Monday, August 15, 2016

A Holy Communion

"Everything Belongs"

During a church service yesterday, as I observed the congregation receiving the bread and wine of “Holy Communion,” the thought occurred to me that this ritual was an almost perfect icon of what all life is essentially all about.  In a very real sense everything and everyone that exists “is” a web of Holy Communion.

I am reminded of a letter published by a veteran Jesuit priest who, after 45 years in the ministry, decided to resign as a priest in protest over the structure of the institutional church. His comments about the inherent and intolerable problems of “hierarchy” in the institution really resonated with me, not only as a commentary about the established church but as an insight into the “toxic” way most people approach life in general. The priest observed:

We humans cannot be fully ourselves
without being in communion with all that exists.
We need conversion from the prevailing consciousness
that views reality in terms of separateness, dualism and hierarchy,
to a new awareness of ourselves as interdependent partners
sharing in one Earth-Human community,

In plainer words, we need to end the worldview that structures reality
into higher and lower, superior and inferior, dominant and subordinate,
which puts God over humanity, humans over the rest of the world,
men over women, the ordained over laity, human beings over a world of nature

Living here in the desert, I am more in tune with the world of nature nowadays than I have ever been before in my life. I have come to understand that the essence of the natural order is ecology and not hierarchy. In fact, the desert is always teaching me that life is “communion.”

The desert is an exceptionally fragile eco-system and so there is nothing here that is hierarchical, no one part is designed to be subservient, all the parts need to be in concert and communion with one another for life to be sustained and to survive.

Everything in the desert “is” a complex web flowing together in a beautifully intricate dance of life – the sky and the sun, the stars at night, the sand and the water, palm trees and cacti, flying insects, birds of the air, the snakes that crawl under the rocks, and the people who walk along the trails - everything has a purpose, nothing is ever relegated to a position of inferiority or superiority.

While the desert teaches me that all of life is a dynamic "communion,"  I also believe that, in our hubris, we humans have fooled ourselves into believing that our species is somehow superior to everything else that exists in the natural world.  Many people honestly believe that the world of nature somehow exists as a resource to serve our human needs, and so we pollute the air or destroy the oceans to satisfy our economic goals and political ends.  

Even in our relationships with one another, we have crafted a world that looks like one big “organizational chart,” with some people at the top of the hierarchy and others who are thrown into a trash heap at the very bottom of the pile. 

No matter where you go you will always find someone who is “in charge” of somebody else, even in families and in personal relationships, somebody always seems to be “in charge” of somebody else. This is especially true in the world of business, politics and public life, in the “mom and pop” 10-person organization, in the vast medical or educational establishments, in the way in which organized religion is structured – everything is ordered in terms of hierarchy and everyone is always looking for ways to climb up the ladder of success.

Is it any wonder so many people feel like their lives have somehow wound up in a dead –end?  This is what happens when you go against the design and flow of nature - this is what happens when you try to resist or tear apart the natural web of holy communion.

We human beings cannot be fully ourselves
without being in communion with all that exists.


  1. Thank you for connecting terminology and a language that many of us learned as children to a world of kindness and interconnectedness. Words heard in our past as part of an -ology or -ism with a Creator focus that have much more heartfull meanings and messages that reinforce what our Indigenous Elder have called for - a change in consciousness, a move from head to heart guided by the Laws of Nature.

    1. You are so very welcome..thanks for your insightful comment