The words you have just read came from a recent ‘Letter from America’ from Rev. John Wingfield, a Unity Minister who worked in the UK a few years ago, but is now back in the States. We feature his Letters regularly on the Unity Friends Room.
Here is the rest of the letter which we think you will find very powerful and moving.
Work to do. For those of us on the spiritual path in this life, the journey is inner and outer simultaneously. Another way of looking at it is that our spiritual life is personal and collective at the same time. This is why we have spiritual community, such as Unity, the Anglican Communion, Roman Catholic Church as well as Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu and various other spiritual communities of faith. Here in America the sense of community has been fractured. With a new president that has insulted and/or threatened women, people of color, immigrants, England, Germany, Sweden, Asians, and just about everyone except Russia, it reflects how we feel inside… turbulent.
“To whom, therefore, shall I liken the men of this nation? And to what are they like? They are like boys who sit in the street, and call to their friends and say, We have sung to you but you did not dance and we have wailed to you but you did not weep.”
Just as our personal lives go, when things seem to be working for us and we are going with the flow: then something happens to upset us and show us we have work to do, we have a long way to go. As within, so without, as above, so below. This is a universal law. What is happening here in the USA for many of us regarding out political and social disorder over recent months is challenging. For me it is more obvious that many things that I thought we had taken care of, that we had overcome were not resolved but were submerged, more like buried, smoldering coals. We’re talking about racial and religious intolerance, racial, sexual and gender injustices and decency for all people, women, children, elders, as well as all women, men, children and all people of the human race. A main synagogue in Seattle was vandalized just the other day.
“Love your enemies, bless anyone who curses you, do good to anyone who hates you, and pray for those who carry you away by force and persecute you… for if you love only those who love you, what reward will you have?”
The shadow side of our collective humanity has shown itself again; the “Dark Side” as Darth Vader has reminded us over the past 40 years. Disgrace, disrespect and disappointment have ramped up to deception, distraction, deflection, deceit and deconstruction. And this shift has catalyzed or re-stimulated fear, pain, anger, hatred and other feelings in many people. Meanwhile the controlling party has aggressively worked to make changes that favor their constituents and patrons, especially wealthy owners, corporations, bankers, brokers and conservative evangelical Christians. White supremacy is on the rise. Just as it was from 1860s through the 1960s, although it was stifled by the Civil Rights Movements and Federal laws to insure education and voting rights.
“And if you salute only your brothers, what is it more that you do? Do not even the tax collectors do the same thing?”
What I am trying to do is to constantly take whatever I see, hear or experience into my heart and treat it with compassion, breathe it in and hold it all with empathy. Yet even during meditation, sometimes a voice or an image may crowd in to obstruct my attention or distract me from my purpose in silent prayer. Then I redouble in my prayer of the heart and hone my focus on the prayer and my breath.
“Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit indeed is ready but the body is weak.”
While violence, hate and lawlessness are increasing toward minorities, including women, Jews and people of color from India, Middle East, Mexico and Africa, my heart cries. Then I breathe deep. I have a whole lot of deep breathing to do. As I read or hear the news of the deconstruction of health care that favors the wealthy and disfavors the poor and elderly, I have to remember to breathe deeply. The new healthcare law being debated which seems to provide tax cuts for wealthy and insurance cost increases for the poor and elderly gets me shaking my head and breathing deeply. When I read about Environmental Protection Agency Director denying human responsibility for pollution and the long-term effects of climate change I feel a sinking feeling in my stomach and I remember to breathe. When they revoke clean water regulations and clean air in favor of mining and auto industry profits I feel deep concern for the earth, air, water of our home planet. When politicians reduce human needs and health programs to budget lines it becomes easy to move and remove line items. Balancing the budget is a good idea but not at the expense of vulnerable people, the environment and health care after those in power started two long-term wars and gave tax breaks to the wealthy and many big corporations.
“For I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you took me in.”
This time and space in America is a real opportunity, actually a true test of our faith and our depth of spiritual consciousness. In a time when the call for hope has been shouted down by fear based separation of races, of peoples, of sexes and sexual identities it calls us to hold to our faith, hope and love, “the greatest of these is love.”
In a time when social order and civil discourse have been stirred up by hate and blatant ignorance of people who appear different, it’s a time to remember and hold to order, kindness and compassion. I think of all the time I spent teaching about the law of Divine Order, equating it with Ilya Prigogine’s Nobel Prize winning Theory of Dissipative Systems. That is, when things are breaking down on one level that they are reorganizing on another, perhaps higher level. This is where I have hope.
“And his fame was heard throughout Syria; so they brought to Him all who were badly afflicted with different diseases and those who were tormented with pains and the insane and epileptics and cripples; and He healed them.”
Keep Calm and Carry On with our spiritual practices and awareness. I had a friend, who was a Licensed Unity Teacher at my last church, who grew up in London during the Blitz and when he turned 17 he joined the Home Guard. He was among those brave men who brushed and pitched burning shrapnel off building rooftops in London after raids of fire bombers and rockets. He told me about the significance of the saying “Keep Calm and Carry On,” with a deep knowing smile. Today it takes on another practical meaning. Practicing prayer, meditation, community gatherings, acts of compassion and service, as well as simply being kind to one another are ways we can join together to make a difference.
“Inasmuch as you have done it to the least of one of our brethren you did it to me.”
Our spiritual journey is not solitary and subjective but collective and we are all in this together. As John Donne suggested, no one is an island entire of itself, everyone is part of the main. So we should think, act and live together to promote ways that bring greater harmony, cooperation and peace rather than separatism, fear and aggression that is gripping the USA and Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia today. We can find the Middle East, Africa and Asia within us and do the inner work.
“The Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said to him, arise, take the infant boy and his mother and flee to Egypt and stay there until I tell you; for (Herod) is ready to demand the child in order to destroy him.”
It always comes back to this, to do our inner work. Prayer, meditation and service with compassion and sharing empathy are key practices on our spiritual journey and ones we can do on our own and in community. We live in a polarized world, with right or wrong, good or evil, us or them, and this has been accentuated in recent years with a heightened sense of paired opposites with two polarities stuck in struggle, be that in the world, in politics, at work or in personal relationships.
Prayer and meditation open us to a third force with inner potential and creativity that can allow a new possibility to arise. G. I. Gurdjieff called this the Law of Three, which says that in every new arising there are three forces involved: affirming, denying and reconciling. It’s time to reconcile.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself.”
We can find our way through this and every challenge through prayer, meditation and being kind, compassionate and real. If we are willing and daring, we can.
“Love one another as I have loved you.”