rituals, offerings, inquisitions.
The good news, however, is that this treasure is not the wholly owned subsidiary of any religious entity. The gatekeepers do not have an exclusive license to distribute it. The good news is that this . . . spirituality is available to everyone, like wind, rain, and sun, because it is, in my Christian vocabulary, the presence of grace and the creative current of the Holy Spirit that flows like a song through all of creation.
It is here. Available. At hand. Within reach. Right now. If those of us who have found this treasure in our religious traditions can begin to sing it, speak it, pray it, celebrate it, and live it out loud, perhaps together we can lean into Harmony as a civilization. Perhaps we can sing the song of Harmony in genuine harmony as a multi-faith visionary choir.
Right now, much work waits to be done. In politics, we’ve been studying war for centuries. We must now study how to create the conditions for deep and lasting peace. In many sectors of religion, we’ve been obsessed for centuries with escaping this day-to-day life on earth for an afterlife in heaven (or an experience of personal bliss). We must now cherish life on earth and engage with it by focusing our best energies on learning to love neighbor, self, earth, and God, who is Love. In education, for centuries we’ve been focused on basic morality, technology, and critical thinking. Now we must learn how to teach our children not just to know right from wrong, and not just to be able to make a living, and not just to be able to think critically, but also to live well with ourselves, one another, and the earth, discovering and cherishing the “sound of the genuine” in all things.
 Howard Thurman, “The Sound of the Genuine,” Baccalaureate Address, Spelman College, May 4, 1980.
Brian D. McLaren, Faith After Doubt: Why Your Beliefs Stopped Working and What to Do about It (St. Martin’s Essentials: 2021), 200–201.
Story from Our Community:
I began a journey of being present after both my parents passed in the fall of 2020. As part of my practice, I began taking simple thankfulness walks. A friend introduced me to Richard Rohr’s writings, which I started using as prompts for my walks. It has truly been an unveiling experience and had helped me to process my grief in a way that had brought growth. —Jeanne R.
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