Saturday, November 16, 2013

No boundaries in Oneness - Remarks and Blessing for Border Quilt Panels created for the "Revitalize not Militarize" campaign of the Southern Border Communities Coalition - November 16, 2013

    In the Torah reading for this Sabbath, I read this morning at Temple Beth-El about the reunion of Jacob and Esau.  After many years, they reconciled with each other, leaving behind the distance and conflict that had kept them apart.  Jacob urged Esau to accept the gifts he was giving him in gratitude for their meeting, saying “Seeing your face is like seeing the face of God.”
   Within Judaism, and perhaps other faiths as well, “God” can mean the Oneness the lies at the foundation of the entire universe and within every living creature.   In this Oneness, there are no borders, no boundaries – only unity.
   It is our challenge to put ourselves in a place where we can gain a “God’s eye” view of the world.  The closest we can come to see the earth from that perspective in a physical way might be by viewing photos of the earth from space.    There are natural borders like rivers and oceans, but those borders welcome any living being that can successfully cross them.  
     Some borders made by human beings are not so forgiving or welcoming.   But we can choose for our borders to be embracing and warm, where we see anyone who lives near that boundary and crosses it in the most positive light.
This quilt does just that:  it expresses the feelings of those who live near a border who want their lives to be normal, enriching and fulfilling. They know that the hospitality shown by a nation can encourage citizens and neighbors to have hopes and dreams which they can have the opportunity to make real.   
    This quilt, with separate panels brought together, is a unified tapestry.  The whole is the sum of its parts.  It is one, like the earth from thousands of miles away.  No boundaries, no borders, just a sense of connection and a hope that those who guard our borders and those who cross or live near our borders will always see the face of God in one another.
    I want to conclude with Bible scholar Stephen Mitchell’s rendering of Psalm 24.  This passage challenges us to be compassionate, and loving and supportive of each other:
“Who is fit to hold power
and worthy to act in God’s place?
Those with a passion for the truth,
who are horrified by injustice,
who act with mercy to the poor
and take up the cause of the helpless,
who have let go of selfish concerns
and see the whole earth as sacred,
refusing to exploit her creatures
or to foul her waters and lands.
Their strength is in their compassion;
God's light shines through their hearts
Their children's children will bless them,
and the work of their hands will endure.”

May the work of the hands that created these panels for the Border Quilt soften the hearts of our nation so that we can be warm and welcoming once again. 


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