Consider: All earthly life together is one being.
“Everything that is in the heavens, and on the earth and under the earth is penetrated with connectedness, penetrated with relatedness” -Hildegard of Bingen, 12th century Christian mystic
In her forest home, Hildegard watched rain fall into tree roots, sap rise through trunks, lush fruits and leaves burst forth, insects, birds and humans eat their fill and pollinate, all life dependent on each other, affecting each other, connected.
My need for my neighbor, vegetable plants, pollinating bees as well as the way in which I impact my neighbor, plants and bees is a web of connection, a “luminous web” according to Barbara Brown Taylor , a “divine tapestry of love” according to Cynthia Bourgeault – all beings woven together in God, by God, through God while dependent on one other for food, care, oxygen.
We forget our dependence, particularly as healthy, young adults who like me once proclaimed “independence” as a badge of honor – an illusion that a small child, an elderly adult, an injured or sick person cannot feign. We are all dependent and interdependent and our web of connection is beautiful. Look for the beauty in the way a stranger holds the hand of someone awaiting an ambulance, the way a stray dog is taken in and given a warm bed.
Our connection is necessary, beautiful and also dangerous. Today a virus is swiftly traveling across our connections, continent after continent. I enter the grocery store wondering if I carry a bug that will kill others or if someone will pass it to me. That possibility is not new. Maybe 5 years ago the cold I brought to the store was catastrophic for the woman next to me or I narrowly escaped a deadly flu.
But that possibility is now turning into a likelihood. A pandemic means more humans in our web are contagious, more are suffering and many are grieving. For some, the cause of grief is clear: you’re unable to visit your spouse in the assisted care facility or hold your friend’s hand in the hospital or keep your job or pay your rent or attend prom and graduation. For others, the cause seems less clear but is felt as the collective grief of the world’s losses.
We are each part of One. As seekers of God living through a pandemic, let’s acknowledge the beauty and the pain of our connected reality as well as our personal and collective grief. And moving forward, let’s try our very best to honor our web of connection in all that we do – in the way that we treat others, care for the Earth, shop, vote and pray. Perhaps the web of connection itself is God, holding us in divine love.