We Are: The Spirit of God–Some Observations

We are our grandmothers’ prayers.
We are our grandfathers’ dreamings.
We are the breath of our ancestors.
We are the spirit of God.
Ysaye Barnwell

For people who believe in God in traditional terms, that last line of the chorus of the song We Are is probably difficult to swallow.  God is separate from human beings, in traditional thinking.  God is the Creator and we are the created.  Most Unitarian Universalists don’t spend much time worried about this issue.

Most Unitarian Universalists are not listening to Focus on the Family, either.  But, being a fan of Krista Tippet’s work, I listened to a new series of broadcasts that she is doing now called The Civil Conversations Project. In one of those episodes, she interviews Jim Daly, the current president of Focus on the Family and Gabe Lyons, the founder of Q: Ideas for Common Good.  They are both evangelical Christians willing to step back and look at how their faith is (or is not) supporting the common good in the world.  Jim Daly tells of a private meeting he had with an LGBTQ leader where they both shared very personal stories leaving both of them in tears, as he said, for the sheer humanity of it all.  On return to his office at Focus on the Family, a colleague confronted him for meeting with “that man” expressing how that would bring “shame on the ministry.”  To that, Daly observed:

If you don’t have a heart for people, then you don’t have the heart of God.

I have no idea if Jim Daly would agree with this, but I make this observation:

If you are moved by the humanity of another human being,
you are the Spirit of God at work in the world.

Karen Armstrong, religious historian and author of The Charter of Compassion, calls being moved by the humanity of another compassion.  She thinks that it is inherent in the human being (as is the fear of those who are different) to be compassionate.  Hence her observation that practicing a life of compassion requires real intelligence and hard work, and is not at all just “warm and gooey.”

Like it or not, we are each the Spirit of God in the world.  As I hear teenagers often say in the hallways:  what you gone do about it?

Bob Patrick

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