May: Other Religious Traditions
“We are all rooted together in the ground of consciousness that is God’s gift to all of us.. and our joining is absolute. When the Islamic mullah prays with true and quiet heart, I believe that the souls of the Iowa farmer and the Welsh miner are touched. When the gong sounds in the Japanese monastery and the monks enter the timeless silence of Zazen, their quiet nourishes the Brazilian native and the Manhattan executive. When Jews and Christians pray with true willingness, the Hindu scientist and the Russian policeman are enriched. Thus, when you struggle with your own mind…, you do this as much for others as for yourself, and you help the struggles of others in ways beyond all understanding.”
Gerald May, Will and Spirit. p. 319-320. HarperOne 1982.
Many authors remind us of our connection to Nature and to the world around us. Others remind us of our connection to the poor, the weak, the sick, the lonely. Gerald May reminds us of our connection to other religions, how the Spirit moves in so many different paths that we do not understand, too deep for words.
There is more here, though than just recognizing God at work in so many different ways. May is also telling us that we are intimately connected by this Spirit. What we do to further the Spirit, to connect to God, in our own day, in our own way, makes a difference across the globe in some distant rain forest.
Again, this relationship is a deep mystery beyond our knowing. Sometimes when I read this passage from May, I can sit and almost feel the Iowa farmer working his black dirt since we spent four years in Iowa City in training. Then I try to cross the Atlantic to England. I can connect to the shepherd and his dogs and sheep striding along green pastures since we have made several trips to England and Scotland.
Because of our political scene, I am having more difficulty connecting to the people in Russia. I have never been there, but always wanted to go to St. Petersburg to see Rembrandt’s Return of the Prodigal Son in the Hermitage Museum. The next time I watch a newscast from Russia, I will look and try to image the people there. I think this could make a difference. I hope they are doing the same for us.