I had the opportunity to visit a Senate gallery meeting while on this immersion.  During the opening prayer of the meeting, the chaplain, Barry Black, said something along the lines of “Where we are divided, may we be one.”  We are people who love the ability to categorize each other.  However, when we categorize, we begin  to “other” people in a way that places them in opposition to one another: male vs. female, gay vs. straight, Democrat vs. Republican, liberal vs. conservative.  Black comes from a traditional background, so I had my own prejudices related to the ways that I categorized him before his prayer began.  However, I was reminded of my own tradition.  John Wesley, in his famous sermon, “Catholic Spirit,” said, “ Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike?  May we not be of one heart, though we are not of one opinion?  Without all doubt, we may.”

With alumni and friends at the Dubliner

Part of this immersion course has been an opportunity to dialogue with a variety of types of people doing social change work in a variety of fields.  On Friday, we met Lisbeth Meléndez Rivera, an employee of the Human Rights Campaign doing work in the intersection of LGBT justice and faith.  Given that this is the field that I am most passionate about, it was one of the conversations that I most anticipated.  I had my expectations regarding the types of things she might say.  However, I was way off.  She stressed the importance of finding similarities when discussing differing opinions.  She claimed that so many times we start conversations in the places we differ, but it’s the commonalities that allow us to find the humanity in each other.  Once one is able to find the human connection, it is much more difficult to do and say things that will intentionally cause harm.  It is vital to remember that differing opinions are okay as long as no harm is done.
The Bible verse Wesley chose for his sermon was 2 Kings 10:15, “‘Is your heart true to my heart as mine is to yours?’  And Jehonadab answered, ‘It is.’  Jehu said, ‘If it is, give me your hand.’  So he gave him his hand.”  As we move forward in our own social change work and continue to shine light into the dark spaces of the world, may we ever be mindful of our human connection and the ways that keeps us connected to the Divine.  May we always seek to find spaces where our commonalities cause us to join hands.