"...I am fully alive and flying with faith soaring above the clouds creating what will be from what is not yet and meeting God in me and all around me. I dance with the doubt so I can fly with the faith."
From "Dancing Into Doubt, Flying Into Faith" Diana Wilcox ⓒ 2010

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Do We Exist?

A student interjected the following a few weeks ago during a group discussion: "If a person is alone on an island, with no one else around, do they exist?  Can we exist outside of relationship with another?"  It is moments like this that make me thankful to be a chaplain, because I am in awe of the insight that I have experienced coming from these students.

He asks a great question.  What would be your answer to it?

For me, relationship is essential to life, but relationship with what or whom, and what kind of relationship?  It brings to mind this passage from the Gospel of Matthew:

‘Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?’ He said to him, ‘ “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.’ (Matt. 22:36-40, NRSV)

Jesus is telling us that the most important thing we should do, the foundation for everything else, is love God, love ourselves and love our neighbors.  We are to be in relationship with one another and with God.  Jesus himself is the very presence of God trying to be in direct relationship with us - no matter the cost, it was that important.

And, it is not just relationship,  but right relationship that is essential.  

We are to treat ourselves and each other as we would God.  Imagine the possibilities if we did!  Domestic violence, hate crimes, war - none of it would exist if we looked at one another and saw the face of God in the eyes that looked back at us.  And there would be no suicides, no cutting, no starvation dieting by young girls, if when we looked in the mirror (or our reflection from the sea) we saw the face of God staring back.  

So, back to the question my student posed.  "If a person is alone on an island, with no one else around, do they exist?  Can we exist outside of relationship with another?"  

You see, we are never truly alone on a desert island.  God, and all of God's creation, is always with us, and in us. We are always in relationship with ourselves, and with God, even if we have no neighbor with whom to share that love.  

If we can open our hearts to this, if we can truly see God in all of creation, if we not only read and hear the words of Jesus, but live them out, imagine what the world could be like!  

Just imagine.

And now that you have imagined it, let's go and live it!

Chaplain Diana

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Legacy of Tyler For the World and the Church

It has taken me some time to move to a place where I could write about the events of the past several weeks, and the tragic loss of young lives.  There are no words to describe the spiritual pain of those driven to suicide, nor that of those left behind mourning them.  It seemed any attempt to write about it would never do justice to what has become a growing injustice in our society - and perhaps that is fitting.  But, I know that another reason I could not respond was that I was just too angry and too saddened to find the words.

What has happened to us?

I will leave it to the sociologists and psychologists to scientifically explain why one person would mistreat another person, or an animal, or why that seems to be escalating in the last several decades.  I am much more interested in saying what I feel needs to be said everyday by everyone.


Every person is our brother or sister.  The Tyler Clementi's of this world, and yes, the Dharun Ravi's and Molly Wei's.  Everyone.  We have a responsibility to not only live this message, but to work to ensure that all children feel it in their souls.

We must address both the bullying, and the suicides that follow.  We cannot turn our backs and say that "my child would never do such a thing" because all children are our responsibility as a society.  But even more, the church bears responsibility for its complicity in this system of oppression against gay children.  The message cannot be "love the sinner, hate the sin." Implicit in that is a condemnation of those who were created by God to love those of the same sex.  The church must stop the squabbling over scriptural interpretation and stand up for all the world to hear shouting "all of humanity is a creation of God, and as such, is good and loved by God, and fully welcomed at the table."  Period!

Any person who feels a need to marginalize another is feeling marginalized themselves.  The cycle builds on itself, and we must stop this carousel of inhumanity and say "NO MORE!"  Whenever a part of God's creation is harmed, we are all diminished.

And to all those who might believe that suicide or murder is an answer to the bullying - STOP!  You are loved beyond words.  You have a life waiting for you that is filled with possibilities, and experiences beyond your imagination.  We want to know you as you grow along your journey.  You matter to us, and to God.  You are not alone.  Nothing can ever separate you from the love of God.  If you are thinking about suicide, please contact this number immediately and they will assist you:

1-800-273-TALK (English), 1-888-628-9454 (Spanish)

All of us must do whatever we can to pay attention, to be the ones to stand up against injustice, to stop our busy lives to listen to the silence of one who struggles to speak who they are, and to see in everyone we meet the face of God hungering for our recognition.

Whenever we face a tragedy, we hear the words "Never Again."  This time, let's make them more than just words.

God's Peace,
Chaplain Diana