Franciscan Sister Joan Brown writes of three foundational principles needed for harmony and wholeness. She describes the relational flow that functions everywhere, from the micro to macro worlds, from atoms to galaxies, connecting everything in between. A living pattern of three interdependent energies runs through all of life: Diversity, essence and interconnectedness.
First, diversity and differentiation abound. Every snowflake and fingerprint is different. Every leaf and mountain, every human face is unique. Religious people see this diversity as an aspect of God's generous creation. Difference is necessary for abundant life.
Second, essence is the interiority or the subjective reality of things. Religious people say that every created thing is holy. "God saw that it was good" (Genesis 1). Jesus said that God cares over the fall of every sparrow (Matthew 10:29). At the core of every created thing there is a sacred essence. Abuse, neglect and exploitation are ways that we dishonor the essence of the other.
Third, interconnectedness or communion relates diversity with essence. Community describes the fundamental relationship of everything that is. We live in communion with the earth and the stars, with other human beings and with all life. Scientists use the term the "butterfly effect" as a metaphor for the atmospheric interconnectedness of weather. There is a wholeness to life and everything is connected.
Diversity, essence and interconnectedness. We see this three-part pattern in the physical world. Electrons, protons and neutrons have their distinct roles in the dance of interconnectedness that expresses the diversity and essence of each unique element. Stars and planets and galaxies do something similar in the dance of the universe.
In the human arena, this three-fold reality points us toward a way of being that is healthy and good.
Diversity is good. Different people bring different gifts. We grow when we learn from those who are different from us. Fear of the other creates so much grief and violence.
Your essence is your birthright: to know yourself as a child of God, of infinite worth and profound potential. "The unexamined life is not worth living," said Socrates. Shallow, superficial living blocks us from the mysterious essence of what it is to be a human being, fully alive.
We are all connected with every other human being. We are one human race expressed in communion with all other people. Seventeenth-century poet John Donne wrote:
"Each man's death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee."
Our natural joy and energy abounds when we welcome with openness the wonderful diversity and difference in our world, when we honestly examine our inner selves within a context of being God's beloved children, and when we live in loving, respectful communion with all other people and things.
We create tragedy and injustice when we fail to live respectfully before the diversity, essence and interconnectedness of our world.
So many people like me, brought up swimming in an ocean of American white privilege, react instinctively with fear when confronted with the full diversity of humanity. Too often we express that fear destructively. White America has imposed violence and marginalization upon our black brothers and sisters. Right now there is a rising tide of ugly anti-Muslim rhetoric echoing among certain internet silos.
Today we see desperate families fleeing their homes in Central America because drought has led to starvation and and because gangs threaten, murder and rape their children to supply our North American addictions. We fail to see our neighbors' essence when we objectify them with inhuman names like "illegals." Beatrice Bruteau wrote, "If we cannot love our neighbor as ourself, it is because we do not perceive our neighbor as ourself."
To be in right relationship is to be in communion. Generous interconnectedness heals beyond boundaries of race and nation to create true community.
Communion also extends to a holy respect for the planet itself. We know that if we do not care for our environment, we can destroy the conditions for healthy human life. Exploiting humans, animals or earth is a failure to be in caring relationships.
There is a flow to the universe. People filled with flow tend to flourish even under adversity, and their fullness overflows graciously, like water seeking the lowest point, bringing refreshing life to the neediest people and places.
Be the flow.
Commentary on 06/18/2019
Print Headline: Everything is connected