We're all connected.

There’s a lot of division around us these days…it’s an election year so I guess that’s to be expected. But it's about more than just politics.

What is most striking to me with all the debates, with all the finger pointing, with all the hate and fear and talk of shutting down our borders is that we’ve forgotten to see the humanity in people. Finger pointing, fear mongering and exclusion create space for the humanity of people to be erased.

We should never seek to erase people. We should never forget each other.

I think in pictures most of the time. When I think of the world and humanity, I have always pictured all of us connected. It’s like there’s a thin string connecting each of us to one another.

All beautifully different, but still connected. We need to look past what makes us call someone “other” and see the humanity in one another. We need to recognize that we are not separate.

Richard Rohr says,

A saint sees things in their connectedness. They don't see everything as separate. It's all one. What you do to your neighbor, you do to yourself and how you love yourself is how you love your neighbor. How you love God is how you love yourself and how you love yourself is how you love God. It's all one. How you do anything is how you do everything.

It's like we've forgotten that we're supposed to love one another. For too long we’ve dehumanized people. For too long we’ve put some lives over other’s lives. For too long we’ve promoted a message that some people, whether it’s because of where they live, where they were born, what color their skin is, what their occupation is or how much money they have, they are more important than another.

This way of thinking has become engrained in our systems, in our actions, in the words we say, in the way we treat each other, in the way we vote, the policies we support and sometimes even the things we preach.

For too long we have forgotten to truly see each other and to see how we are all connected.

I believe God created each and every single person. And therefore, they deserve to be seen. They deserve to be treated with love, dignity and respect. I know I don’t always do this well, so I’m asking God to help me see.

Help me see how we are all connected. Remind me that we belong to one another. Help me recognize that we each have the image of God stamped on us.

Richard Rohr goes on to say,

Faith is recognizing things in their deepest meaning. To be a person of faith means to see people as inherently connected to God and connected to yourself and therefore they must be worthy of love and dignity.

To me, when I see that connection between myself and someone else things make more sense and become clear. It makes sense why we would want to welcome the stranger. It leads to a deeper understanding of why we need to declare Black Lives Matter. It helps us see that people don't deserve to be treated less than and that the table is big enough for everyone.

We begin to see the error in exclusivity and that any kind of theology or policy that dehumanizes or marginalizes people is not truth.

We begin to recognize that string that connects each of us to one another.

This is my prayer for myself and for you today...

May we seek to be saints who see our connectedness. Who do not forget about each other.

May we have the courage to speak out against the systems, the actions and the policies that seek to erase and dehumanize people.

May we seek to be people of faith that see the world more deeply and realize that how we do anything is how we do everything.

May we seek to affirm the dignity in every person we meet.

May we move from just seeing others to recognizing the image of God represented in them.



We're all connected.

I see my story in your story.

A couple of months ago I went to a women's networking event at a conference and I wasn't sure what to expect. What happened exceeded my expectations. About twelve of us gathered in a hotel conference room, the facilitators wanted to create a space for women engaged in ministry to come together and share their stories. It became even more than that, it became a thin place. A moment where it seemed like there was just a thin curtain between heaven and earth.

The oldest woman in the group started with her story. A small painting sat at the head of the table, a painting of a small African American girl standing in a field with butterflies. While sharing her story, this woman said, I see myself in that picture. She went on to explain her life growing up in the deep south, her experience with the Civil Rights Movement and how she still sees slavery today, it just looks differently. Every sentence she spoke dripped with wisdom. She saw her story in the girl in the painting.

While another woman shared her story, everything she said deeply resonated with me. Her journey and season of life was so similar to mine, I actually couldn't believe it. Even a song she referenced that had been a lifeline for her in this season was the same song that had been a lifeline for me. I saw my story in her story.

This same woman talked about a business she was trying to start and when she said the name of it, the oldest woman said, "That has been my secret name for God all my years..." without any hint of surprise. They saw one another in each other's story. 

Another woman shared her story. A hard story of trauma and abuse that has led to confusion about where she should go and what she should do. She shared her deep hurt, but also her hopes and dreams. There was not a dry eye in the room while she shared. Tears flowed freely because everyone there acknowledged the depth of her pain and the vulnerability it took to let us in on her journey. It was a privilege for us to be entrusted with her story. After she shared, the same wise woman turned to her, looked her right in they eye and said, "I see my story in your story."

Looking in from the outside, one would see our group gathered and think most of us had nothing in common. We differed in age, race, socio-economic level, background, life stage, seemed our differences outnumbered our similarities. Yet, we could turn to each other and say, I see my story in your story. 

Wow. What powerful words. Sharing your story is a powerful thing. Making space to hear someone else's story is a powerful thing - it allows glimpses into another's soul. It makes us more human. It allows us to remember that we're all connected and that we all have been stamped with the image of God. We too easily forget that.


Immigration is more than just politics.

The title really says it all, but I feel like it merits some explanation. What I have to say people may disagree with, it may result in disagreements or confrontational conversations or inaccurate labeling or name calling, but it doesn't really matter. I have been too silent about this issue for awhile because of those very reasons, but I've realized that's not the way. The President's announcement last night and the many negative comments I've seen since, especially from my Christian brothers and sisters is sickening. Because here's the deal...immigration isn't about just politics.

Immigration is about people. Immigration is about human beings. Immigration is about individuals who were made in the image of God just like everyone else and who deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.

Whether you are a Republican or a Democrat, an Obama hater or lover, a Conservative or Liberal...that shouldn't matter if you claim to be a follower of Christ. Our faith mandates that we move beyond those basic labels and that our ultimate label and job is to be citizens of a greater Kingdom, of God's Kingdom. We are called to usher in the shalom community...where there is peace and justice and wholeness and equality and where we're not divided by our politics, but where our main concern is people and loving each other well.

President Obama's announcement tonight gave me so much joy. Joy because people I know and love are able to step out of the shadows and not live their life in fear. People who are here because they had no choice but to leave their home out of fear for their lives and the best way to do that because of our majorly broken immigration system was to do it "illegally". People who contribute more to the social and moral fabric of our community better than most and who want to make things right.

These friends, these families, these children. They are why I don't care if President Obama "went outside his legal rights". Frankly, people who are so focused on the politics of this and continue to direct their hate and disrespect to Obama are totally missing the point, especially those who claim to follow Jesus. Because Jesus said...I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me. Jesus has a lot to say about welcoming the stranger, loving people and loving those who are forgotten and on the margins...and actually he wasn't even that concerned about politics.

How are we welcoming the strangers really? I hope and pray the Church is able to lead the way and by example putting people over politics, hospitality over rejection, acceptance over judgement and love over hate because that is what we are supposed to be about.