Two rivers coming together often create turbulence. I’ve used that image in marriage counselling so many times! And it’s one I know is true. When two lives join, when two families join it takes awhile to sort out how the new family will live.
The last few weeks I’ve been reading from two different sources. One stream of books takes me deep into our spiritual life, how we flow from the Source of All Life, how we are all interconnected, each person, plant and stone is connected. That stream leads me to joy. The other stream takes me into the social structures that have determined the lives of people within our communities, to the segregation laws, to public attachment to violence and control. That stream shows me fear. What happens when fear and joy come together?
I’ve been reading Huston Smith’s work from the late 1950’s on world religions. I wonder what would have happened in my life if I had found him in my search in 1970’s! He is speaking to the questions that I was asking: what do we want, what is the purpose of life, why are we here? He looks at the major faiths and how people have wrestled with these same questions over thousands of years. I so often felt alone in my questions, but clearly I wasn’t. I was part of a huge stream of people that search out meaning in life and that’s what gives birth to religion as a solid part of human society. As I dip into the expansive spiritual world he describes, I feel at home, and hear so many faith traditions connecting us all. It feels good.
I’ve also been reading Isabel Wilkerson’s latest book ‘Caste’ and it troubles my heart. I realize it’s from an American perspective and to read a Canadian version would be instructive, but I have enough ties to America to know connection to that story and considering their place in the world it’s an important book. I haven’t finished it yet, so I’m still digesting, as much as I can what she documents, but so far she’s begun to outline the social structure that is deeper than racism, that subjugates one human to another in brutal and binding ways. In the last section I read she traces the origins of caste in both India and America to their spiritual roots. Both countries used their holy books to justify the ranking of people and the resulting control of a dominant group. It’s chilling.
How can what I love and that leads me to joy, lead to such brutality? How can humans read the same holy books and some come away ready to enslave and dominate and others ready to serve, even unto death? And the enslavement isn’t ancient history. The last laws were repealed within my adult lifetime and the effect of those laws continues long after they were officially repealed. How can it be?
Troubled waters today. I think sometimes it’s good and necessary to go through troubled waters.
Love and prayers
Mystic in Motion
Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire
Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder