This morning when I checked my emails, I found several from a south bay environmental group that I had completely forgotten about. The string of messages began with a member expressing hope, in one simple sentence, that the group would start meeting again. Another suggested contacting a particular church to see if they might have meeting space available. A third member wrote that while she was in favor of the group reconvening, she preferred to leave religious institutions out of it. She did not want to risk putting people off. She further explained that not everyone, including herself is Christian, and despite the fact that she could hang out with Christians, she did not want the group risk becoming a Christian group.
I deleted the email string, but shortly retrieved it. I could not help but respond in the spirit of trying to remind everyone that all sorts of groups, both Christian and non-Christian meet in church buildings, and I encouraged them to investigate the church mentioned, as well as New Community of Faith. I also added that everyone should try to come together over our pressing environmental issues. While no one responded directly to my email, several of the postings that followed left me pondering how we can be good neighbors in this time of such diversity.
I did find it interesting that in one of the later emails, what surfaced is that the first church mentioned is actually pondering some important questions about how to turn their lawn into gardens, and then donating the produce to various agencies trying to address hunger issues in the south bay. Maybe if that information had come out sooner, a few emails, including some that were a bit troubling, could have been avoided. However, this string of messages has reminded me how critical it is to try to remain open to one another. I will never believe that walling ourselves off in separate camps will prove to be a viable solution. Most of us simply live in too close proximity to one another. We need one another. Some Christians do put people off – I am sure I have. However, most of us are simply trying to learn how best to live in community, serve God, tend to the earth, and serve the living body of Christ on earth today. Numerous people of other faiths or no faith are trying to do the same thing, but may use different words. That is okay. Let’s just remember that we are all trying to find our way, and we all have work to do. And part of that work is learning to do it together.
I leave you with a poem I received through a colleague’s newsletter:
God Hunger by Michael Ryan
When the immutable accidents of birth–
parentage, hometown, all the rest–
no longer anchor this fiction of the self
and its incessant I me mine,
then words won’t be like nerves in a stump
crackling with messages that end up nowhere,
and I’ll put on the wind like a gown of light linen
and go be a king in a field of weeds.