Watching Lines Disappear
Many years ago, my family was on a flight to Disney World in Orlando. I dislike flying and usually listen to music with my eyes closed to distract myself from the idea that I am only 39,000 feet away from a tragic ending. On this particular flight, however, my three children served as ample distraction, keeping up a constant stream of bubble- gum-scented questions and demanding that I look out the window to see the rapidly receding ground.
After we had attained cruising altitude, my seven-year- old daughter, sitting directly behind me, leaned forward and popped a bubble in my ear.
“Where are the lines?” she demanded.
“What lines?” I asked.
“The ones between the states!” she exclaimed. “I thought there would be lines, like when you look at a map. But look, there’s no lines at all.”
I looked through the small, cold pane of glass and realized she was right. The ground below was dappled in sunlight and shadow, the colors blurring together like a Monet watercolor. There was nary a line in sight.
In today’s world, we are very slowly moving away from a view of life where everything has sharply defined boundaries. The lines between races, cultures and religions are much less defined than they were in centuries past.
In today’s world, men are much more likely to embrace what were once traditional female roles, such as nurturing children, and women are just as likely as men to have demanding careers. In scientific fields like medicine, definitive boundaries are shifting, as states of mental and physical health, and even the stages of life itself, are now acknowledged as existing on a spectrum.
This blurring of lines causes great fear for people who have always operated within them. When the boundaries in our lives fade, our view of our fellow human beings can expand.Blurring boundaries can increase our compassion and open our eyes to the unity that exits both within and beyond all of our differences.
In Ephesians 2: 11-22, St. Paul gives us a beautiful vision of Christ as the unifier – the one who, “with his own body, broke down the wall that separated them and kept them enemies,” the one who “abolished the Jewish Law, with its commandments and rules, in order to create out of the two races one new people in union with himself, in this way making peace.”
Someday far into the future, I think humanity will look back on the suffering caused by the lines drawn between races and religions, between countries and cultures, and wonder why it took so long for us to see that we are all sacred beings created by a loving God who rejoices in our differences but loves us all the same. Keeping people firmly separated according to their ethnicity or belief systems might seem to make life easier, but it also causes us to separate ourselves from our shared emotions and our shared humanity. This separation can result in ugly consequences.
It is almost impossible these days to open a newspaper and not be reminded that humanity is only one nuclear button away from a sudden tragic ending. In times of fear, it is natural for us to try to reinforce our barriers, but St. Paul reminds us that our salvation does not lie in reinforcing the walls between us, but in bringing them down.
In this new year, as we continue to move farther into the idea of all of life being interconnected, may we remember these words from St. Paul: “In union with Him, you too are being built, together with all the others, into a place where God lives through his Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:22)
May the Spirit of God, which transcends all boundaries, move us beyond our fears and above our prejudices, so that we might all attain, even for just a moment, a glorious God’s eye view.