Aug 05 2010

Toward a True Kinship: A Summery Reflection

Published by at 10:49 pm under Minister's Musings

His Holiness the Dalai Lama is coming to the San José Convention Center on Tuesday, October 12 (! The teaching is titled “Eight Verses of Training the Mind”—from an 11th-century Buddhist text—with the subtitle “Awakening the Heart of Compassion.” After His Holiness speaks, the Silicon Valley Interreligious Council, or SiVIC—the interfaith group I have been helping to launch this summer—will lead a small gathering to further the interreligious dialogue.

We diverse faith leaders are taking our cue from the Dalai Lama’s latest book, Toward a True Kinship of Faiths: How the World’s Religions Can Come Together. The book helps us to see where and how the different world’s religions converge, without ever losing their distinctiveness. The choice of the word kinship is perfect, for to be “kin”—to be truly, deeply related, one to another—means that each of us living beings is both our own unique individual self and is fundamentally part of the same family. We share “convergences” (in our genetic material, our longings, our capacities for life, our need for life’s basic elements), but like all families, we also struggle to understand and embrace each other across our differences. The Dalai Lama invites us to move toward an understanding that honors this kinship—an understanding that will transform the way we live.

In late June I offered a worship service suggesting “guides for the summer,” each of which just might transform our understanding of kinship. I invited us to find ways to:

·         quiet ourselves and experience our kinship with creatures and things beyond our usual spheres

·         step outside our comfort zone and learn something new

·         get into our bodies and revel in our senses

·         pay attention to the beauty around us.


So tell me: How is your summer going? Have you followed any of these guides, and if so, where have they led you? It’s not too late to give one or more of them a try! What will you bring “home” with you to First Unitarian from these summer journeys—what will the water you bring to Homecoming on September 12 represent?

Following these guides this summer has brought me to a sense of kinship across border, which keeps surprising me. (Ah! So this is what it means to “practice what we preach”! J) Lately, when I stand under a tree, for instance, I feel it growing and changing ever so slowly beside me; its life is so palpable that it almost seems to be breathing. I marvel at the deep crevices in its bark, at the angles of the branches, at its reach upward to sky and downward to earth; these are so different from my human skin, angles, and reach … yet we are kin, converging in our dependence on this earth, this air, this light and dark. “Thank you, my brother,” I say, hoping that it knows how to translate the language of Human into the idiom of Tree.

As I write, I am poised for takeoff on my next journey to Arizona, standing on the side of love July 28-29 with all peoples who are suffering from the anti-immigrant law SB 1070. Truly, the law affects a wide swath: immigrants without documents, immigrants with documents, United States citizens of many generations, First Nations peoples who are not “immigrants” at all, other peoples of color who came to this country not of their own choosing, and all human beings, who are diminished wherever fear reigns. I won’t be comfortable in Arizona, but I will be on the ground with people I do not know, converging in our commitment to creating a world that recognizes human dignity, love of family, and the longing to survive and thrive in all their unique forms. My sense of kinship grows wider and deeper.

Together we here at FUCSJ will look at kinship when we take up the topics of identities, immigration, and pride (or rather, “PRIDE!”) on August 8, 15, and 22 in worship. Please join us! To learn more about what our PACT team is discovering on our chosen area of immigration and antiracism, come to our next LOC (local organizing committee) meeting, Thursday, August 12, at 7 p.m. in the Ramsden Fireside Room.

So, my friends: What summer guides have you followed? What new kinship have you discovered? What inner and outer journeys will the water you bring to Homecoming represent? We all are eager to hear! I’ll see you in church!


With joy and anticipation for the year ahead, Nancy

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