A Circle expands forever
It covers all who wish to hold hands
And its size depends on each other
It is a vision of solidarity
It turns outwards to interact with the outside
And inward for self critique
A circle expands forever
It is a vision of accountability
It grows as the other is moved to grow
A circle must have a centre
But a single dot does not make a Circle
One tree does not make a forest
A circle, a vision of cooperation, mutuality and care
—Mercy Amba Oduyoye
Mercy Amba Oduyoye, “The Story of a Circle” (Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians), The Ecumenical Review, vol. 53, no. 1 (January 2001), 97. Used with permission.
Fr. Richard Rohr, Center for Compassion & Contemplation
- Affirming people’s potential is more important than reminding them of their brokenness.
- The work of reconciliation should be valued over making judgments.
- Gracious behavior is more important than right belief.
- Inviting questions is more valuable than supplying answers.
- Encouraging the personal search is more important than group uniformity.
- Meeting actual needs is more important than maintaining institutions.
- Peacemaking is more important than power.
- We should care more about love and less about sex.
- Life in this world is more important than the afterlife (Eternity is Gaia’s work anyway).
…but the angel, imperious,pointed over and over
to what was written on the page he held,
and would not held and kept insisting: read.
Then the man read, and when he did the angel bowed.
It was as if he had always been reading,
and now was able to obey and bring to pass.
Alexander Stoddard/Grace Notes:
’Any profound view of the world is mysticism.’ -Albert Schweitzer
Love the questions. The bigger the questions, the better. The mysteries of life have never been understood by any human so far and never will be. The little things that make you happy, the order you put into your corner of the universe, the joy you feel from these small rituals, are mysterious. You’re not crazy; you’re creative. It’s all right if you are teased. Who cares? You do these things for yourself.
A BIBLICAL ROUGH DRAFT
The New Yorker
‘Many do not know that the Bible was once a “living document,” passed orally from person to person, and from generation to generation, before finally being written down. Even the most well-known Biblical passages went through countless iterations before arriving at the final, perfect, logical, cohesive, and treasured versions we now hold dear.
Early written drafts of the Bible were the transcribed pontifications of travelling “storytellers,” who tromped from village to village in floppy sandals, swatting at flies, sipping beads of dew from the undersides of donkeys, and fighting dogs for scraps of raw meat. A close reading of the earliest known transcription of a popular excerpt from the Book of Matthew reveals that the “narrator” is suffering from low blood sugar. No doubt a syphilitic holy man dressed in desert rags, he searches in vain for just the right metaphor, a well-aimed zinger with which to make his point. The toil that the poor fellow suffers in so doing undercuts the very principle he is straining to illustrate.’
‘I’m convinced that beneath the ugly manifestations of our present evils—political corruption, ecological devastation, warring against one another, hating each other based on race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or nationality—the greatest dis-ease facing humanity right now is our profound and painful sense of disconnection. We feel disconnected from God, certainly, but also from ourselves (especially our bodies), from each other, and from our world. Our sense of this fourfold isolation is plunging our species into increasingly destructive behavior and much mental illness.
Yet many are discovering that the Infinite Flow of the Trinity—and our practical, felt experience of this gift—offers the utterly grounded reconnectionwith God, with self, with others, and with our world that all spirituality, and arguably, even politics, is aiming for, but which conventional religion and politics fail to access.
Trinity overcomes the foundational philosophical problem of “the One and the Many.” Serious seekers invariably wonder how things can be both deeply connected and yet clearly distinct. In the paradigm of Trinity, we have three autonomous “Persons,” as we call them, who are nevertheless in perfect communion, given and surrendered to each other with an Infinite Love. With the endless diversity in creation, it is clear that God is not at all committed to uniformity but instead desires unity—which is the great work of the Spirit—or diversity overcome by love.
Uniformity is mere conformity and obedience to law and custom; whereas spiritual unity is that very diversity embraced and protected by an infinitely generous love.
This is the problem that our politics and most superficial religion are still unable to resolve.
Trinity is all about relationship and connection. We know the Trinity through experiencing the flow itself, which dissolves our sense of disconnection. The principle of one is lonely; the principle of two is oppositional and moves us toward preference and exclusion; the principle of three is inherently moving, dynamic, and generative. Trinity was made to order to undercut all dualistic thinking. Yet Christianity shelved it for all practical purposes because our dualistic theologies could not process it.
God is not a being among other beings, but rather the Ground of Being itselfwhich then flows through all beings. As Paul says to the intellectuals in Athens, this God “is not far from us, but is the one in whom we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:27-28). The God whom Jesus reveals is presented as unhindered dialogue, a positive and inclusive flow, and a waterwheel of outpouring love that never stops! St. Bonaventure called God a “fountain fullness” of love.
Our sense of disconnection is only an illusion. Nothing can stop the flow of divine love; we cannot undo the eternal pattern even by our worst sin. God is always winning, and God’s love will finally win in the end. Nothing humans can do can stop the relentless outpouring force that is the divine dance. Love does not lose, nor does God lose. That’s what it means to be God!’
Image credit: (detail), Andrei Rublev, c. 1400-1410, Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russia.
Trinity: The Trinity depicts the three angels who visited Abraham at the Oak of Mamre (Genesis 18: 1-8); the painting is full of symbolism and is interpreted as an icon of the Holy Trinity. At the time of Rublev, the Holy Trinity was the embodiment of spiritual unity, peace, harmony, mutual love and humility.
Marianne Williamson, Democratic Presidential Candidate who bases her platform on love and connection, needs only 2,400 singular donations [$1-$5], 65,000 total, to be allowed to join the first debates schedule for June in Miami. Please donate at https://www.marianne2020.com
“A nation’s behavior is just like an individual’s – either an expression of our higher nature or our lower nature. In the case of both, cause and effect holds: whatever we do has consequences. Love leads to harmony & lovelessness to chaos.That’s why wisdom is relevant to politics.”
“The Light in which we are one does not change.”
There is simplicity…ease…in kindness, inclusivity, and compassion. Complexity and chaos are created when we allow ‘other’, dominance, greed, and power.
Grace is born in community, communication, and care.
A new paradigm, therefore, is created locally, which in turn effects the collective.
Not government, or policy, or military.
We, the people, can embrace our own dialogue, and meaning, without outside influences born of profit, and alternative motive.
’It’s not that there are no difference—the world is made of infinite variety—rather it is the seizing of differences, the fearing of differences, that keeps us from feeling grace.
Paradoxically, everything in life touches the same center through its uniqueness, the way no two souls are the same, though every soul breathes the same air.
The mind’s worst diseas: the endless deciding between want and don’t want, the endless war between for and against.’ -Mark Nepo
‘Living in community means living in such a way that others can access me and influence my life and that I can get “out of myself” and serve the lives of others. Community is a world where brotherliness and sisterliness are possible. By community, I don’t mean primarily a special kind of structure, but a network of relationships. On the whole, we live in a society that’s built not on community and cooperation but on individuality, greed, and competition—often resulting in oppressive economic systems, unnecessary suffering, and environmental devastation.
Today we might call powers and principalities our collective cultural moods, mass consciousness, or any institutions considered “too big to fail.” These are our idols. We are mostly oblivious to this because we take all our institutions as normal civilization and absolutely inevitable. It is the “absolutely” that makes us blind and allows us to make passing structures into complete idols. Because we partly profit from these frequently collective evils, it doesn’t look like evil at all—but something good and necessary. For instance, I’ve never once heard a sermon against the tenth commandment, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods,” because in our culture that’s the only game in town. It is called capitalism, and we live comfortably because of it. It is only our unwillingness to question such powers and principalities, or in any way limit them (which is worship), which makes them into a false god. “The angels of darkness must always disguise themselves as angles of light.
(see 2 Corinthians 11:(14-15)
The individual is largely helpless and harmless standing against the system of disguise and illusion. Thankfully, we’re seeing many people, religious and secular, from all around the world, coming together to form alternative communities for sharing resources, living simply, and imagining a sustainable and nonviolent future. It is hard to imagine there will be a future without them.’
‘In our age, tragedies are collective & shared across the world, & even in the darkest moments of destruction, unity & love always emerge.’
Let’s bring back:
We are members one of another.
Right thought, constantly poured into consciousness, will eventually purify it.
-Science of Mind
Think now of an open field.
This open physical space is a metaphor for how we are affected by others through a unity of relationship (Ernest Holmes). ✿ Consider someone has divided virgin land into one-acre plots, and given an acre apiece to a number of individuals who are free to raise whatever they want.
“After years of cultivating our individual gardens, what will we fine” (Holmes)?
We will find much in our garden that we did not plant. Seeds from nearby plots of land have blown onto our plot, or birds have brought seeds. ✿ Those seeds have produced plants we do not want, yet we were not able to prevent their growth.
No matter how well we have tended our own garden, it is affected by other lands nearby. ✿ All pieces of land are affected by the others. Similarly, our individual consciousness is not separate from the Universal. There is only one Mind and each of us is part of this unity.
The consciousness of each person influences the collective field. ✿ Other people experience that which we cultivate in our consciousness, and we are affected by the consciousness of others.
We contribute to the overall well-being of the world when we cultivate a beautiful garden in our mind. ✿ We can do so by eliminating unloving thoughts and by planting instead only those ideas that generate condition we ourselves desire to experience.
[Science of Mind. March 2017. p. 42]
“I cultivate a beautiful consciousness.”
A very touching story from the Talmud captures this soft paradox of how we all journey alone together.
A rabbi asks his students, “How do you know the first moment of dawn has arrived?” After a great silence, one pipes up, “When you can tell the difference between a sheep and a dog.” The Rabbit shakes his head no. Another offers, “When you can tell the difference between a fig tree and an olive tree.” Again The Rabbi shakes his head no. There are no other answers.
The Rabbi circles their silence and walks between them, “You know the first moment of dawn has arrived when you look into the eyes of another human being and see yourself.
[Simply breathe your heart open, and try to feel both your aloneness and what you share with every other human being.]