Let Them Grow Together

Each day, the war in Ukraine battles on, bringing more heartbreak and violence for all involved. While all eyes are on that conflict, we also remember that of the 197 countries in the world, generally one-quarter of them are in conflict at any given time. Our impulse towards violence with our neighbors seems a never-ending human challenge.

While wars have been fought to achieve the freedoms and peace some of us enjoy this day, the deepest parts of us know that war is not a redemptive act. War is never God’s choice or God’s will. War creates a trap of the dualist mind, pitting “us” against “them” in counterforces destined to destroy. It promotes the illusion – delusion – that we are separate when in fact we are all interdependent. Everything that is belongs. It is all One. 

In his “Litany of Contradictory Things,” Michael Moynahan SJ tricks our dualistic minds to show us a better way. He writes: 

Wheat and weeds:
     let them grow together.
Arabs and Jews in Palestine:
     let them grow together.
Greeks and Turks of the Balkans:
     let them grow together.
Catholics and Protestants of Northern Ireland:
     let them grow together.
Pros and Contras of Central America:
     let them grow together.
Documented and undocumented aliens:
     let them grow together.
Immigrants and Native Americans:
     let them grow together.
Blacks and Whites of South Africa:
     let them grow together.
Sikhs and Hindus of India:
     let them grow together.
Revolutionaries and reactionaries:
     let them grow together.
Russians and Americans:
     let them grow together.
Religious leaders who lay and lighten burdens:
     let them grow together.
Disciples prone to boasts and betrayals:
     let them grow together.
People who wound and heal:
     let them grow together.
Rich and poor, humble and haughty:
     let them grow together.
Those whose thinking is similar and contrary:
     let them grow together.
Those whose feelings are transparent or concealed:
     let them grow together.
Days of sparseness and days of plenty:
     let them grow together.
Winter, spring, summer, fall:
     let them grow together.
All the seasons of one’s life:
     let them grow together.
Joys and sorrow, laughter, tears:
     let them grow together.
Strength and weakness:
     let them grow together.
Doubt and faith:
     let them grow together.
Denial and commitment:
     let them grow together.
Preoccupation and freedom:
     let them grow together.
Virtue and vice:
     let them grow together.
Contemplation and action:
     let them grow together.
Giving and receiving:
     let them grow together.
The helpful and the helpless:
     let them grow together.
Wisdom of the East and West:
     let them grow together.
All contrarieties of the Spirit:
     let them grow together.


By growing together, we are forced back into an intimate relationship. We are reminded that we are connected and that even that which we oppose belongs. More so, that which we oppose outwardly in others is often present inwardly within us. 

While it doesn’t feel this way now, we do see signs that we are collectively awakening to the limits of opposing forces. Like magnets, we see they exist for each other. When one is energized, the other matches force. When one is defused, the other loses power. When they are not in opposition, they can redirect their power in service of connection. 

Of course, we should not allow harm to come to innocent people. We must act in the moment to protect the vulnerable. But our actions must hold a deeper intention of transformation. We must act to protect, and we must transform harm through love. 

As you think about the situations, forces or people in your life with whom you are in “opposition,” what happens when you shift attention away from “them” and consider what of them is also within you? 

Today, let us grow together,

 
Rev. Cameron Trimble
Author of Piloting Church: Helping Your Congregation Take Flight

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