The soul quality I’d like to explore this month is Oneness. This is the idea that we are all interconnected, that we live in union with one another. It’s a big concept and it can be hard to wrap one’s mind around it, let alone live into it as a soul quality day after day.
For me, oneness asks me to not only love what God loves, but it also challenges me to
understand that my well-being is tied up with the well-being of others. In other words, if I love God, I can only be as comfortable, safe, and secure as the least comfortable, least safe, and least secure creatures.
Understanding this makes me anxious because, of course, I can much more easily choose to ignore God. I can choose instead to believe I am as comfortable, safe, and secure as my material wealth and situation allow.
But, as J. K. Rowling so often reminded us, it is our choices that define who we are. And it is my choice to love God. So I need to learn to live with the anxiety that oneness brings, understanding that it is a holy anxiety and one that is going to push me to stretch out my heart, mind, and arms in order to build understanding, advocate, witness, and serve. And to forgive myself when I fall short and spend time in reflection (study, prayer, reconciliation, waiting) again and again to right myself with God.
The idea of oneness shows up in the first chapter of Genesis in Hebrew and Christian scriptures. The creation story begins by telling us that we are all created in the image of God. Other faith traditions have their own basis for oneness and most also have their own version of the golden rule to love others the same as we love ourselves.
The 14th Century mystic, Julian of Norwich offers some beautiful expressions of oneness. She states, “the love of God creates in us such a oneing that when it is truly seen, no person can separate themselves from another person.”
So, how can our reading lives help us to explore and grow in oneness?
One function the Soul Reading journal attempts to serve is to build our own awareness of our unity with one another as well as our uniqueness. Two questions in the Reflection step of Soul Reading (link) get to the heart of this.
The first: how does this story help me appreciate the diversity of people, places, and circumstances in the world?
The second: how does this story help me appreciate the universality of people, places, and circumstances in the world?
Of course, we can also explore and grow into oneness through thoughtful selection of reading material. And I believe lessons in oneness can be gleaned from many types of books.
I’d like to end by acknowledging that American public life is deeply troubling to many of us right now. As a society we seem to be in deep denial about our interconnectedness. It is this denial that inspires a unique reading list for this month reminding us of our interconnectedness. It is a set of books from four modern female “prophets” who changed a lot of thinking in their day and continue to resonate today. You can check out that list here.