Separation from God is an illusion
One of the most important things for humans to have in their lives is healthy relationships. We can certainly survive, and even live a long life without forming close relationships, but without the bonds we form with others, it is not a whole lot of fun.
Most people have loved and lost, been rejected, neglected, or have refrained from ever forming relationships for fear of loss, rejection, or neglect. This is a characteristic of the human condition. In some way, all of these are a result of some form of separation from interaction.
The most important relationship in anyone’s life is not with their spouse, children or parents, but with themselves. There is a cliché, “wherever you go, there you are,” (it is also the title of a book by Jon Kabat-Zinn that I highly recommend). People may roll their eyes or harrumph when they hear well-worn phrases, but the reason that they are well-worn is because they hold more than a small semblance of truth.
Just as we can never be separated from ourselves, neither can we ever be separated from God. In this Lenten season, we remember The Passion of Christ. When Jesus was being crucified, one of the things he said was - "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?" or "My God, My God, Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me?" Matthew 27:46. In his great suffering, Jesus felt as though he had been abandoned by God. Under those circumstances, who would not think so?
While most people will never have to endure the pain and death of a public execution, there are times in our lives when we, too, may feel as though we have been deserted by God. Health challenges, the death of a loved one, loss of a job, the break up of a relationship, addiction, etc., the list is potentially endless, all may leave us feeling separated from God.
But Jesus returned to himself, even in his despair, and his final words upon the cross were. “Father, into your hands I commend my Spirit.” Luke 23:46. He knew what Paul reminds us of in his first letter to the Corinthians, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?” 1 Corinthians 6:19. He would not have been able to say those words unless he had once again realized that he was one with the Father.
Rev. Joanne reminds us that Unity does not teach that being “one with the Father” means that we will never experience challenges in life. Likewise, Unity does not teach that in order to know God we must suffer. When the outcome we are seeking does not occur it does not mean that God has abandoned us, rather it means that no matter what we are going through, God is available to help us.
What does it really mean when we say, “We are all whole and holy?” Let us take a look at the “whole” part first. When a person experiences serious health challenges, or loss of life or limb, they likely are not feeling “whole.” If a person has lost a loved one, the breakup of a relationship, or isolation and loneliness, they are also probably not feeling “whole.”
In Unity, when we speak of wholeness, we are not referring to some ideal of physical, emotional, or psychological well-being. Charles Fillmore defines wholeness as:
The perfect unification and expression of man as Spirit, soul, and body. True healing means to make whole. It is brought about by regeneration.1
When most people hear the word holy, images of God, Jesus, or saints with halos come to mind. But in Unity holiness is:
Wholeness in Spirit, mind, and body. In this state of consciousness, man is aware of the all-pervading glory of God.2
These two definitions are similar, with a subtle, but important difference. Wholeness is the idea that mind, body and spirit are perfectly unified in humans. Holiness is the state of consciousness that allows us to be aware that we have this innate characteristic. When we examine the dictionary definitions of these two words, we see that they are consistent with the ideas that Unity teaches.
Whole - having all its proper parts or components: complete, unmodified3
Holy - exalted or worthy of complete devotion as one perfect in goodness and righteousness4
Our essence is of God, therefore we are automatically complete. And because we were created in the image of God, we are at our essence, “very good.” It is only when we forget these Truths that we experience the feeling of abandonment and separation from God. When we remember that we are in fact, whole and holy, we will recognize that regardless of what we are experiencing, we are being given an opportunity to know God and grow in our spiritual understanding.
One of the great and innovative thinkers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Sigmund Freud provided some great insights into the human condition. Yet when he arrived at many of his greatest insights he found that, “Everywhere I go I find a poet has been there before me.” This is often true not just in psychology, but history, philosophy, and theology.
Saying in a few couplets what may take an entire book of prose, a poet has indeed been there before us, expressing the oneness of humanity with God:
The Higher Pantheism
Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-1892)
The sun, the moon, the stars, the seas, the hills and the plains,-
Are not these, O Soul, the Vision of Him who reigns?
Is not the Vision He, tho' He be not that which He seems?
Dreams are true while they last, and do we not live in dreams?
Earth, these solid stars, this weight of body and limb,
Are they not sign and symbol of thy division from Him?
Dark is the world to thee; thyself art the reason why,
For is He not all but thou, that hast power to feel "I am I"?
Glory about thee, without thee; and thou fulfillest thy doom,
Making Him broken gleams and a stifled splendour and gloom.
Speak to Him, thou, for He hears, and Spirit with Spirit can meet-
Closer is He than breathing, and nearer than hands and feet.
God is law, say the wise; O soul, and let us rejoice,
For if He thunder by law the thunder is yet His voice.
Law is God, say some; no God at all, says the fool,
For all we have power to see is a straight staff bent in a pool;
And the ear of man cannot hear, and the eye of man cannot see;
But if we could see and hear, this Vision-were it not He?
We can no more be separate from God than from our very breath. Although we may sometimes forget this Truth, God is always there whether we remember or not. Going within, we will find the “God of our strength,” and in so doing, will once again realize that we are indeed whole and holy.
There are only three things that last: faith, hope and love. 1 Corinthians 13:13
Take time this week to meditate/contemplate: I am made in the image and likeness of God. I am whole and holy. Throughout your day, pause and consider that you are whole and holy. As you do so, ask what would it look like to be whole and holy in this moment? As your wisdom guides, follow it. Be an expression of wholeness, of holiness, this week!
1,2Revealing Word, The – Fillmore, Charles, Unity Press, 1959.
3,4Merriam-Webster Dictionary, 2020.