Shared DNA

“If you spot it, you got it.” Anyone who has done substantial work on personal growth is familiar with this adage. The people I find the most irritating and frustrating are the ones who somehow mirror something inside myself that I have not come to terms with. People who brag and exaggerate their accomplishments or are deceptive in their dealings with others, for instance, really get to me. They get to me because I see in them something about myself that I do not like. I tend to think that my value is involved with what I have achieved and what others think of me. So when I’m feeling a little shaky about my value I will deceive myself, and others, by making more of my accomplishments than is accurate. When I see others doing that, I don’t like it because I don’t like my own tendency to deceive. As long as I am aware of my own issues, my irritation with others actually helps me grow because I can take that irritation inward and become more honest with myself. When I am not aware of my own issues, I externalize my irritation and focus on the faults of others. When I do see that I am similar to the people I find difficult, I develop more compassion for them and I am more honest with myself. That results in tremendous personal growth.

It is also true that the more positive things I observe in others mirror the goodness that is inside me. When I notice kindness and thoughtfulness in someone, I like it because there is some of that in me. I cannot really see anything in the world that I do not have inside myself. The reason the sparkle in the brown eyes of a four year old little girl brings me joy is because there is that little sparkle in my heart that wants to be acknowledged. The wonders of nature – sunsets, sunrises, remarkable insects, soaring hawks, labradors – draw my attention because I share DNA with them. I see in them what is good and remarkable in myself. Everything that I see, I see because I have it myself. I can only see out there what is in here, in my own makeup. If I spot it, I got it, good or bad. The DNA of the whole universe is inside me.

Our faith tradition celebrates the goodness of creation which comes from the very being of God. Out of nothing, God made all that is. Without God nothing could be. Everything comes from God, has its origins in God, yearns to yoke with God more fully because God is home. For some of us the Big Bang Theory is an exciting way to look at God’s continuing creative process. The world exploded into being from a common source. Scientists suggest that the world is a result of a series of perhaps millions of Big Bangs as they find increasing evidence that the universe expands until it then compresses and then expands again. Theologians have basically said the same thing a lot longer than scientists have. The world comes from a common source and creation is a continuing process, not because of chance but because of an abiding grace.

So we all share DNA. If we come from the same place, we’re all more similar than we are different. There’s a unity of being in all that is. Pretty big stuff right there, with powerful implications. I may want to identify certain things or people as good, others as bad. But we’re all basically the same, all created by goodness and all looking for a way to yoke with that goodness and come home.

Maybe the even bigger implication is that we share DNA, not only with each other, but with God. Anything that I am able to notice about God, or even imagine about God, is because I have something of that inside myself. When Jesus talked about the kingdom of God being within us, he spoke of this truth. When we have spiritual awakenings it is God’s grace finding resonance with something inside us that is made of grace. The incarnation of Jesus speaks of God’s intervening in our history. It also speaks of the eternal way in which God abides in all of creation and how we abide in God.

Christian practices – prayer, contemplation, social justice, empathy, compassion – all draw us more deeply into our own selves and then propel us into the world, back and forth. We find God within, we share God with the world, and we find God is there ahead of us. God is much more wrapped up in our world than God is outside of our world.

So everything we see, we share that same substance. That shocking awareness transforms everything we do. If what I see in you reflects what is inside me, if what I see in the world reflects what is in the being of God, then the way I interact with you and the world becomes an exercise in holiness, not just a series of problems.

Yours faithfully,

Robert C. Wisnewski, Jr.

 

Annual Meeting and Vestry Elections – Sunday, January 21, 11:15 am

On Sunday, the 21st, seven people will be elected to serve a three year term on the Vestry. The nominees are: Virginia Banister, Richard Bradford, Kat Dailey, Anne Hamner, Mike Jenkins, Katie Keller, Jimmy McLemore, Stephanie Norrell, Sim Penton, Margaret Ann Selman, Euel Screws, Todd Westhauser. If you are unable to attend the Annual Meeting, you may vote ahead of time by contacting Fay Worrilow (fay@stjohnsmontgomery.org). The Vestry has elected Jim Marshall III to serve as Senior Warden and Bill Eskridge to serve as Junior Warden for 2018.