Skip to main content
Center for Action and Contemplation
Everything Belongs
Everything Belongs

Oneness with Everyone

Monday, July 10, 2023

If “everything belongs,” then no one needs to be punished, scapegoated, or excluded. [1] God has loving room for all of us—even those we consider enemies. Author Lerita Coleman Brown considers the mystic Howard Thurman’s (1899–1981) insistence that everyone is a child of God.   

The understanding that I am a holy child of God contains within itself often unrealized consequences. If I embrace this notion about myself, I must accept its corollary: that is, if I am a holy child of God, then so is everyone else. This sentiment is echoed in an interview in which Howard’s daughter, Olive Thurman Wong, bemoaned the fact that people didn’t fully comprehend the importance of oneness in her father’s life and work. “‘Oneness’ is an easy enough thing to bandy about,” writes Thurman scholar Liza Rankow, who interviewed Wong. “It is even an easy thing to profess, until we realize that it must include not only the people we like and agree with, not only those to whom we are sympathetic, but also those whom we view as abhorrent (whatever side of a political position we may hold). We don’t get to choose who we are one with—it’s everybody.” [2] 

Sometimes the faces of the people I detest flash across my mind and heart…. How can they possibly be holy children of God? Howard Thurman answers this question in the final chapter of Jesus and the Disinherited. Pointing to the centrality of the love ethic in Jesus’s teachings, he observes the types of people Jesus befriended who, by all accounts, should have been absolute enemies. Thurman points to the necessity of extinguishing bitterness within the heart in order to recognize adversaries as holy children of God. [3] 

Thurman emphasizes Jesus’ teaching to love our enemies as a radical challenge to love as if everyone belongs: 

Jesus, however, approaches life from the point of view of God. The serious problem for him had to be: Is the Roman a child of God? Is my enemy God’s child? If he is, I must work upon myself until I am willing to bring him back into the family.… If God loves them, that binds me. Can it be that God does not know how terrible my enemy is? No, God knows them as well as he knows himself and much better than I know them. It must be true, then, that there is something in every human that remains intact, inviolate, regardless of what he [or she] does. I wonder! Is this true? Is there an integrity of the person, so intrinsic in its value and significance that no deed, however evil, can ultimately undermine this given thing? If a person is of infinite worth in the sight of God, whether they are saint or sinner, whether they are a good person or a bad person, evil or not, if that is true, then I am never relieved of my responsibility for trying to make contact with this worthy thing in them. [4] 


[1] Theme Four of CAC’s Seven Themes of an Alternative Orthodoxy. To learn more about these themes, visit this webpage.  

[2] Liza J. Rankow, “Mysticism and Social Action: The Ethical Demands of Oneness,” in Anchored in the Current: Discovering Howard Thurman as Educator, Activist, Guide, and Prophet, ed. Gregory C. Ellison II (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Know, 2020), 119. 

[3] Lerita Coleman Brown, What Makes You Come Alive: A Spiritual Walk with Howard Thurman (Minneapolis, MN: Broadleaf Books, 2023), 76–77. 

[4] Howard Thurman, The Growing Edge (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1956), 17–18. Note: minor edits made for inclusive language. 

Image credit: A path from one week to the next—Izzy Spitz, Field Study 2, oil pastel on canvas. Izzy Spitz, Everything at Once, digital oil pastel. Izzy Spitz, Wings, digital oil pastel. Used with permission. Click here to enlarge image

Everything belongs: our messes and dreams, our hues of green and yellow, our curves and lines. 

Story from Our Community:  

During a recent zoom chat about a course on Celtic Spirituality, it became clear my companions and I from diverse countries are all daily meditators through Richard Rohr and CAC. Our spiritual curiosity and confidence to explore spirituality in general, and personal growth in particular, we all attributed directly to this gentle, loving, inclusive daily practice. To belong to this caring community reinforces how much we are inter-connected on this planet. We stride forward with renewed vigour and purpose at the beauty of life and its people. It’s a silent revolution! —Dee M.  

Navigate by Date

This year’s theme

A candle being lit

Radical Resilience

We live in a world on fire. This year the Daily Meditations will explore contemplation as a way to build Radical Resilience so we can stand in solidarity with the world without burning up or burning out. The path ahead may be challenging, but we can walk it together.

The archives

Explore the Daily Meditations

Explore past meditations and annual themes by browsing the Daily Meditations archive. Explore by topic or use the search bar to find wisdom from specific teachers.

Join our email community

Sign-up to receive the Daily Meditations, featuring reflections on the wisdom and practices of the Christian contemplative tradition.

Hidden Fields

Find out about upcoming courses, registration dates, and new online courses.
Our theme this year is Radical Resilience. How do we tend our inner flame so we can stand in solidarity with the world without burning up or out? Meditations are emailed every day of the week, including the Weekly Summary on Saturday. Each week builds on previous topics, but you can join at any time.
In a world of fault lines and fractures, how do we expand our sense of self to include love, healing, and forgiveness—not just for ourselves or those like us, but for all? This monthly email features wisdom and stories from the emerging Christian contemplative movement. Join spiritual seekers from around the world and discover your place in the Great Story Line connecting us all in the One Great Life. Conspirare. Breathe with us.