I appreciate what you do for and give to me, but you are more than what you give and do. You are a portal to God to the extent that you allow yourself to be. Every human is an extension of God to one another and to all Creation but not all are aware of the capacity for Good that this gives them. Jesus used the metaphor of the shepherd sitting in the entrance of the sheepfold when he said, “I am the way” and “I am the gate”. He modeled being a passageway of knowing one another and God.
My experience in society has been that everyone is valued for what they can give and do. Most people feel it requires too much effort and time to know who one another truly is. If a person begins to glimpse their own True Self and loves what they see, they behave with a confidence their group often tamps down and requires that they conceal. Such confidence is reserved for a few “stars” but for the rest of us is considered overbearing, too dominating, “not cool.” Perhaps all of us have experienced the backlash from letting one’s True Self be expressed – usually early in life.
Most people do not remember a time when they were encouraged to even discover it for themselves. I think most people in our society give up expecting to know themselves or anyone for who they truly are because that just has little use in our culture. The norm for “getting ahead” is usually to put on facades based on perceptions of how others view us. Some put on counterintuitive facades, but most just show people what is demanded of them. Personal expression is placed at a lower priority than “productivity” in order to run our “communities” which are reduced to a few nods and expressions of light conversation.
Personal expression is allowed for a few with earned credentials in a hierarchy of privilege who decide how things will be, based on their sense of convenience and preferences. I have tried to remain in groups and tribes enduring such restrictions, but eventually the time comes to move on if I want to grow as a person. At those partings I have felt the disappointment and loss of original vision that “this was finally the community” I had been seeking. Sometimes it has been the tribe that has left or expelled me: “Be who we want you to be, or we’ll excommunicate you from our utopia,” or “We’re not getting what we want from you anymore and looking for someone else.”
What is the alternative?
I am learning the paradigm that we are all members of one Body, all sharing the same Spirit and living by Love which this Body has for itself. This is described by St. Paul (see I Corinthians 12 and 13) as a place where each member is expected
- to fully appreciate who he/she is, to know their True Self,
- to know the uniqueness and importance of their contribution,
- to love their place in the Body.
To know one’s True Self is to realize one possesses the same life and Spirit that everyone else has, that they are an outgrowth of the same, universal field of vitality. Being conscious of our connectedness causes the members to take care of one another as self-care. Realizing the other members in this way causes us to respect and value the others. But these words are only the head knowledge pointing us to experience this reality
- through personal contemplation
- manifested in forms of interaction
- generate fellowship among members of the Body.
If the “form of interaction” becomes more important than the fellowship, we must find another way to affirm and promote the Love which enlivens the Body. Inadequate forms and systems restrict members from being their True Selves, leading to competitiveness, jealousies, divisions, and personal empire building. The ideal form of interaction is the Body moving and expressing its beauty as a unified whole, enjoying every member’s contribution.
We cannot accomplish this ideal by sheer will power of some individual or group. But it happens by the desire of that Spirit which we all share, the Spirit which is our uniting web. When individuals implore the Spirit to raise us to union, the Spirit energizes the imaginations of many to take actions which form the new community we could not invent alone. Biblical examples are the nation of Israel which formed in the wilderness and the early followers of Jesus.
Where does it come from?
I call for every individual to implore the Spirit we share to spark renewed life manifested in new forms of unity and fellowship. This raises us as a Body to embrace the higher Goodness of the Spirit. There is labor and turmoil which are natural to change. Tragically many are being crucified by the resistance to change and their crucifixions are serving to awaken some to our desperate need of change. We must recognize newness presenting itself in our upheavals and patiently attend to its birthing. Faith watches for signs of the new and encourages us that more will be revealed.
As we labor to build Good, we train our eyes on the vision we attain to rather than rehearse scenarios of failure. This vision is just a seed really, residing deep in the heart of Creation and we can each look within ourselves to find that seed if we will take the time and effort.
Contemplative practices (meditation, prayer) help us become aware of this New Creation waiting for us to embrace it. I look within my inner self to discern community in the communion with God. From my background arises Jesus’ statement of the two key principles of life: Love God, Love other persons as self. These suggest the essence of community. They include forgiving as a constant which makes possible on-going life together; we are patient and restorative with the flawed, the imperfect, the incomplete because community, not punishment, is the priority. We look for ways to close gaps and encourage our development beyond current inadequacies and we learn to follow the law of Love.
In the ways of Love we nurture this seed of Life by facilitating people’s discovery of their True Selves and learning to express it with growing skill as contributing members of the Body universe. We learn to be our True, interconnected selves by practice.
Lately I have been in community at a distance, continuing to create content which offers expression of my True Self. I am learning to be and to see each person as another portal of God. My vision is that my communion with God and openness to show the outgrowth of it will help grow the New Creation.