Wow. What a week it’s been. Could anyone have predicted this election cycle, including the plot twists and turns that happened weekly during the past two years? Like many Americans, I can say that I have never experienced the divisiveness and hatred that I’ve witnessed during these past two years. Like most Americans, I can also say, “I’m glad that’s over.” But is it, really? Something ugly was stirred up in our collective reality. Can we ignore it? Can we afford to? I can tell you from painful experience that ignoring a festering wound by covering it with a Band-Aid just makes things worse.
Recently I had the great good fortune to hear a sermon by the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States, the Most Rev. Michael Curry. We were in St. Augustine Episcopal Church in Gary, Indiana. Bishop Curry is a humble man who exudes joy and love. If you ever have the chance to hear him speak, do it!
Bishop Curry’s sermon was on one of his favorite themes: the Jesus Movement. He shared with us that Jesus didn’t come to start a church or a religion. He came to start a revolution. He said that the revolution is based on two commandments: Love God and Love Your Neighbor as Yourself. He said that if we did those two things, God could change the world.
I’ve been thinking about that since I heard him speak. I think that no matter what religion a person is, or even if a person ascribes to no faith tradition at all, this is a message for all humanity.
What would that look like? What would it look like if each of us committed to loving the person we were with in each moment? Now, I didn’t say “like” the person we are with or “agree” with the person we are with. I said “love.” To love someone is to wish him well; to want good things for her; to recognize God reflected in his eyes.
[To like someone, I would argue, means to want to spend time with that person. There are plenty of people I love with whom I don’t necessarily want to spend time, nor with whom I agree, but I do wish them well and want good things for them.]
Authenticity is a word that I hear tossed about more and more casually. It’s a word that, to me, still holds power. Authenticity means being true, honest, vulnerable. That requires courage. It requires a mental and emotional stance that states, “Here I am. I am willing to take a chance to remove the façade I usually show the world.” It means, deep, honest listening. It means letting down one’s guard. It means being fully present and withholding judgment. It means loving the person you are with enough to care about them just because s/he is a human and thus deserving the presence of your best self.