| Anne C. Williamson | Originally posted February 15, 2015. Edited March 2019.
I remember my Ethics professor in seminary saying, "The worst thing Mr. Rogers did for you kids is convince you of your specialness." Intentionally provocative, he also believed it. In an academic field that plays so often in absolutes and the consequences of conduct, catering to the individual can be a dangerous game.
I understand this perspective. Too often in our society, the world, we over emphasize the unique, special individual. This leads to myopic points of view. I fail to see - or choose to ignore - how my choices impact others and the Earth, and consequently, they suffer. It also leads to some nauseatingly terrible commercials: two words, perfumes and cars.
We can also under emphasize our specialness, though. I’ve been listening to Layla Saad’s “Good Ancestor Podcast” recently and many of her womanist guests speak to how black women are not a monolith and need to stop being represented as such. In fact, much of what white supremacy and patriarchy does is try and convince people of color and women that they, that we, are created to be this one way, instead of the boundless and dynamic “multiverse” within us. Problematic, indeed.
So, can there exist a happy middle ground? Can we be both special and One?
For the past five weeks, this blog and the WAYfinding groups have been exploring prayer and Sabbath. Both practices exist at the intersection of the individual and g/God. They live where specialness and personality meet our interconnectedness and it's blurring of our distinctions, the One. Consequently, the act of prayer or Sabbath serves as a microcosm for, and a practice in, balancing these things.
On the one hand, our personality demands permission to come to g/God by any means. To understand prayer and Sabbath as any posture, any way, any act where I'm, where you're, intentionally connecting to the deepest part of yourself, to God. Your specialness draws you to discover the practices that work for you, make sense to you, resonate in you. I'm a proponent of this!
I also think prayer and Sabbath are not all about you, about me. This is the other hand, our interconnectedness, the All, the One, g/God. When these practices are balanced, we allow g/God to "speak" as much as we do. We allow our interconnectedness, the One, to come to us by any means too. We allow It to expand us, rattle us, surprise us, move us.
What do you think?