Rising Leader Series: Week 3 - Connected in Space
Updated: Feb 25
Beneath the city lantern she stood fast,
clothes tattered, hair disheveled, face the same.
I handed her a Kind bar as I passed...
then turned and sputtered softly, “What’s your name?”
With that, her eyes lit up with holy light.
“No one asks. I’m Francis-- like the Pope!”
It hit me how an act of mine so slight,
could impart in both of us new hope.
Perhaps this seems a weird way to explain
how we can stop temps rising by degree,
or how my race and your race might regain
respectful sense of shared humanity.
Perhaps systemic transformation starts
with one silent shifting of the heart?
The wider we open the doors of our hearts to God, the more we see that He is in love not just with us, but with all people and things. I am interwoven with the Great I AM– Who is interwoven with you– Who is interwoven with all. Each one, each thing is a thread in the vast divine tapestry called love. Once we see this, God’s love-song calls us deeper. His song begs a harmonic response from the bottom of our souls.
Consciousness of our connectedness leads us to value the connections. We are naturally drawn to heal and strengthen them. We begin to ask new questions. Is not the monarch butterfly good, worthy of protection? Is not the valley stream that sparkles with cold, clear water good, worthy of protection? Is not the Amazon good, worthy of protection? Is not democracy good, worthy of protection? Is not the Syrian refugee in a tent at the edge of Poland good, worthy of protection? Are you and your family not good, worthy of protection?
Yesterday morning, I took a walk in the woods. It was a new trail. As I ambled up and down the rolling hills, naked trees stood post around me. Something about the brisk winter on my cheeks, the beauty of the trees outlined against the sky, and the whispers of nature encouraged me to slow down. I began to hear distinct sounds of wildlife– rustles and scrambles and squawks. I began to step with care; the path was slippery (snow well-packed by those before me). I fell into a rhythm. And then something shifted. I became more alert. Aware. I awakened to the thought that I was just one presence amongst many, a contribution, one part of a larger whole. I was connected to the life and the beauty that surrounded me.
As I walked, I prayed. Not a vending machine-type prayer (put in the request, press the button and wait for the goods). It was more of an emptying prayer. A make-more-room-for-God prayer. It felt a lot like submission, surrender, allowing in, immersing with. By the time I stepped out of the trees, my soul was feeling in deeper communion with God.
God is immanent– Immanuel– God in us. He is the love-connection that binds all to all. Yes, everything emanates God’s love. And everything is alive. The woods I walked through yesterday– the hills, the pond, the trees, the crows and squirrels– all were alive. A mountain is alive. Its rocks are made of atoms in continuous motion. From the atomic particle, to the leaping deer in the forest, to all humanity, to our planets and stars and everything in between, we are connected, with love interwoven. God in all.
But how do we connect with our Immanuel, in the midst of modern life? We are so preoccupied. Our screens have swallowed us up. Bottle-fed as we are each day by digital stimuli, we act like hamsters in a cage. Our attention falls into an ever-deeper deficit as we chase each shiny, new digital object. How easy it is to sleepwalk through life, to lead lives of quiet desperation. Never easier than now. It takes an act of the will to pull away, to seek out the holy.
And it is so important— especially for you, good leader. You must find the time; go to your quiet space. Only there can you find God. Once you do, you will see that He is with you intimate in your heart. You will begin to realize He was always with you and always will be– above, below, in front of, behind, beside and in you. As the psalmist says: “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.” (Psalms 139:7-8).
Your awakening is of global significance, good leader. Our connected world staggers each day under a thousand cuts. Gifted leaders are needed if we are to weave back together the web of life rent asunder by humanity’s greed and careless neglect. Yes, individual acts of goodness will help– but true transformation requires mobilization. Which takes capable, ethical leaders. This is why you are so important, good leader. You hold humanity’s future in your hands.
To be human is to go through desert experiences and periods of suffering. To be human is to someday die. Bad things happen to good people. But even then, even in the midst of all the world’s hate, violence, sickness, misfortune and pain, God is with us. And in God’s redemptive grace, we can find the way forward– we can grow.
In these Rising Leader Series letters, I seek to offer you a path towards ethical leadership. Help on your soul journey. Like my path through the woods yesterday, your soul journey begins at the beginning, in an encounter with God. You don’t need to look too far. He is in your heart already. Awaken to His presence, good leader. He loves you. He believes in you. He wants to radiate His love through you.
Next week, we will consider God’s transcendence across time. It’s a timely topic.
“The heavens are Yours, the earth also is Yours; the world and all it contains, You have founded them.”-- Psalms 89:10
Previous Weeks' Letters: