One Origin

I have been spending my weekend sitting in on a retreat offered here at the Mount called "Seasons of the Spirit." Our sister who facilitates these retreats put together a wonderful program on the topic of pursuing peace. We spent Saturday listening to perspectives on Rosa Parks, Thomas Gumbleton, the women martyrs in El Salvador, Thomas Merton, and Pope Francis.

We also did a communal painting activity where we sat in a group of four. Each person used a different shade of green as we passed papers around our table. We had to listen to what was already on the paper before we added our own brush strokes. At night we were treated to a documentary about Bishop Gumbleton, learning about his ministry of nonviolence.

It was a great experience, but it was a different experience for me. This was the first time that I attended a retreat as a member of the hosting community. My perspective changed as a result. So, I started thinking about the way that our identity affects our perspective. My perspective of the world might be different if I were a veterinarian instead of a teacher, a male instead of a female, a wife instead of a woman seeking religious life, a realist instead of an idealist.

We see this all the time in our society. The businesspeople often see the world much differently than the environmentalists. Liberals often see the world much differently than the conservatives. You see where I'm going. We can easily divorce ourselves from one another because of the way we identify.

But, what if, what if, we all claimed our true identity first and foremost, seeing the world through that perspective? Then, we would identify by and recognize our common humanity. If we could all see the homeless man or woman as human, too. If we could all see the immigrant as human, too. If, before any other identity, we could all see each other as human, I think we would treat one another much differently. I think we might unite.

How can we find our common humanity and use it to pursue peace in our world?

Let us walk in the holy presence.


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