Saturday, August 27, 2011

On Embracing the Human Race and Diversity

Credit: Pete Saloutos/Getty Images

This past week my children and I visited a nearby park near our new neighborhood. I was so delighted to meet so many interesting people from different ethnic backgrounds and religions. God made our world so rich in variety!

There were several families at the park. I sat at a picnic table with four other homeschooling mothers. But not your typical homeschooling crowd. At the table, there was a French Muslim, an atheist, a Unitarian Universalist, a Cuban Seventh-Day Adventist, and me. I am a Christian who was briefly involved in one of the above spiritual paths in the past.

I grew up with no religion or spiritual guidance, dabbled in many spiritual paths, then became a Christian in my mid to late 20's. Since then, which was over 20 years ago, our family has had experiences in a myriad of different settings, the latest being over five years spent with conservative Mennonite/Anabaptist communities. (The Mennonites are the group that the Amish came out of, around the 1600's). We are no longer part of that community, as of just a few months ago, although we greatly appreciate our time there. We learned a lot, were enriched, and we, as well as our children, have many fond memories and are very, very grateful for that time in our lives, and we love the people there.

Back at the park the other day, the thing that amazed and delighted me was the graciousness and humbleness of our very candid conversations. Everyone felt free to share about the paths they had chosen, or had grown up with, in detail, and no one was offended, loud or upset. Very rare nowadays. It's about getting to know people on a deeper level -- their joys, their struggles, their journeys. Our time together was very rich and loving. My spirit was quickened and I felt love for everyone there.

It got me thinking that we have so much to learn from others. Anyone! I think I learned more from the DC homeless population, when I worked with them years ago, than others in quite a while. I've found that there's a great depth to people when they've worked hard to overcome challenges and difficulties. They've truly experienced life in so many ways and on so many levels, good and bad, and have so much to offer. Such richness.

I'm grateful that we're not so isolated anymore and are able to more fully be a part of the human race. For the past few years, it seems, we rejected fellowship with anyone that wasn't just like us. And some of the only times we did communicate with people that were different than us was to try to make them just like us. This is the way of the community we recently left.

My husband and I feel ashamed at the way we looked at others at times; how we bought into a limited way of thinking -- how judgmental we were toward anyone not like us. It's so easy to fall into, especially for those who have never known any different, and especially when that's mostly all you and your children are surrounded by, day in and day out.

It's WONDERFUL to be able to touch others' lives again, and to be touched by them! We're slowly reversing some (but not all) of the teachings we and our children have been immersed in over the past several years. One being that we need not fear man.

We can learn lessons from ANYONE!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Guilt and Judgment
"Accused of Witchcraft"
Oil Painting by Douglas Volk, 1884. Corcoran Gallery Washington, DC

"Do not be afraid to look within.
The EGO tells you
all is black with guilt within you,
and bids you not to look.

Instead, it bids you to look upon your brothers,
and see the guilt in them.
Yet this you cannot do without remaining blind."
A Course in Miracles
"Witch Hill," or "The Salem Martyr"
Thomas Slatterwhite Noble 1835 - 1907
Lexington: Univ. of Kentucky Art Museum. Collection of the NY Historical Society

Is the ego really just us trying to be God?