Restoring Relationships — Center for Action and Contemplation
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A Connected Universe

Restoring Relationships

Monday, January 17th, 2022

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

In his 1967 Christmas sermon on peace and nonviolence, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stressed the interrelatedness of Earth, nations, and all life:

Now, let me suggest first that, if we are to have peace on earth, our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. . . . We must develop a world perspective. No individual can live alone; no nation can live alone, and as long as we try, the more we are going to have war in this world. . . .

It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. We are made to live together because of the interrelated structure of reality. [1]

Writer Victoria Loorz, co-founder of the “Wild Church Network,” believes religion’s true purpose is to restore our relationships with each other and the earth:

The word religion, at its roots, means re, “again,” and ligios, “connection,” like ligaments. Religion is meant to offer us support to connect again what has been separated. Apparently we need constant reminders to continually reconnect with the fullness of life, the whole, the holy. What we’ve created is more like disligion: disconnection from people and species unlike us. When religion loses its purpose and colludes with the forces of separation instead, it becomes irrelevant and even irreverent. . . .

Loorz seeks to encourage people towards deeper love by encountering the Holy outdoors:

The new story is emerging, and I cannot pretend to know all the layers. Yet one aspect that seems essential relates to the worldview of belonging—a way of being human that acts as if we belong to a community larger than our own family, race, class, and culture, and larger even than our own species. The apocalyptic unveiling happening in our world right now makes it difficult even for those who have been sheltered in privilege to look away from the reality, both tragic and beautiful, that we are all deeply interconnected. Humans, trees, oceans, deer, viruses, bees. God.

Many people, whether they go to church regularly or avoid it, feel closest to God while they are in nature. Even a simple gaze at a full moon can be a spiritual experience if you are mindful enough. And a glorious sunset can summon hallelujahs from deep in your soul. Humans are made to engage in life-affirming conversation with the whole, holy web of life. . . .

Mystical experience in nature—those moments when you sense your interconnection with all things—are more than just interesting encounters. They are invitations into relationship. Beyond caring for creation or stewarding Earth’s “resources,” it is entering into an actual relationship with particular places and beings of the living world that can provide an embodied, rooted foundation for transformation. The global shift necessary to actually survive the crises we’ve created depends on a deep inner change. [2]

References:

[1] Martin Luther King, Jr., “A Christmas Sermon on Peace,” in The Trumpet of Conscience (Boston: Beacon Press, 2010), 70, 71.

[2] Adapted from Victoria Loorz, Church of the Wild: How Nature Invites Us into the Sacred (Minneapolis, MN: Broadleaf Books, 2021), 19–20, 21.

Explore Further. . .

Image Credit: Brian McLaren, Untitled 7-9 (detail), 2021, photograph, United States. Jenna Keiper and Leslye Colvin, 2021, triptych art, United States.

The creative team at CAC sent a single-use camera to Brian McLaren as part of an exploration into contemplative photography. His photos are featured here in a form inspired by early Christian/Catholic triptych art: a threefold form that tells a unified story. 

Image Inspiration: We often look up to appreciate the universe, but this massive universe is not only above us. It’s also under us, around us, and in us. It connects us all—stars, palm plants, grasses, humans and turtles alike.

Story from Our Community:

The necessity of relationship and connection resonates with me as truth. I’ve been struck in times of crisis by the power of one person to lift up. I was brought to tears in a busy store by the checkout person’s kindness and empathy as I struggled to unload heavy items. She gently did it herself, even though it wasn’t her job. She was Christ in that moment.
—Jo S.

Share your own story with us.

Prayer for our community:

God, Lord of all creation, lover of life and of everything, please help us to love in our very small way what You love infinitely and everywhere. We thank You that we can offer just this one prayer and that will be more than enough,  because in reality every thing and every one is connected, and nothing stands alone. To pray for one part is really to pray for the whole, and so we do. Help us each day to stand for love, for healing, for the good, for the diverse unity of the Body of Christ and all creation, because we know this is what You desire: as Jesus prayed, that all may be one. We offer our prayer together with all the holy names of God, we offer our prayer together with Christ, our Lord, Amen.

Listen to the prayer.

 

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