Over the past few presidential cycles in the United States, a new way of characterizing division has emerged. Many discovered, perhaps to their surprise, that they inhabit either a red (Republican) or a blue (Democratic) state. At first I thought it was just a convenient way to discuss the election, but it seems to have stuck, and I'm still reading and hearing in the news about the reds and the blues.
There are plenty of other discussions of division, not just in my country and government, but all over the world, and in communities, churches, and families.
While diversity can be a good thing, division is not.
Some time ago while I was working with a group of people on a project, it became obvious that we were divided straight down the middle on nearly every topic, including what to have for lunch. At times, this division stymied the work and tainted the atmosphere. Unchecked, it grew in depth and intensity. This troubled me.
One day while on vacation, I was out working in the garden when it occurred to me that I didn't need to continue taking division for granted as the operating factor in this group. Right there in the flower bed, I saw that there was another idea available. And it was the very remedy for division - the idea of unity. Why not let unity replace division?
It was suddenly obvious that I could actually choose, and that just one in the group choosing unity could alter the course considerably.
Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Monitor, wrote in a sermon: "Each of Christ's little ones reflects the infinite One, and therefore is the seer's declaration true, that 'one on God's side is a majority' " ("Pulpit and Press," page 4).
I loved thinking of each individual in this group as one of the "little ones" reflecting God. This related us all as God's children, connected through God's love.
God, who is Love, supports harmony; in fact, harmony is something God makes, maintains, and knows.
I spent the rest of the vacation confirming in prayer that all God's children are good and obedient to God's good intentions and ways. The application of God's command in Genesis that His creation be fruitful and multiply took on new and clear meaning. I felt it was right for this group to be fruitful and for the work to be accomplished smoothly and amiably.
The very next time we came together, it felt like a brand-new group. Attitudes had softened dramatically, and working together was not only without strain, but a delight. I have no doubt that others in the group were praying about this, too.
This experience has stood as a beacon of hope that there is no division so deep or wide that cannot be remedied with prayer.
Since that time, I've seen divisiveness healed in families and marriages, as well as in churches. Instead of just helplessly looking on at the various manifestations of it, I've made a conscious decision to pray every day for unity. And not simply to pray in the morning and leave it, but to pray in the morning and practice unity, by accentuating similarities to others I encounter, rather than differences. Since this has not always been my approach, I see it as a direct effect of praying with the concept of oneness, or unity.
So what about the reds and blues and other examples of division? After a prayer session the other day came a bright, hopeful, healing thought. It was simply this: Red and blue make purple. This thought spoke to me of how a blend of contrasts can create something beautiful.
While at the moment we may see division, prayer can bring graceful blending, and we see our desire for unity erasing hard lines of division. We see one another more as God's royal children, living in His kingdom. United by our one Father, we can feel linked together as Malachi did when he wrote: "Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us?"
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is
to dwell together in unity!