The Larger Whole

Reflected SkySpirituality is our experience of connection to the larger whole of which we are a part. I believe that each being is sacred, and we are all one family, one circle. My deepest experiences convince me this is true, even though we may forget, even despite the ways we may be estranged. Linda Hogan writes that the purpose of ceremony is to remember that all things are connected. She says:

“The participants in a ceremony say the words ‘All my relations’ before and after we pray; those words create a relationship with other people, with animals, with the land. To have health it is necessary to keep all these relations in mind.”

As we begin to build bridges across the broken places within our hearts, across the broken places between peoples, across the broken places between people and the earth, we are doing the work of mending the world. We are awakening, we are remembering, the reality in which we actually live, the unity of all. The Buddhists call it inter-being. In South Africa it is called ubuntu: we are all born to belonging, and we know ourselves in just and mutual relationship to one another. We move beyond the small self of the ego, into the larger Self some call God, or what I have called Mystery. Thomas Merton writes,

“We are already one. But we imagine that we are not. And what we have to recover is our original unity. What we have to be is what we are.”

The purpose of spirituality is to remember that all things are connected and to heal the brokenness between us.

An old Rabbi once asked his pupils how they could tell when the night had ended and day had begun.
Could it be,” asked one of the students, “when you can see an animal in the distance and tell whether it is a sheep or a dog?”
No,” answered the Rabbi.
Another asked, “Is it when you can look at a tree in the distance and tell whether it’s a fig tree or a peach tree?”
No,” answered the Rabbi.
Then what is it?” the pupils demanded.
It is when you can look on the face of any man or woman and see that it is your sister or brother. Because if you cannot see this, it is still night.”
                                                                             (Hasidic Tale)

Quotes from Linda Hogan, Dwellings: A Spiritual History of the Living World, (New York: Norton, 1995)
Thomas Merton: Essential Writings, edited by Christine Bochen. (Maryknoll NY: Orbis Books, 2000)
Hasidic Tale, Quoted in Spiritual Literacy, edited by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, p. 502. 

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