As I left work this morning, I drove by a house where a friend used to live who has since passed on. There were young children coming out of the house, and I thought about how nice that would be to see the big house filled with activity, laughter, and the sounds of a growing family again. Then I thought about the house I live in now and the fact that there were babies born in this house in the early part of the 20th century who grew up, raised their own families, and have since left this earth. All part of the circle of life – sad in some ways, but strangely comforting in other ways. Birth, growth, expansion, adding our little bit to this world, and then passing on and leaving the newer members to carry on.
This little scene in my mind helped put things in perspective in a way. What would those who have gone on have to say to us today? I think every generation has new tasks and challenges, and often the old ways of doing things don’t work anymore. I also think that what’s really important doesn’t change – relationships, connection, love, taking care of each other and our planet, putting people before profit, and each person living to express their unique purpose. Can we in this generation put these things first or are we so concerned with being right and controlling things that we can’t see the forest for the trees? We will never move forward in a healthy way if we refuse to connect with those we think are our enemy.
Can we be brave and wise enough to let down our guard and dialogue with people we think we have absolutely nothing in common with? Can we take the first step and be real and vulnerable and honest so others can do the same? Or are we too afraid, too distrustful? Are our minds made up that only WE have the answers?
A few years ago, I read about a local man whose elderly aunt lay in a coma, close to death. At one point, she sat up, opened her eyes and said, “It’s all so obvious, it’s all so simple”, then she lay back down and breathed her last breath. What was she seeing to bring that message to her family? I don’t know, but I think she was seeing that somehow we are all connected and part of a greater whole. I think she was seeing how all the pieces of the puzzle fit together, how the tapestry was woven and we were all part of it. Our enemies are not people – they are outdated ways of thinking, ideas of separation which bring about fear, greed, and the need to control. We can do our part to stop greed, oppression, violence, and power gone crazy, but we have to do it in a way that recognizes that people aren’t the enemy. And sometimes we have to trust that karma is at work and that people who won’t learn the lessons will bring about their own undoing.
The first step is believing that it is even possible to connect. When we think something is impossible, we will make no effort to see it happen. Think about the love you feel for your spouse, your children, your grandchildren. Then extend that love out a little further to make a bigger circle, then a little further until you see that no one can or should be left out – not the “greedy corporate CEO”, not the person of a different race or religion that you maybe once felt didn’t deserve to be included, not the murderer on death row, not the nosy neighbor, not the member of your family that you’ve been feuding with for years, not the dirty homeless person you walk by every day, not your political “enemy”. When Jesus prayed “Our Father who art in heaven”, he wasn’t just talking about his little band of followers. We are part of a bigger family, and, although we will have our differences and our sibling rivalries, we have to remember that a house divided against itself cannot stand.