Each of us reading this meditation is a different and unique person. And yet at the same time, we are not so different and unique. The mystics go to deeper levels to realize that we are more one than we are many. —Richard Rohr
Who I will be is deeply related to who you are. In other words, we are each impacted by the circumstances that impact those around us. What hurts you hurts me. What heals you heals me. —Jacqui Lewis
Ubuntu is about reaching out to our fellow men and women, through whom we might just find the comfort, contentment and sense of belonging we crave. Ubuntu tells us that individuals are nothing without other human beings. It encompasses everyone, regardless of race, creed or color. It embraces our differences and celebrates them. —Mungi Ngomane
We are each a God-carrier, a tabernacle of the Holy Spirit, indwelt by God the holy and most blessed Trinity. To treat one such as less than this is not just wrong. It is as if we were to spit in the face of God. —Desmond Tutu
God clearly loves diversity. All we need to do is look at the animal world, or the world under the sea, or each human being: who of us looks exactly alike? Is there any evidence to show where, in all creation, that God prefers uniformity? —Fr. Richard Rohr
One basic discovery was constantly surfacing—meaningful experiences of unity among peoples were more compelling than all that divided and separated. —Howard Thurman
Examining Our Stories
Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis believes that truthful storytelling can help us create the diverse and united community that God dreams for us. Today we share her prompts that invite us to reflect on the times we “othered” or were “othered” by people different from us. You may want to reflect on the prompts through prayer, journaling, or in conversation:
My parents’ stories, my own story, and the salvific story of God’s commitment to heal our souls and heal the world have caused me to see a world free of racism, and to imagine my role in creating that. . . . In order to see what God is up to, in order to perceive God’s vision, we must not only exegete the Scriptures to find God’s call and plan; we must also exegete our own stories, examining them for vivid glimpses of holy imagination and also for blind spots that might hinder our ability to see what God sees for us.
What is your story? . . .
- Recall the first time you were “othered” or rejected for being you. What happened?
- What did your family of origin teach you about race/ethnicity?
- What did your family of origin teach you about gender and sexuality?
- How has your understanding of racial/ethnic identity changed over time? How has it remained the same?
- How has your understanding of sexuality and gender changed over time? How has it remained the same?
- Talk about “class” in your story. Where have you been “othered” or othered another because of class differences?
- When did you first other another for their race, ethnicity, gender, or sexuality?
- Is there something that needs to be confessed, forgiven, or changed around race, ethnicity, or class in your life?
- Is there something that needs to be confessed, forgiven, or changed around gender and sexuality in your life?
If life in your faith community is an ongoing story, what is the title of the current chapter? What is the title five years from now? Write the title of three episodes that must happen in order to change the story.
Experience a version of this practice through video and sound.
Jacqueline J. Lewis and John Janka, The Pentecost Paradigm: Ten Strategies for Becoming a Multiracial Congregation (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2018), 18, 19–20.
Explore Further. . .
- Read Brian McLaren on the need for a more hopeful and inclusive story.
- Learn more about this year’s theme Nothing Stands Alone.
- Meet the team behind the Daily Meditations.
Image credit: Barbara Holmes, Untitled 24 (detail), 2021, photograph, United States, used with permission. Warren K. Leffler, View of the huge crowd, 1963 (detail), photograph, public domain. Warren K. Leffler, Demonstrators sit, 1963 (detail), photograph, public domain. Jenna Keiper and Leslye Colvin, 2021, triptych art, United States.
The creative team at CAC sent a single-use camera to core teacher Dr. Barbara Holmes as part of an exploration into contemplative photography. Her photos are featured here together with historical images in a form inspired by early Christian/Catholic triptych art: a threefold form that tells a unified story.
Image inspiration: Humanity is One although we are as diverse as flowers in a field. There is power in many different individuals coming together for one purpose—the March on Washington reminds us that together we have the capacity to be a transformative body and force for change.
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.