Saturday, 30 January 2010

Honouring our unique gift

In a universe of time and place no two snowflakes and no two human beings have ever been found the same. Within our universe exist billions of galaxies and within each galaxy exist billions of stars. No two galaxies have ever been found the same. At the opposite end of the scale scientist are discovering that similar comparisons exists within our microscopic world While the Bible tells us that God created each person in his image it should remind us that we are each unique reflections of the creator's infinite reality. We cannot even imagine what God looks like except to look more deeply into the heart of creation itself. We cannot expect to have two people to experience creation in the same way. Nor should we expect them to express their experience in the same way. It is simply illogical to ask any two people to agree to any particular set of 'beliefs. Each person will only understand these religious formulas and beliefs in the context of their own unique experience. Recognizing and respecting the unique qualities of each person therefore may call for a quantum leap for some who believe that unity requires a strict adherence to a set of rules. Our hope for this troubled world calls for expressions of diversity – not similarity. The desire for similarity creates jealousy and the evil of competition. Similarity restricts our experience of God by limiting our experience of God to manmade rules and regulations. Diversity opens the world to infinite possibilities and allows us to awaken the hidden God within. Sacred scripture for each religion is filled with stories of people's unique experience of God. So too we must also live our own unique and sacred story in the presence of our Creator.

Many of our religious institutions follow a prescribed doctrine of beliefs. To challenge these beliefs is often considered heresy. Through ages past and among some extreme examples of religious fundamentalism these challenges are often met with threats and acts of deathly violence. Strangely enough these very negative responses ignore the infinite nature of the Creator they are trying to protect. Our Creator does not need our protection otherwise we are merely confusing him with gods of a lesser nature. While Institutional religions have been largely responsible for creating institutional responses to honour our God they seldom encourage its followers to look beyond the immediate. This would require change. And institutional religion fears change. They fear change because it takes our unique experience out of their control.

Today I met a man who had recently lost his wife due to a very lengthy illness. In his grief he shared how people had tried to comfort him with well meaning phrases such as 'time heals all wounds', or 'your wife is now in a better place', etc. Tragically he shared how these words did little to lessen his present pain. In conclusion our friend tried to diminish his own pain by stating 'Oh, well I suppose I'm lucky compared to the people in Haiti' If he could not recognize his own pain as a unique experience, how could we expect him to overcome the grief for others? What have we learned about the gift of grief? Do we not know that it is the God within that grieves for us and with us?

As a former Catholic I understood that the sacrament of communion meant that we honoured the gift of the God within. Upon reception of that sacrament we were called to reach out to others and creation in a manner that reveals God's Revelation to the world. What an amazing Creator we have knowing that we might fail miserably within mere seconds of receiving his unique gift. Communion begins as a simple gathering of unique individuals, regardless of race colour or religion. And, regardless of how it is celebrated, must be understood as sharing without dividing. Real communion is the starting point calling for our unique God like response to others and the rest of creation. It must therefore never be celebrated is a mere ritual. Communion as celebrated in the Catholic sense therefore represents a unique way of celebrating the God within. However, our Creator does not make demands as to how we celebrate his divine indwelling. Honouring the God within our neighbour it is not about membership to any religious institution nor is it about rituals and Holy buildings and statues. It is simply a response to the quiet voice within that would have us accept all others as equals and unique gifts from our Creator.

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