By Sr. Doreen, SSJD.
Sister Doreen’s Reflections.
The Treasure of Unity
Next week we begin the week of prayer for Unity on January 18th – the Feast of the Confession of St. Peter and end the week of prayer January 25th – the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. Sharing some reflections around the theme of unity might give us pause to ponder …. This year the theme centers itself around Matthew 2:2 – We Saw the star in the East, and we came to worship him – a symbol of the diversity of peoples and a sign of that universal longing and hunger for truth, for goodness and for beauty. It is also a revelation of God’s longing for the unity of all peoples.
“Unity is a precious gift, a treasure of the heart,
When the beloved in each one seeks the beloved in the other,
Unity is like a holy oil pouring down upon our heads,
Flowing out across our bodies, sinking deep into our souls.
Unity comes to us like dew, settling down upon each mountain,
Hallowing all and each it touches.
In unity God blesses us, with a taste of life forever.”
(Lynn Bauman translation)
Lynn Bauman has taken the psalm which in its original text was focused almost exclusively upon the Hebrew people, and based on the original, has turned it into a universal hymn in praise of the principle of unity. Both the original and this translation praise the agreement of different tribes to live together in unity.
We all know and have experienced the disruption of dissent, how it fractures and fragments human life. I think that we can all agree that we need to recognize that, somehow, we alone do not have the natural capacity to bring about unity, peace and harmony to all situations. In the words of Mother Teresa “if we have no peace, no unity with each other it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”
What this psalm is proclaiming is that unity is a gift – a fragile gift – which can so easily be broken. Together, we need to ask God to grant us unity and peace, to teach us unity and peace and to guide our steps in the way of unity and peace. It is a gift – unity is a gift – that creates a community that is open to receiving that gift, and open to doing the hard work belonging to each other! For me that is what Sisterhood or Brotherhood means: a community bond that is deep when open to the gift of unity. I believe our spirituality as a community celebrates, longs for, and sometimes aches for that unity that transcends any and all of our human dualisms (good and bad, higher and lower, smarter, better, more talented etc.). it is a gift offered to us that also challenges us work for and long for a more unitive existence – a bringing together into harmony opposites and allowing them to live in balance. This is a very special gift – which so many never experience or find in life, but it is, I believe, offered to us through our own hard work of learning and practice: the gift of intentional spirituality which is a form of wisdom and interior unity. It is hard work and can only be done while holding tightly to God’s hand asking for God’s grace and gift. It is a gift that is needed today – that gift of learning to live together in a deep unity of love with differences.
Joan Chittister wrote in ‘The Monastic Heart’: “ … people who recognize the simple, holy beauty of each other … it is a very important kind of relationship … here everyone is welcome … here everyone comes and feels at home.”
It is our shared equality that makes us powerful – it is what we do together that makes our voices heard and our commitments clear. It is the common heart and communal support that enables this gift of unity
In our times of silence and meditation it may be that God is calling us to ponder how we come to know and to maintain this gift of inner unity, how we share and enable each other in our hunger for God and how we open ourselves to bringing about the unity of all peoples.
A Poem by Joyce Rupp: It Is Possible
It is possible to become so one with Earth that every flower perfumes the soul,
Every snowflake sends icy softness dancing through veins,
Every drop of rain trickles down vessels of the heart,
Every cloud in the sky sails along song lines of the spirit,
Every earthquake rumbles in the gut, every tide of the sea moves in and out of self.
It is possible to become one with Earth
Just as it is possible to become one with all people,
Their pain, my pain,
Their joy, my joy,
Their struggle and delight an echo of my own.
It is possible to become one.
It is possible.