It is not a bad thing when we discover that we disagree. That we see the world through different windows, different frames. The real trick is to allow it. Not to avoid or deny or cover it over. Rather to become curious about different visions of how things are or how things could be, and not be threatened or defended or arrogantly certain. How boring if we all saw the same world in the same way through the same window!
The universe seems to revel in diversity, in the splendor of differentiation. How many species of flowers are in the fields? Of insects? Of fish and birds and color and sound? Our world is a masterpiece of texture. I would urge each of us to celebrate her/his individuality, not as a problem, but as a gift, a calling and a challenge. Wear your unrepeatable face proudly as a unique expression of divine extravagance.
Could it be that the reason we are drawn into community in the first place is the experience of exquisite variety? We come to know ourselves more fully only by the challenge of facing one another. We all are immensely improbable creatures. What were your chances of arriving into this world as a human, at this time and in this place? You are improbable, to say the obvious! And always the person whom you are addressing and addressed by is equally improbable. Two improbables in improbable communion! The sheer grace of encounter! As the author of the Hebrew Legends of Genesis has it, “And the Spirit of the Mysterious One moved over the face of the primal waters” and it all began. (Genesis 1:2) Our improbable cosmos is still unfolding in and around us.
To join a community is to sign up for a journey of discovery. It may well be true that the person to whom I am the least drawn, has something of value to teach me. This could be information or facts, but more importantly, a way of being opened and vulnerable, awakened. Sometimes this is very painful. But the universe seems to revel in surprise. Can we allow ourselves to be surprised by one another? Is surprise perhaps the most profound meaning of “that of God in each of us”?
Community is hard work: never a casual walk in the park. We cannot become fully alive alone. It is not a bad thing when we discover that we disagree. Seeing the world through different windows in different ways is an expression of a deepened vision and maturity. Let’s fall in love with our differences, even when it’s painful.
Grace and peace,
Stan Grotegut – clerk
(The photo is a happenstance shot from the window of the dining hall at Mt. Rainier National Park)