In 1997, we went with friends to the Makoch Native American Festival. It was an evening of music, dancing, and storytelling. One of the performers, Kevin Locke, is a member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe. Considered to be among the finest traditional musicians and dancers, he weaves wonderful messages of Native American culture and history throughout his performances.
One legend Mr. Locke tells is a creation story that includes "first eagle." After the world's creation, the legend portrays a great flood in which the people find themselves scattered to the four corners of the earth as the floodwaters recede. The people then become separated by barriers of language and culture. Yet the legend also tells of a time when all descendants would again gather together. They would no longer be divided from one another and confined within themselves by surface differences - the color of skin, race, creed. Instead they would see the heart of the eagle within one another, and all would soar free like the eagle. Locke encourages his audiences to help make that time be now.
Of course people are different. And that's as it should be. What shouldn't be is division, suspicion, prejudice, or antagonism because of those differences. We're each unique, with individual, beautiful qualities. After all, what kind of flower garden would you have if every flower were exactly the same? The zinnias, the cosmos, the lilies, the portulaca, the lilac, and the jasmine, all bring something special as they bloom. Each flower, of itself, is a wonder. Together they make the garden completely wonderful.
How can we understand and genuinely appreciate each other's differences instead of distrusting them? The Native American story talks about getting past the surface and seeing the heart of the eagle within. I like to think of this as denying any reality to a limited, fearful, material view of each other and seeing the spirit of God's love and grace within everyone. Prayer - spiritual listening - enables us to realize that God, the one Spirit, is the creator and that we are all His creation - His spiritual creation. That makes each of us very special, but it also unites us. We see that no one is outside of God's family. We're all His children. All of us. Everyone. Everyone.
Some may say this is a naive view of things. That it's too simplistic. A too hopeful idealism. But should such an ideal be so easily dismissed?
Many thinkers today are willing to stand for the spiritual view - and pray for it - because the reality of God and His divine, perfectly good creation is to them more powerful and substantial than any view of life that opts for less. Understanding and accepting the unity of God's family, revealed in each of us through expressing God's love, together with denying hateful and fearful influences, isn't simplistic or naive. It's profound. It can heal broken hearts, broken lives, and a broken world.
In the Bible, John's Gospel recounts the words of Christ Jesus: "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another" (John 13:34). The First Epistle of John repeats this commandment, and the Christian Science textbook goes on to say, " 'Love one another' (I John, iii. 23), is the most simple and profound counsel of the inspired writer" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," by Mary Baker Eddy, pg. 572).
There are not any exceptions to that commandment. We are to love one another and one another and one another, until we love every "one another." Start with the person sitting next to you on the bus; don't stop until your spiritual sense of love embraces the world.
And we will, at the same time, truly appreciate the diversity we find in our unity. We'll love each other's differences because we see them as qualities of God individually reflected. We'll see "the heart of the eagle" within. Get past the limited, material view of each other and see the spirit of God's love and grace within. We'll soar free - together.
(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society