As we follow the increasing frequency of violent events, of white supremacists, of hatred toward immigrants, and aggression toward the other, people of good will are searching to find avenues of healing and wholeness. At the Village Exchange Center, in all our areas of service and empowerment, we are engaged with many folks who are working for justice within the presupposition of the ultimate value of all people. I feel compelled to say a few words about the inside of these commitments, from the perspective of faith, because once we find ourselves aligned in the fullness of our humanity with the purpose of God, all actions requiring discernment toward others and ways of being in general will follow more easily and securely.
A spirituality of belonging usefully frames the progression of the journey of faith. The reality of God, however expressed in the varied traditions and ways of faith, intends us toward an integrated union with the created world, the human family, and Godself. One way to express the path to belonging is to see the unfolding of faith follows a pattern, a trajectory from loneliness to longing to prayer to love, a love which gathers us and unites us in every human connection.
The greatest human suffering is isolation, aloneness, alienation. Despair and violence are the inevitable outcomes when there is insufficient light breaking into experience of the isolated individual and the shared reinforcing isolation of certain groups. When there is sufficient light—a light which always in some way issues from some kind of relationship leading to more relationship—loneliness gives rise to longing, at first perhaps a mute longing, but one which because it drives our search and is already grounded in latent possibilities, begins to discover purpose, areas of meaning which are always an expression of belonging is some form. It bears on us daily when we encounter and engage those who are caught up in despair and violence to counter with whatever possibilities of light the situation presents.
Longing gathers the human experience to anticipate and move toward its destiny. It is the already groping, bubbling-up presence of the end point of our journey. When longing begins to discover its voice, it is discovering prayer. Prayer is our response to an understanding that we belong to something bigger, who is the source and creator of all that is. We learn all our relationships with creation and other human beings, although necessary and comprising our humanity, do not plumb the depth of our yearning. All genuine relationships, the beauty of creation, life with our pet-mates, the mutuality of friendship, although in a sense complete in themselves, spur and increase our longing. We are made for God, and through our union with God, seeing and loving through God, we are joined with everything and everybody. Deeper dimensions of prayer involve listening and surrender and are therefore about transformation. And because it is a love that comprehends and precedes us, it is disarming to the core; it is a true transformation. Prayer simultaneously increases and satisfies our longing because it voices the exchange of love happening at the heart of the world.
I hope those who are involved with the care of people and who come from some faith perspective will find some resonance here with the trajectory of faith and belonging. Belonging ultimately has to do with the unity of all held in God.
Given our awareness today, we think and act locally and globally. We can feel overwhelmed by our concerns. While there is no turning back in our commitments to our fellow human beings, we can take comfort and draw strength from the fact that each of us is engaged in a work much larger than we are capable and the success of our work does not reside in our power. There is peace, and joy in the awareness of our participation in life, and its source, the Life of life. If we are inherently connected to the whole human body, in a myriad of physical, emotional, and psychic relations, but most significantly connected at the source, God, we can take solace that we are channels of grace, and that where we touch one person, we touch the whole body, the whole world.