New Language for a New Story

February 15th, 2021 by JDVaughn Leave a reply »

The Spirit whispers,
the ancestors agree.
You are star born
and God loved;
The universe awaits
your gifts. —Barbara Holmes, Race and the Cosmos
The addition of Barbara Holmes to the CAC’s Living School has been a gift, with her wonderful teachings on the origins of the universe and what they have to teach us about our future. In this passage from a lecture given at the Living School in 2019, Barbara shares the internal shift that led her to write her book Race and the Cosmos:
Writing Race and the Cosmos was actually my own transformation and awakening. . . .
As I considered it, the truth of the matter was that we were living within an old story; and a new story needed to be told, but we didn’t have the language for it.
The old story was of victimization, marginalization, oppression, oppressors; and the new story would see all of us evolving, self-expanding, and finding a new place in this wonderful cosmology that is a reality we have not paid attention to. So, in order to get to that point—and here is where my transformation begins—I had to reconsider what I thought about people, because I had hardened my view of others and who they were and what they meant. I had spent my time raising two little African American boys who had to be taught how to survive in society. In doing that, I taught them to view the world in only one way; and I myself was hardened into a position that either you were with me or you were against me or us.
All of that had to change. I had to begin to think of us as spiritual beings having a human experience, and not bodily, embodied folks without spirit or soul. . . . That’s a very limited view of humankind, and I wanted to expand the story. . . .
Richard here: Barbara brilliantly turned to the languages of science, cosmology, and physics to expand our view of humanity.
The physics and cosmology revolution that is 100 years old has not been translated into the ordinary world of any of us, and specifically not in communities of color. The world that scientists describe now is so different than the world that I grew up in or even imagined. According to physicists, this is what the world is like: it is a universe permeated with movement and energy that vibrates and pulses with access to many dimensions. . . . We are all interconnected, not just spiritually or imaginally, but actually . . . and the explicate [or manifested] order that’s all around us makes us think that we’re separate. Finally, I learned that ideas of dominance are predicated on a Newtonian clockwork universe. So, like dominoes, you push one and they all fall down, and everything is in order. But quantum physics tells us that the world is completely different. Particles burst into existence in unpredictable ways, observations affect the observed, and dreams of order and rationality are not the building blocks of the universe.

All Creation Has Soul

Nature itself was the first Bible. Before there was the written Bible, there was the Bible in things that are made. This creation starts with being very good (Genesis 1:31). We come to God through things as they are; spirituality is about sinking back into the Source of everything. We’re already there, but we have too little practice seeing ourselves there. God, in Christ, is in all, and through all, and with all (see 1 Corinthians 15:28; Colossians 3:11). We call this the Universal Christ or another name for every thing—in its fullness.
A spirituality of the Universal Christ is at the same time a creation spirituality. It allows you to start seeing your own soul imaged and given back to you in the soul of everything else. All of creation has soul! The Latin word for soul is anima, which became animal in English. This earth is participating in the mystery of redemption, liberation, and salvation. The whole creation is groaning in one great act of giving birth (see Romans 8:22). The whole thing is being reborn, re-covenanted, and realigned. Instead of seeing natural things as merely objects to be used, we must allow nature to enchant us.
This week we will be featuring authors of color, people who, like Jesus, see God in everything. Howard Thurman (1900–1981), the Black mystic, theologian, and spiritual guide for Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement, shares his early experiences of God:
The true purpose of all spiritual disciplines is to clear away whatever may block our awareness of that which is God in us. . . .
It will be in order to suggest certain simple aids to this end. One of these is the practice of silence, or quiet. As a child I was accustomed to spend many hours alone in my rowboat, fishing along the river, when there was no sound save the lapping of the waves against the boat. There were times when it seemed as if the earth and the river and the sky and I were one beat of the same pulse. It was a time of watching and waiting for what I did not know—yet I always knew. There would come a moment when beyond the single pulse beat there was a sense of Presence which seemed always to speak to me. My response to the sense of Presence always had the quality of personal communion. There was no voice. There was no image. There was no vision. There was God. [1]


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