Father Greg Boyle tells a story about walking through a housing project on his way to work and, most days, seeing a man watching the passersby from a window. One day, as Father G rounds the corner, he hears “I LOVE YOU, FATHER G!” Running back to say thank you to his admirer, the man responds, “It’s ok, G. You are in my jurisdiction.’
And sometimes, as we live on earth, sometimes there are problems. And, it’s not always about one specific person. Rather, it’s two groups that are having a hard time.
These two ‘jurisdictions’ grumble, rumble a bit. A lot of people have something to say about this situation. A little lady from Calcutta said it best.
The Little Nun
If you don’t know about Mother Teresa, you should spend some time getting to know her.
Born in what is now Macedonia, she felt called to do all she could for the least and the lost. Moving to Calcutta and spending literally all of her time with the people considered the poorest in the world, she did incalculable good. Throughout the process, she taught all who would listen.
One of her many nuggets of wisdom is this: If we have no peace, it is because we’ve forgotten that we belong to one another.
I love this idea. We are all on one Earth… and I’m pretty certain we all came from it.
But, yet, we build walls all the time to keep those who aren’t like us out. This happens at school – there have always been the tables somehow reserved for particular groups of kids. We build little jurisdictions in which everyone is accepted… until they do something that gets them kicked out. It happens in adult life, too.
But are we all really that different? Sure, we all look different (thank goodness – how could we tell each other apart!) We all have different aptitudes and interests. But we are made out of the same atoms, built by the same water, and contain DNA strands that are barely, BARELY different from one another.
At our base core, we are all made of the same stuff! So, why do we insist my group is better than that one or that one or that one….
Thich Nhat Hanh said something similar to Mother Teresa: we live an illusion of separateness.
Camp helps us destroy that illusion. We wake up in bunks close enough to see everyone in the room. We share a bathroom, break bread at every meal, together, play, laugh and learn together. At the end of the day, we smile at each other as we fall asleep. We are completely together, almost all the time. And from this closeness comes magic.
Heck, even Dr. Seuss gets into the act with this short story about Sylvester McMonkey McBean who sells stars to the Sneetches without thars….
It must be a natural instinct to create these smaller groups with ‘ins’ and ‘outs.’
My wanting to eat the entire pan of Chef Daniel’s Sloppy Joe is a natural instinct, too. However, I know it would have disastrous consequences and therefore, don’t. (But, oh wow, it is SO GOOD!)
In other words, some of these ‘natural instincts’ need to be ignored. More often than not, they should be actively fought. But you can’t fight something you don’t know exists.
(That’s the whole point of these little Friday Night Campfire missives – to remind myself of what I need to remember and hope others may remember it, too….)
Bridges or Walls?
When we build up walls around ‘our group’, we run the risk of moving our little bubble, our little jurisdiction, a long way from the other groups. Sooner than you think, you’ll be so far from the others that bridge building between your group and others is really hard.
Do you really want to be on an island with the few who share your same thoughts on… whatever? I’m guessing probably not.
You know what is easier than building bridges? Tearing down walls. If we all belong to one another, the sooner we raze those walls, the better.
It takes courage, by the way. But, when we remember how good it is at camp, we realize tearing down walls are a whole lot better for everyone around you, including yourself.
So, get ready to go out there (wherever you find yourself reading this) and BEEEE AWESOME! Hey, you are in my jurisdiction. Have a great week.