Connection and Stranger No More

Living Table is a part of New Branches

Outdoor New Branches sign "A home for faith and community" - Depicting Spirit Catholic Community, Lake Nokomis Lutheran, and Living Table UCC; image licensed for Living Table's use

Do you find it fathomable that stardust from the beginning of creation is literally a part of our ancestors, of you and me and generations to come?

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In her book, See No Stranger: A Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love, Valarie Kaur wrote,

“What has been an ancient spiritual truth is now increasingly verified by science: We are all indivisibly part of one another. We share a common ancestry with everyone and everything alive on earth. The air we breathe contains atoms that have passed through the lungs of ancestors long dead. Our bodies are composed of the same elements created deep inside the furnaces of long-dead stars. We can look upon the face of anyone or anything around us and say – as a moral declaration and a spiritual, cosmological, and biological fact: You are a part of me I do not yet know.”

Do you find it fathomable that stardust from the beginning of creation is literally a part of our ancestors, of you and me and generations to come? That we may ALL be relatives of each other in this cosmic way – no matter our outward appearances, no matter what language we speak or religion we do or don’t practice – is mind boggling!

This notion of kinship challenges the practice we humans have of defining ourselves as distinctly separate and different, even from those whose appearance is like our own. This cosmic kinship also calls into question the human tendency to set oneself apart from others or to diminish the value of another based on skin color, hair texture or beliefs about deities and sacred practices.

No doubt we are living in an era in which COVID is not the only virus running amok, infecting and killing millions of humans. Much more virulent are the viruses of divide-and-conquer, fear-and-rancor, or my-needs-always-trump-the-common-good. Even though science verifies that we are ALL relatives, some fear our likenesses as much as our differences! Any such demonization polarizes us from them and NO vaccine can neutralize the fear that feeds that!

Valarie Kaur thinks fierce, revolutionary Love can! Jesus did, too! So did Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Theresa and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King and now the Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis and the Reverend William Barber and the Rev. Dr. Yvette Flunder and SO many others!

Wouldn’t it be fantastic if we could sign up for THAT kind of LOVE vaccine?!? One poke and done – or maybe 3 pokes and a couple of boosters . . . But there is NO such pharmacy around, is there? NO shortcut to this immune-boosting kind of LOVE . . .

There is only practice. Practice does make possible. Frequent personal and communal practice makes more possible. Where do we start? Right where we are . . . tend to our own ‘bidness’ first: the business of loving and forgiving ourselves in fierce, revolutionary ways. No shortcuts. Just long-haul one step at a time. A walk-and-talk with a friend now and then.

Perhaps MLK’s simple sentence could be our common mantra, “I have decided to stick with love.”

Want to meet me at the corner?

Rev. Elaine

About Elaine Kirkland

Rev. Elaine Kirkland was the sabbatical pastor for Living Table UCC during Summer 2022.

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