Belonging: Every Heart a Temple

I belong to no religion.
My religion is Love.
Every heart is my temple.

— Rumi

As we come to our last day of reflecting on the theme of belonging, these words of Rumi elicit the core of what our considerations together have shown me.  The word itself establishes, whether we want it to or not, a binary way of thinking.  To say that we belong to something or some group implies that there was a time when we didn’t and that there are others who don’t.  It implies that there are some conditions for entrance and perhaps some reason or goal of entering into this belonging.

That does describe most of our experiences.  Binary thinking is hard to escape.  We find it everywhere, and many of our explorations this month have considered a variety of them. We have to assume that such either-or thinking was a problem for the people of Rumi’s time as well.  I like to think that with these few words, he begins to turn the binary thinking that infects even a beautiful consideration like belonging on its ear.

I don’t have a religion.  I do have a religion, but it’s called love, he says.  He knows that love cannot be contained.  That try as we may to put rules around love, love always flows beyond and around most of those rules. The real deal doesn’t place conditions of membership.

We can follow Rumi’s lead.  Many of us do belong to a religion.  I am a Unitarian Universalist, for example, and I can also say that love is my religion.  The one doesn’t exclude the other.  In fact, I like to think of love as the religion of which Unitarian Universalism can be a part.  And Methodism.  And Catholicism.  And Paganism.  And Judaism.  And Hinduism.  And Islam.  And Native and Aboriginal Religions.  And . . .

. . . every heart is my temple.  Every encounter with another human being, even those that begin badly for us, can become a moment in which we choose to enter this temple.  We can choose to silently (if no other way) to acknowledge the heart, the life, the beauty and complexity of this other life, and be grateful for it.

Bob Patrick


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