A couple of nights ago I was part of a panel discussion on “Encountering the Holy in a Complicated World.” In the time between being invited to share in this presentation and the night of the panel itself, one of my co-presenters, whose name is Trinity Wilbourn, had discovered that her seven year old son has cancer. She had been determined to do the presentation anyway, and so on the day it was to occur she came away from her son’s continuous, harrowing treatments at Children’s Hospital in Denver to be with us in Fort Collins, some fifty miles away.
Trinity talked about coming from a Christian tradition in which “holiness” was seen as a goal to be achieved by eliminating un-holy behaviors. She had come across Richard Rohr’s wisdom — “everything belongs” — and it had resonated deeply with her. She said that we have to decide how we are going to see. Will we partition the world into dualistic categories, hoping to eliminate the things we don’t like, or will we see with unfettered eyes? She has decided that she will strive to see Whole-ly. Even though she doesn’t understand what it could possibly be, Cancer must have a place.
Unpartitioned seeing is the sort of wisdom that grows out of a spiritual practice. Resting in God in centering prayer, talking with God in Lectio Divina, being mindful of every step, welcoming every emotion, we come to trust that what we can’t tolerate must have a place. This makes speaking truth to power all the more necessary. We need to call one another on our compartmentalizing of the world, and especially on practices that bring us personal gain through portraying others as not holy. In fact, we cannot keep silent about injustice, oppression, and the mistreatment of God’s creatures. Everything belongs.
These days we are embroiled in a very complicated world indeed. There are wars and insurrections, nation rising against nation, floods, earthquakes and famine. And to our shame, Christians have as often been persecutors of people of other faiths as we have been persecuted ourselves.
What is the wisdom of the Holy Spirit when we must speak truth to power? What words might we utter “that none of our opponents will be able to withstand or counteract?” As Jesus advises, we won’t need to know them ahead of the time at which they are required of us. But what we will need to do is learn to choose over and over again the unpartitioned seeing that recognizes that everything belongs. This perception brings the peace that passes understanding. And speaking from that place of centered peace awakens the hearts of those we are confronting.
Everything belongs, much as we find that confusing, hateful and depressing sometimes. It means that we belong — in all our contradictions, and with all our fears and foibles. There is no moment of our lives in which Christ is not present. Nor is there a moment when we cannot speak on behalf of Christ, of the love of all people that is Christ’s heart.
Laurie Gudim is a writer, religious iconographer, and spritual director living in Fort Collins, Colorado. To get to know her a little better, visit her webpage, everydaymysteries.com