Written by Sarah Grove
“It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.”
― Audre Lorde, Our Dead Behind Us: Poems
“All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
― Gerard Manley Hopkins, Pied Beauty
What would it be like to live in a world where our differences are experienced not as that which divides us from one another, but rather as an invitation to recognize and name with confidence the beautiful ways in which we really are nothing alike? You are swift. While you, over there, you are gloriously slow. And you are sweet. And I am divinely sour. And they are adazzle. While they are perfectly dim.
So often in our current world, we are drawn to the temptation of thinking about difference as undesirable, divisive, or even dangerous. Our differences and especially the unknown around those differences quickly become places where fear and hatred grow. Indeed, we tend to fear what we do not know. And fear all too often for many of us quickly morphs into anger and even hate. We have a tendency to yearn for the comfort of the known and familiar. Difference, then, has the potential to become, for most of us, the scary, uncharted territory of “the other.”
Or, on the other hand, we might be encouraged to disregard the ways in which we are different from one another. We are told that it is better, preferable, or polite to erase difference, especially with respect to race, gender, and sexual orientation, and to see one another simply under the broad umbrella category of “human beings.” Of course, it is crucial to see our human siblings as just that – human – especially in a world that so often dehumanizes those in society whom Jesus once referred to as “the least of these.” That said, we miss a critical and delightful part of what it means to be made in the image of the Creator when we practice the erasure of difference. When we ignore the ways in which we differ, we participate in the denial of the divine in one another, and we are robbed of the opportunity to experience the diversity of divinity.
What would it be like to live in a world where we accept the reality that we will never fully know or understand the lived experiences of any other person? Could we possibly withstand the wonder and awe of such unique createdness, both within ourselves and that which is found in each of our beloved siblings? Would we eagerly open our ears to hear the gift of one another’s sacred life stories? Could we fathom the notion that a portion of the mystery of the divine was being revealed to us through the truth spoken by our siblings?
I sense that the kingdom of heaven might be revealed to us every time we engage with one another from a place of curiosity and celebration about our differences. When we sit together, present with the reality of our unique createdness, and neither judging nor avoiding our differences, I sense that we begin to participate in what has been called divine love. I sense that we might also intuitively prioritize the stories of those who find themselves among “the least of these.”
Let us rejoice in the power of our unique stories to reveal that which is true for each of us as a part of Creation. May we all strive to hear with open ears the Good News revealed by each of our siblings.
Sarah Grove is a part-time staff Pastoral Counselor and sees clients at Insight Counseling Centers’ offices in Nashville and Franklin. Sarah enjoys working creatively and collaboratively with clients to explore ways in which lasting change can occur for individuals, couples, and families. She is committed to creating a safe, sacred, and non-judgmental environment where clients can honestly and bravely craft their personal goals and participate in their own beautiful healing and transformation. Contact Sarah to schedule an appointment.