Archive for the ‘interconnectedness’ Tag

Our Story

I went to our annual family reunion not too long ago.  It’s been held at the same place and the same time (the second Sunday in August at noon) for at least ninety years.  We eat, talk, and look through old photos and family trees, and then we move on to our record keeping, noting all births, deaths, marriages, and other significant milestones.  Lastly, we play games and top everything off with a piñata full of candy.

Although our family is diverse in experiences and background, we share a commonality.  I’m sure you’re thinking that commonality is being blood-relatives, but I’m actually thinking that we enjoy being part of a story, the Cogley family story.  There is something about being a part of an event that takes place every year at the same time and location that has meaning in a world that is constantly changing.   We also see ourselves as being part of something bigger, something that hopefully will continue to go on long after we pass on.

My extended family is really part of an even bigger story, and guess what?  You’re included in that story, too.  It’s the story of humankind, and the relationship forged by the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit through the Son’s incarnation as Jesus Christ.  This story is also much bigger than we are, and will continue for eternity.

There is value in recognizing our place in the larger picture of humanity’s story.  We begin to see the interconnection we have with each other, even those who seem most different from us, along with the interconnection we have with creation around us.  By viewing one another as fellow players in this “God-movie,” we see our common humanity, both good and bad, in each other.  This produces patience and compassion, as we perceive ourselves in one another.

I recently read in Mark Nepo’s Book of Awakening about a tradition in South Africa called Ubuntu, which means, “I am because you are; you are because I am.”  Nepo writes:

            …In the ignited space of our deepest suffering, in the release of our deepest fears, in the familiar peace of our deepest joys, we are each other. (177)

The Cogley family is a diverse group, and as with any group, there are disagreements and personality clashes.  But as we rise above that, remembering that we have more in common than what we disagree on, we enjoy the benefits of love, laughter, and a piñata full of candy on a beautiful summer day.  We were created to need each other and to need God.  As humankind remembers that it is part of a bigger story and shared experience, we can take part more fully in the love that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit intended for us all along. Now if we can only find a world-size piñata…

~by Nan Kuhlman

The Chicago NATO Summit: Can We All Get Along?

This past weekend, my husband and I celebrated our wedding anniversary in downtown Chicago.  It’s a favorite getaway place for us, but this weekend, the tone of the city was very different.

If we had been in tune with the political news, we would have realized that the reason we enjoyed such light traffic traveling into the city was because the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was having an important summit in Chicago, and many downtown businesses were closed, fearing that demonstrators opposed to NATO would turn violent.

We finally noticed that something was askew when we saw Secret Service agents roaming through our hotel, eventually greeting us with a metal-detecting wand and a search of my purse each time we exited the elevator to our floor.  Security, in the form of security guards and police officers, was overwhelming.  As I walked down Michigan Avenue, police and roadblocks were everywhere, preparing just in case any peaceful demonstration ended up ugly.

If fear had a smell to it, Chicago would have reeked of fear this past weekend.  Although the extra security should have made me feel safer, it actually made me more ill at ease and fearful.  Then I had a moment of clarity in front of the Disney store.

Words of wisdom from Walt (Disney, that is).  Engraved on the wall just outside the doors of the Michigan Avenue Disney store are these words:  “The things that we have in common far outnumber and outweigh those that divide us.”  Whether we know it or not, every human being is connected.  In moments of frustration and misunderstanding, it is easy to focus on the issues that divide us, but the reality is that we are all special creations of the Triune God, equipped with abilities and skills and talents that are needed in our world now.

The show of force in Chicago this past weekend reminded me of the Los Angeles riots of April 1992, sparked by the beating of Rodney King.  King’s famous quote “…Can we all get along?” offers wisdom similar to the Walt Disney quote.  When we dwell on negative issues, we bathe ourselves in negativity and fear, and while we think we are working for our own good, unfortunately, fear never brings about “good.”  By trying to “get along” and seeing others as our brothers and sisters, we recognize that there is an equal potential for good or evil in every one of us.  This potential for both good and evil is another commonality we share, and it demands a sincere compassion for others.

Author Mark Nepo offers an interesting perspective on what true compassion requires:

Compassion is a deeper thing that waits beyond the tension of choosing sides.  Compassion, in practice, does not require us to give up the truth of what we feel or the truth of our reality.  Nor does it allow us to minimize the humanity of those who hurt us.  Rather, we are asked to know ourselves enough that we can stay open to the truth of others, even when their truth or their inability to live up to their truth has hurt us (The Book of Awakening 129).

Despite the tension that enveloped Chicago over the weekend, we were able to enjoy the city, believing the truth that Secret Service agents, demonstrators, police officers, and store clerks were all our brothers and sisters sharing that experience together.   Although there is no quick fix for the problems that NATO was sorting through, I think the wisdom of Walt Disney and Rodney King reveals that a solution is possible, but it would require a dramatic shift in the way we view each other and the world.  Recognizing our interconnectedness with each other and the Triune God and having compassion for one another are the first steps toward removing fear as our primary means for achieving peace.

~by Nan Kuhlman

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