as part of my meditation each morning i pray my own version of the lord's prayer. the central part of that prayer has to do with our relationships with one another. in my prayer, i think of all those who suffer because they are without life's necessities; they may lack shelter, food, the comfort of loving connections to others, or adequate clothing. i think then of our responsibility to address these needs that so many have. i think of the suffering that is caused by our clinging to ancient hatreds and prejudices and by seeking to impose control over others through the use of force, and i pray that we can forgive one another and be forgiven by them for the wrongs we have done so that the cycle of violence can end.
here for me is the heart of true religion: seeking to alleviate the physical and emotional needs of others by our actions and seeing that we are all the same despite our predispositions to stereotype those who appear to be different from us because of their ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, or religion. the idea that we are reborn in another body after our death is helpful, i think, in that it does away with these barriers that seperate us from one another. when we think that another person may have been our mother, our father, our child, our sibling in another life, we see that we are all related and that superficial differences are unimportant.
by seeing others as connected to us and the universality of the desire for loving connections with one another, we break down the walls of hatred and prejudice that artificially keep us from awareness of the humanity and suffering in others; we understand that all suffer and we understand that, by easing the suffering of another, we lessen our own suffering. may we see ourselves in each person we encounter. may we pray that each one's suffering may be lessened. may our actions result from hearts filled with lovingkindness and compassion, hearts that respect each person shalom.