Last night my daughter, Tess, and I went to our first Kirtan performance. For those of you unfamiliar with Kirtan, it's kind of like a chant-based sign along. Traditionally the chants would be in Sanskrit, but Lobo Marino, the duo performing last night at Mind the Mat, sang mostly in English. While Tess and I had never heard these songs, we found it easy and fun to pick them up and sing along.
I've been contemplating what to write today. A lot has happened in the past few days. Whether the hat you wear is red or pink, chances are you found unity with your tribe on Friday or Saturday. As someone who promotes unity, I've been reflecting on what that means. Is it okay to feel unity with one tribe and not another, or do we need to find the unity among us all? If we do want to build unity among all, what would that look like?
As Tess and I sang, "Standing Like a Tree," last night, the lyrics gave me a vision of how we can work toward a deeper unity.
"Standing like a tree with my roots dug down
My branches wide and open.
Come down the rain
Come down the sun
Come down the fruit to a heart that is open to be
Standing like a tree with my roots dug down . . . "[repeat]
Feel what that feels like to have roots dug down into the earth. Those roots are who you are. They are your values. They represent your unique connection with yourself, everyone and everything on earth.
Then look up at those wide and open branches. Those branches are your connection points to the world, to other people's beliefs that are like and unlike your own. If your branches are wide and open they can receive vastly different points of view that inform your roots' ability to grow a sturdy and well-developed system.
Sometimes the branches receive rain in the form of opposing viewpoints. Sometimes they receive sun in the form of affirmations and love. If we embrace it all – the rain that is hard to bear and the sun that gives us warmth – we can grow the fruit. If we are open only to the sun, there is a drought. If we are open only to the rain, there is a flood. We need both.
When we're securely rooted in who we are and our connection with ourselves and each other, we can be open to ideas that might otherwise threaten our world view. Plants grow strong root systems with suitable soil and deep watering. People grow strong root systems with diverse knowledge and deep understanding.
Sometimes when we open deeply and feel the rain it doesn't feel so good. That's when we need the sun, our trusted communities of like-minded people, to help us feel warm again. The sun is so important.
But always remember that to build unity, we must go back into the rain. We must open our arms wide to people with roots different than ours. We might just find that our own root systems begin to grow in a slightly different pattern thanks to a broader world view.
Staying in the comfortable echo chambers of our tribe can feel really good. Just don't stay there forever. Opening to the rain gives us the possibility of growing the fruit of unity.
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