I am a Colorado girl and as such, I love my Aspen trees. The delicate rustle of their leaves in the breeze somehow speaks to my very soul and this time of year, I anxiously await their beautiful gold colors as they cover the mountainside in prelude to snow.
One of the interesting things about Aspen is that each colony – regardless of its size – is a “clonal” colony. In other words, all of the trees in a given colony are identical in their characteristics and share the same root system. It’s a community that survives because of the nourishment of the whole.
I thought about this the other day when a friend and I were talking about the fact that there are 10 dreams that nearly all of us have at one time or another: dreams like falling, being chased, being unprepared for a test or exam of some sort and appearing naked in an inappropriate place. Somehow, though we are all raised differently, live in different parts of the world, and are raised to believe sometimes entirely different things, we are interconnected in our dreams.
So why is it that when it comes to faith, we ignore our interconnection and start putting up barriers?
As communities of faith, we are supposed to survive by creating a “colony” – a group of people who support one another, nourish one another, and grow together for generations. On the face of it, this the exactly what we have done, but the divisions that we have created both within the Christian community and outside of it are not.
For those of us that attend church on a somewhat regular basis, we tend to migrate to a place where our ideologies and philosophies aren’t really tested or stretched. Sure, every now and then a little wrench will get thrown into the works, but for the most part, I have noticed that our churches become little “clonal colony” of their own; each of us comfortable with the teaching and beliefs of those around us and disconnecting ourselves from those who think and act differently. The Episcopalian church may sit next to the Methodist Church and they may even get along, but throw in a Unitarian Church? OMG – let the theological warfare begin!
I know. It’s human nature for us to seek like-minded people and congregate with them. I get it, but I don’t think it’s either right or God’s desire for us.
As a Christian, I am horrified by the way we have allowed our perception of what God wants to create this air of superiority that has helped to build the anti-Christian and atheist movements growing around us.What would happen if we all reached outside of our little colony and connected with that colony next to us that thinks things just slightly – or even significantly – differently? What if we really stretched and connected our root system to the synagogue around the corner or the Buddhist temple down the street?
Eee-gads! Not that!
How could we possibly integrate with “those” people that don’t think anything like we do?
Well, maybe I’m crazy here, but didn’t God create each of them as well? And if we believe that God is good and that all of God’s creation is good, then it only follows that those who believe differently than we do are just as loved and just as good as we are just like oak trees, pine trees and maple trees are just as wonderful as the aspen trees that paint my horizon.
The thing is, I do believe that Jesus is my Savior, but to me, that is MY path – the path God created for me at this time in this life. That doesn’t mean that it is the only path; the right path for all of His creation.
My God is a big God that can – and has – created a huge universe and an earth that is covered with more varieties of living things than we could ever hope to glimpse in our short time here. I think it’s silly to think that God’s creativity ended when it came to faith and how to find Him.
We are not aspen trees. God has created us to be unique but has also interconnected us in ways known and unknown. As humans, it is our gift to be able to reach across our “colonies” and share our uniqueness; to plant next to one another and grow beside one another creating communities that are unique, beautiful, and supportive of one another.