The great African American civil rights leader, Rev Howard Thurman, famously wrote:
“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
Being told by a doctor that I must sit still in the same position for more than 10 days with my head face down has turned my world upside down. I am naturally so kinetic, so perpetually in motion, I thought this was an impossible request from the doctor bordering on torture! Yet this discipline to embrace a different ‘default body energy’ has bestowed precious gifts. I have experienced the world as so many do, and it has ‘opened my eyes.’ Simply walking down the street with only one working eye can be hazardous. I realized so many people walk amongst us without all the senses and powers most of us possess and take for granted. My love has stirred to new depths because of this gift.
My surgeries have convinced me more how important access to Health Care is for all people. My conviction here is not political but rooted in the depth of our faith’s First Principle. One cannot “affirm and promote the worth and dignity of every human being” without also affirming their right to health care. Love is the most certain path to that affirmation of human dignity and care. Divine love showers us all – the rich and the poor, all races, all religions, all genders, all abilities, all orientations, and every political party affiliation. Since we are all expressions of divine love, we are all called to love one another. Since the Holy loves you, I am duty-bound to love you, too, and to demand your worth and dignity be affirmed by our nation and its law and customs.
The vision of the First Principle is to stretch ourselves to embody a higher love – to challenge ourselves to love those who might seem least “worthy” of our attention and care. This is the challenge that makes the first principle a spiritual goal. Spiritual goals are lofty by definition; they exalt us and improve our world simply by our striving towards them. They are not supposed to come easily or seem like second nature. We are expected to fall short, and yet to keep trying to love even more in spite of our, or others’, shortcomings. This striving towards higher love composes our glory.
So I keep an eye out (pun intended!) for more ways to amplify the volume and impact of my love, and to encourage others to do the same. Only by stretching wide the tent of humanity until every living person feels welcomed and affirmed will we begin to see the fruits of the possibilities of our First Principle. So as I look out at this community, its amazing history of learning and service, its deep commitments of spirit and reverence, its awesome servant leaders, I see at least one group of people who are ready for the challenge. It is with extreme gratitude that I have been called with Rev Anya to live that higher love with all of you. Working with you on the sacred mission of this congregation brings me to life. Over the next month, find the time to share with me – what makes you come alive?
In Faith and Freedom,
Rev. Scott Sammler-Michael