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Rafe Ellis: Healing our collective soul

Other Voices
Rev. Rafe Ellis

In response to the Feb. 11 article ‘We’re just absolutely sick,’ says principal.”

I want to be surprised. I want to be shocked. I want this sort of behavior to be a truly aberrant experience in all our lives. This morning, I am none of these.

This morning I am a white man, the husband of a biracial woman. This morning, I am a lifelong social justice activist filled with mixed thoughts, feelings, and urges to act. This morning I am a minister making a conscious choice to hold myself accountable to access that deep place within me that knows exactly how to respond from love to effect true healing.

Healing requires truth telling. It requires that we actively engage in an undefended examination of our national Soul and of our nation’s history in order to excise the unconscious foundational beliefs that operate as the institutionalized and systemic racism that continues to make us sick.

… let’s be courageous and dare to tell the truth. Racism isn’t just “picked up” from others; it’s embedded in our socialized belief systems.

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in one of his last sermons, spoke about how often he was encouraged to “back off a bit, slow down, don’t push so hard … give it time and things will change.” Time alone will not heal us. Focusing only on what unites us will not heal us anymore than focusing on all the healthy cells alone will heal a wound in our physical bodies.

Imagine going to your physician and being told: “Yes, something in your body is definitely making you very sick. We could examine you further, find the problem, remove it and heal you, but doing so would make you horribly uncomfortable so we’re just going to focus on your healthy cells; time will heal you.” In the meantime, you mentally accept the discomfort you feel, becoming desensitized until you’re no longer even aware that you’re becoming progressively sicker; that you are, in fact, dying.

We, the collective we, are suffering from a largely unexamined, mental cancer, if you will. Our unexamined history, the unconscious generational beliefs that we refuse to look at, are silently eating away at our national body, slowly destroying us and most of us don’t even know it; we don’t want to know it. To know makes us horribly uncomfortable. So, we sooth ourselves with flowery, well intentioned phrases to help us “feel better” all the while ignoring the deeply rooted cause of our dis-ease.

Stay with me here, let’s be courageous and dare to tell the truth. Racism isn’t just “picked up” from others; it’s embedded in our socialized belief systems. Living in “this day and age” has no magical power to move us “past this”. There is no one to blame; not one of us living now created our national history. Every one of us has been silently indoctrinated and socialized by our national history. We do, however, have the absolute power to heal ourselves and this beautiful country and world we live in.

We live in a physical reality of cause and effect. Our thoughts, conscious and unconscious, create our feelings; our feelings create our urges; our urges drive our actions. Knowing this empowers us to heal… change our thinking — change our lives. Spiritually speaking, Creator, God, Great Spirit, The Divine, or by whatever name you know and experience this magnificence that created each of us, did so in “its” image. Diversity is Creation’s Divine Idea of Itself in form. To get there we must be courageous enough to flip our human paradigm and stop re-creating God in our image. To move beyond tolerance and acceptance of one another to true celebration of one another. To marvel at the manifestation of the Infinite in multiplicity. To live in a state of awe that every human being is an intentional, unique, unrepeatable, expression of God’s heart in physical form.

We can do this if we will simply be willing. If we will stop separating ourselves in righteous indignation. If we will dare to be greater than we believe we can be. If we will choose to love one another more than we criticize one another. The circle of life has no sides; in Oneness there is no sameness; in differences there is no separation.

As the poet Rumi reminds us: “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field.” Let’s meet there!

Rev. Rafe A. Ellis is senior minister at Sierra Center for Spiritual Living in Grass Valley.


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