Right away I noticed him. His head wrapped in a turban, he fit in with all of us misfits, all of us travelers on this journey of life, religion, politics, and survivors of the expectations that arise from ourselves and others. Under the turban was a young man seeking for answers, running and playing the games with the rest of the youth, and just a fellow human being alive at this same time in history. The light in his eye, the honesty of his body language, spoke volumes.
I was one of the facilitators at a Christian youth retreat for the weekend, and he had come as a participant with his school. Even though he went to a Christian school, his religion was Sikh. Sikhism is a beautiful religion. ”Sikhs believe in the equality of humankind, the concept of universal brotherhood of man and One Supreme transcendent and immanent God.” And his persona lived that. It was so cool seeing him interact with the youth of a Christian religion. His presence was a reminder that we are all the same, regardless of religion, race, political standing, or economic place in this country and world. In fact, his presence and exuberance of life sparked the unspoken question of why do we even have such borders around different religions – and even tighter borders around different denominations within Christendom…and dare I say, even tighter borders within the same denomination?
On our last day of the retreat, I stood at the back of the room helping with supervision of the teens as they had their last meeting together. There was a band leading out in music from the front, and all the teens were singing loudly, revived and rejuvenated from the weekend. The sound was beautiful, really. The song that they sang was “How He Loves Us”. The lyrics of the chorus say over and over “He loves us, oh how He loves us, how He loves us so…” And then I saw him. Singing his heart out. With everyone else. And in that moment a million things happened in my brain all at once. It was crazy, really.
It was as if I saw a future picture of a time when we will all be in a place of peace – you could call it heaven, I guess. And we were all singing that song, “How He loves us so”. And we all – human beings from all walks of life, religion, sexual-orientation, political standing, dress, culture, mistake-ridden-life, – were united as one under this LOVE. The thing that united us was not our belief, or any of the above categories. The thing that united us was this crazy LOVE that takes us beyond ourselves, beyond our agendas, beyond our “I’m right” mentality. There were no walls, no borders. I could see us all – Buddhists, Christians, Taoists, Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, Hindus, Agnostics, – I could see us all gathered there. We were still in our different regalia that demonstrates our belief – but we weren’t looking at it or were distracted by it, nor were we trying to prove something by it. We were all facing God, the One who is LOVE, all amazed that we are indeed Beloved…and it is THAT fact – we are ALL Beloved – that united us.
Isn’t this the beautiful truth – We are beloved. He loves us. All of us. Regardless of our crazy arguments. Regardless of our experiences. Regardless of our brokenness. He loves us. He sees beyond our man-made disguises. He sees us. The beauty of who we are – sacred, created, truly a universal brotherhood of humanity, all drawn and existing because of the One Universal LOVE – the Being Who created us all.
It all came to me in a chorus of a song. But it felt like I had been lifted into that moment. It was beautiful, and I truly felt in awe of God. And then I asked myself – if we claim to follow this Being who is described as LOVE (see 1 John 4:16), then why do we not see our fellow humankind the way this God, this LOVE, sees us? Indeed. Because the fact is, He loves us. All of us. Oh how He loves us. It’s time we did the same.
“With this Love, Bitterness becomes Honey
With this Love, Copper becomes Gold
With this Love, Dregs become Wine
With this Love, Pain becomes a Healing Herb
With this Love, Death becomes Life
With this Love, The King becomes a Slave.”