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The Beloved Community: We Are Already Connected

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Community

The Beloved Community
Tuesday, May 8, 2018

The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice. —Martin Luther King, Jr. [1]

As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. saw clearly in the last years of his life, we face a real choice between chaos and community—we need a moral revolution. If that was true fifty years ago, then we must be clear today: America needs a moral revival to bring about beloved community. —William J. Barber II [2]

I believe that “moral revival” is a natural outgrowth of realizing how connected we already are: what we do unto others or to the earth, we really do to ourselves. All created beings are included in this one Body of God. Protestant pastor and political leader Rev. Dr. William Barber writes:

The main obstacle to beloved community continues to be the fear that people in power have used for generations to divide and conquer God’s children who are, whatever our differences, all in the same boat. [3]

It takes a contemplative, nondual mind to see foundational oneness—that we truly are “in the same boat.” The first philosophical problem of “the one and the many” is overcome in God as Trinity. The Trinity reveals that God is precisely diversity maintained (“Father,” “Son,” and “Holy Spirit”) and yet that same diversity overcome (God is One by reason of the infinite love shared between the Three). Each of the Three perfectly loves and is perfectly loved. And all is created in imitation of this divine shape of Reality. As of yet, we humans have neither done unity nor diversity very well. We have not solved the essential problem that was already resolved in God. (Please read that until it sinks in!)

The goal of the spiritual journey is to discover and move toward connectedness and relationship on ever new levels, while also honoring diversity. We may begin by making connections with family and friends, with nature and animals, and then grow into deeper connectedness with those outside our immediate circle, especially people of races, religions, economic classes, gender, and sexual orientation that are different from our own. Finally, we can and will experience this full connectedness as union with God. For some it starts the other way around: they experience union with God—and then find it easy to unite with everything else.

Without connectedness and communion, we don’t exist fully as our truest selves. Becoming who we really are is a matter of learning how to become more and more deeply connected. No one can possibly go to heaven alone—or it would not be heaven.

Inherent Goodness can always uphold you if you can trust it. I call that goodness “God,” but you don’t have to use that word at all. God does not care. It is the trusting that is important. When we fall into Primal Love, we realize that everything is foundationally okay—and we are a part of that everything!

References:
[1] Martin Luther King, Jr. used these words (with slight changes) in essays and speeches from early 1958 to his last Sunday morning sermon at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC on March 31, 1968.  See A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr., ed. James Melvin Washington (HarperCollins: 1991), 52, 88, 207, 252, 277, 460.

[2] Reverend Dr. William J. Barber II, in the foreword to Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, Reconstructing the Gospel: Finding Freedom from Slaveholder Religion (InterVarsity Press: 2018), 3.

[3] Ibid.

Adapted from Richard Rohr: Essential Teachings on Love, ed. Joelle Chase and Judy Traeger (Orbis Books: 2018), 102, 104-105.

Image credit: Welcome (detail), Canticle Farm, Oakland California. To learn more about Canticle Farm, visit https://canticlefarmoakland.org/.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: When we took down the fences between our yards, . . . we were also taking down the fences in our hearts. That’s when we really began to know and love our neighbors and make peace with one another.  —Anne Symens-Bucher, Canticle Farm
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