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Autumn is my favorite season, especially when the trees and undergrowth reach their peak brilliance of color. I love the subtle gradations of red, yellow, gold, orange, and even a bit of purple. Nature is showing off, giving us a grand display before signing off for the winter. Sadly, the leaves fall far too soon for my liking. Even before the first snowfall, the trees have become barren, branches stark and dull without their usual clothing. The bare limbs are a portent of winter, a season of darkness and drear.

Often, human experience has seasons of its own, though not necessarily in alignment with nature’s seasons, therefore less easily predicted or prepared for. Winter can come to us all when we least expect it, and it is no respecter of our responsibilities or life’s demands. This may be particularly true for clergy. The seasons of the church have their highs and lows as well, times when much is expected and quiet times when not much is happening in the local church. The problem is that there may be times when clergy are knee-deep in Advent or Lent when a period of struggle or depression hits. Congregations still expect their pastors to function at top proficiency, managing the usual demands of the season without skipping a beat. What is the clergyperson to do? To whom do they turn for the comfort, advice, and encouragement they need?

For laity, there is an easy answer to this question—call upon their pastor to supply spiritual guidance. Yet who is the pastor’s pastor? Technically, the district superintendent is supposed to fill that role, but there are many drawbacks to that answer. One is that the district superintendent is just as busy, if not busier, than the pastors in their care. Another problem is that, as the pastor’s supervisor, some clergy might be reluctant to reveal too much of their struggle lest it prove to negatively impact their DS’s opinion of them. And sometimes the DS is just not a good fit for the kind of person that an individual pastor needs at any given point in time. Again, where is the pastor to go?

This is why I believe it is crucial for clergy to have a strong support network of fellow clergy, whether within their own denomination or from their ecumenical neighbors. Few people outside of ministry truly understand the unique demands that pastors face, the joys and struggles, the burden of congregational expectations, the unpredictable hours, the interruptions, the deaths and tragedies that require a caring and compassionate response and add extra hours to their regular duties. When one’s energy is flagging from just the “ordinary” demands of the job, adding the needs of a suffering parishioner and their family can be just too much. Especially when the clergyperson is experiencing a winter season in their own life.

Clergy need each other! If you are in a deep emotional winter, seek out the support of a clergy friend, someone who knows you well and knows what you need to climb your way out of the darkness and get back on your feet again. Identify those people you feel safe with, people you trust to hold your story in confidentiality, and most of all, people who you know will respond appropriately. You need someone who embodies strong emotional intelligence, who has an instinct for saying the right thing at the right time. You need friends who will hold you up and support you until the difficult season passes. And it will. Just as fall turns to winter and winter turns to spring, you can be assured that your own personal darkness will eventually, with God’s grace, be bathed in light.

Sacred Spaces

I was recently blessed with an evening of wine and conversation with a few good friends. We talked about many things, some serious, some light-hearted—children, grandchildren, church, both global and local, hurts, joys, husbands, who speeds while driving and who doesn’t. The residual mood of the evening wrapped me in a warm cocoon as I went to bed, the sense of having been held in a space outside of time and place, overlaid with a patina of belonging and lit by the glow of grace. It’s hard to find those places this side of heaven, so when it happens, I think it’s important to hold the experience close, acknowledge the gift of it, and remember that this is a mere fraction of the love, warmth and belonging that is always available to us when we turn our minds and hearts toward the divine lover of our souls. When we are able to set aside the things of this world, our to-do list, our ambitions, the distractions of everyday life, God is waiting in the space that is created. Our dream of union with the Beloved is as close as our next breath, and the sense of completeness and absolute belonging is there to be tasted and touched, even if only for a moment. And truly, a moment is enough, for it can be savored long after.

One of my favorite parts of my Academy for Spiritual Formation experience was night prayer. There was just something about the darkened chapel—the silence and solemnity—that touched my soul and brought God near. So when I need to return to those moments, I step outside right before bed and repeat one of the prayers from that liturgy. I gaze at the night sky, breathe in the aroma of earth and water and am instantly transported to a time and place that are etched forever in my spiritual memory. We need these touchstones that are portals to another time and place, a memory of a different way of experiencing God, self, and others, a different way of being. Perhaps, if you think about it, they are portals to the kin-dom of God as it exists in the world right now, all around us, just waiting for us to enter in. And maybe the more that we create experiences of safety, love, and belonging, the more we bring heaven into the here and now. May it be so.

Let Your Light Shine!

If you’re a survivor of child sexual abuse, it can be pretty hard to walk through the door of a church. Maybe the church you were raised in was what I call a super-ego church—rigidly applying the rules found in the Bible and looking down their noses at anyone who failed to live up to their expectations. A church like that can cause you to wonder if that’s the way God feels too, in which case, you’d just as soon avoid church altogether. Or maybe you didn’t grow up in the church, but you feel a yearning toward the holy. Unfortunately, the public sexual abuse scandals make you think that not even a church can give you the sense of sanctuary and safety you hope for. All of those thoughts and feelings are perfectly legitimate for someone who has suffered the soul-destroying effects of child sexual abuse. But I think the primary reason that most survivors avoid church is that they feel defiled and unclean in the biblical sense of the word. They think they don’t deserve to enter the sacred space of a house of God. They doubt that they could ever belong in a place that is considered holy ground.

I had a co-worker years ago who was sexually and ritually abused as a child. He told me that for years walking through the door of a church was the hardest thing he had to do, which was particularly difficult since he was the pastor of that church! But he kept going, leading his flock despite his shame and fear, and at some point in his healing, church stopped feeling like such a challenge. He began to feel God’s loving presence there.

candle in dark room

This shame he felt, this sense of being damaged and unworthy is nearly universal among survivors. And yet, if you look at Scripture, you will see all manner of stories in which wounded, imperfect women and men were loved and accepted by Jesus. The Samaritan woman at the well who had lived with five different men (a hint of possible sexual abuse) was not only accepted by Jesus, but worthy of his pronouncement that he was the prophesied Messiah. And then he offered her living water! Likewise, when the Pharisees brought to Jesus a woman who had been caught in adultery (another hint), Jesus granted her amnesty from the sentence of stoning that her captors were eager to instigate. And when the woman with the twelve year flow of blood touched his garment, Jesus turned around—not because he was angry that someone unclean had touched him, but because he wanted to see her for who she was and give her compassion and healing. Jesus was known to hang out with prostitutes, tax collectors, and other people of ill repute. He did this because he understood that when people are suffering, they deserve love and acceptance, not judgment or exclusion from society.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said: “Don’t hide your light under a bushel.” While survivors feel that no light still exists in them, Jesus says otherwise. Certainly, abusers attempt to extinguish the light of their victims. Children who no longer have any light are easier to manipulate. Their shame prevents them from telling other adults what is happening to them. And this allows the abuser to continue their heinous actions. But few are successful at completely putting out that light. Most survivors I know still have a spark that longs to be fanned into a flame of love, faith, and healing. May you find a church that will honor and help feed that light. Step through its doors knowing that you are worthy of being there. Everyone is imperfect and messed up in one way or another, and God’s arms are wide enough to embrace us all. Let your light shine! Allow yourself to receive the benefits of being part of a community of faith that accepts you as you are, a beloved child of God.

Voices and Millstones

It’s almost starting to get routine, these splashy headlines about sex abuse scandals—gymnasts at Michigan State, wrestlers at Ohio State, and now the thousand or more victims of abuse by priests in Pennsylvania. The frequency of these headlines seems to dampen our outrage. It’s hard to maintain that intensity of feeling when these atrocities occur with such regularity. We have become inured to it. And the sheer number of victims is so high that it’s hard to comprehend, much less imagine the horror of their experiences. Especially when the church is involved, we have to wonder, where is God in this? How did God let this happen? Where were the structures and the people who were supposed to stop it, supposed to protect God’s children?

What I know is that God did not allow sexual predators to commit their horrible misdeeds; the offenders chose of their own free will to act out their perversions on the innocents. But at times like this, I try to remember something Jesus said to his disciples once, “It would be better to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around the neck than to face the punishment in store for harming one of these little ones.” (Luke 17:2, NLT) While this is never going to be the sentence in a criminal trial for a sex offender, the image satisfies me. God’s justice is not human justice, and we can never know the agonies that await those who would torture children for their own pleasure. And in the meantime, perhaps the more important question is, what can we do?

The answer for me is to be a voice for those who have had their voices taken from them, those who have been silenced. Part of the horror of sexual abuse is the silence that is demanded by the abusers. Victims are sworn to secrecy, sometimes through shaming, sometimes through threats of great harm to the victim or their loved ones. There is a saying that that which is unspoken becomes unspeakable. When a victim feels unable to talk about what is happening to them, the trauma is amplified because there is nowhere to go with it, no outlet for the fear, pain, and shame of their abuse.

So if the investigation in Philadelphia uncovered a thousand reports of abuse, then we can be assured that there are thousands more who have remained silent, whose voices have never been heard. The thing we can do is be their voice. Speak out for greater transparency, the implementation of stricter procedures for protecting children, more severe sentencing guidelines for the offenders, more help and support for those who are desperately in need of healing. Demand that all churches, not just the Catholic Church, take all the precautions necessary to make sure that such horrific headlines become a thing of the past. And listen. If there is someone you know who has been sexually abused, reawaken their voice by listening to their story. It might be a difficult story to hear, but not nearly as difficult as it was to live it.

Few of us are newspaper reporters or church reformers or mental health professionals, but everyone can be a voice crying in the wilderness, calling for justice and safety for “these little ones.” Maybe someday, the millstones will not be necessary.

Step by Step

Two weeks ago I had the chance to hear Barbara Brown Taylor speak at a conference I attended. She was talking about her book Learning to Walk in the Dark which challenges the idea that darkness is a bad thing. She believes that as spiritual beings we need to embrace the darkness and learn that God is present in darkness as well as light. She suggests that our fear of the dark is really a fear of the unknown. I had already read the book and enjoyed it, but listening to her talk, I found myself getting annoyed. She herself acknowledged that she speaks from a place of privilege, which helped me pinpoint my resistance to her message. For victims of sexual abuse, darkness is not unknown. They know full well what happens in the dark, and nothing about it is good. It’s actually the light of hope and healing that is the unknown. They want it and are afraid of it at the same time. They actually need to learn how to embrace the light rather than the darkness. For them, walking in the light takes just as much trust as it would for one who hasn’t experienced abuse to enter into the unknown darkness.

As I was practically sitting on my hands to keep from saying something in this huge ballroom full of about 500 people, a memory came to me from my work with a former client. She was a woman who had suffered profound sexual abuse at the hands of a beloved family member and was diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder (also known as multiple personality disorder). She had upwards of twenty different alters, one of whom was a young boy named Timmy. Timmy’s only experiences of life were related to abuse at the hands of a satanic cult. The only world he knew was the box in which he was kept to prevent him from getting away and the work bench he was secured to where the cult members performed their “rituals.” He had no experience of the outside world, which he called “The Big.” The idea of “The Big” was both frightening because it was unknown, and longed for as a place of freedom and light at the same time.

One day, I decided to take him outside for his first exposure to The Big. He was hesitant but fascinated as we walked around the building in which my office was located. Eventually, we came to an outdoor staircase, the kind that has no risers, so you can see through the stairs to the walkway below as you climb. Timmy made it up the stairs with no problem, but when we turned to go down, he balked. The height was terrifying to him, and he was determined that he was NOT going to walk down those stairs. At this point, I got a little panicked too, as I had no idea how I was going to get him down and back into my office before my next client arrived. Then the thought came to me, sit down! So we sat on the top step, and we talked about random things to get his mind off of how far away the ground seemed. When he appeared to be calmer, I suggested we slide our butts down to the next step. I showed him how, and he reluctantly followed. We talked some more and scooted to the next step, and the next, and the next, until we reached the ground safely.

As I listened to Barbara Brown Taylor wind up her presentation, it occurred to me that this incident with Timmy was a great metaphor for working with survivors of child sexual abuse. It speaks to the importance of being fully present with them as they seek to make their way into “The Big,” that expansive world of light and freedom and healing. It’s about listening, honoring, and caring. It’s about noticing. It’s about not pushing or trying to convince them of something they’re not ready for. It’s about slowing down, joining them where they are and taking it step by painstaking step. It doesn’t require special training to do this, just a big heart and a willingness to set aside your own agenda and simply be present to their journey from the all too familiar darkness into the unknown world of the light. May it be so.


That’s Not the God I Know

I had the privilege of presenting at the annual Search for Meaning Festival at Seattle University about my book, Healing the Ravaged Soul, on Saturday. It was a great experience, and my audience was deeply engaged in the subject, one that is often difficult to talk about. At the end of the presentation, there was a fifteen minute Q&A session. I fielded several really great questions, and then came the hardest question from a young man who is studying to become a mental health counselor. “How do I respond to a survivor of sexual abuse who says, ‘Everything happens for a reason,’ and still be respectful of their beliefs?” That is one of those statements that triggers such a strong negative response in me that I think I probably failed to give that young man the answer he deserved. But it did challenge me to come up with a better response after it was too late. Nonetheless, it’s a response that I want to share with my readers in the event any of you are ever in the situation of hearing those words that make you cringe.

Instead of my usual internal response, which is basically, “That’s BS,” I think I would say, “That’s not the God I know.” And then I would ask where that statement is coming from. Is it something the survivor actually believes, or is it something that others have told them? Because if it’s the first, then we can explore that belief together and how the “everything happens for a reason” statement turns God into a sadistic deity that intentionally makes bad things happen in order to fulfill some mysterious purpose. And it’s pretty difficult for a survivor of sexual abuse to trust in or desire relationship with a God like that. Then we can talk about the God I believe in, that displays love and compassion toward all God’s children, one who sorrows at the horrible things an abuser chooses to inflict on the innocents of this world. He/She is also a God that has the power to heal and transform the worst wounds humans can bear, but that doesn’t mean they were divinely caused.

However, if the statement arises because the survivor has heard it from misguided but well-meaning friends or church-goers, that’s a different conversation. Why do people so often feel compelled to repeat such a harmful platitude? Often, I think their purpose is to minimize their own discomfort at the difficult issue of child sexual abuse. It’s something to say when they don’t know what to say. Then they can pat themselves on the back for offering “comfort” to the survivor and go on their merry way. But then there are those who truly feel compelled to blame the victim, to judge their presumed lack of faith for struggling so much from the aftereffects of abuse. For them, the statement implies, “how can you be depressed or suicidal or self-harming when your abuse was intended to serve God’s purposes?” What they really want is for the survivor to pull themselves up by the boot straps and get over the abuse, so the speaker doesn’t have to be confronted with the reality of sexual abuse or any need on their part to do anything about it.

All of this is what I wish I had said to the young man with the great question. For what it’s worth, hopefully this blog post will reach even more people who will find it useful. What’s my response to “Everything happens for a reason”? “That’s not the God I know.”


My husband and I just returned from a trip to the British Isles, particularly Scotland and Ireland. We had the opportunity to see lots of castles and battlefields and ruined abbeys. The history of this beautiful place is inescapable—reminders of invasions, wars, and bloodshed everywhere. I was most touched by the abbeys—their walls, windows, and arches still standing, but their roofs long gone. There was something profound about being in a chapel that was open to the skies. I could imagine the people who had prayed there, people who had suffered unspeakable horrors in the name of power, land, or God and sometimes all of the above. Their pain echoed through the landscape; whispers of suffering filled my ears. The absence of a roof seemed right. It allowed those prayers to rise up to God without church doctrine and pettiness getting in the way.

Historically, churches literally provided sanctuary to the victims of war, pillaging, poverty, rape. No matter who you were, where you were from or what religion you professed, they took you in, no questions asked, and provided you with food, a bed, and meaningful work to do. Nowadays, the church seems to have forgotten how to do that. Their roofs and their rules seem to keep out the ones who need sanctuary the most. Many survivors of child sexual abuse have difficulty with organized religion. They are sometimes rejected by the church, not because of the abuse, but because of its aftermath—things like drug and alcohol abuse, self-harm, and other hard-to-shake coping mechanisms. It’s not easy to attend church when you feel that everyone is judging you. And it’s hard not to equate God with the church, but they are not the same. God is God, whatever you conceive the Divine to be, and church is a deeply flawed human institution that keeps on trying to be godly, and fails just as often as it gets it right. Maybe they would do better to take the roof off, allow the prayers of human suffering to rise, no longer held within the walls, but received by the vastness of the heavens and the One who listens and offers sanctuary even when no one else will.

Law of the Heart

“Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of the party.” Perhaps those of you old enough to have taken a typing class in high school will remember this sentence, as we had to type it repeatedly during drills and timed tests. I always thought it was a quote by someone famous during a particular time in our nation’s history. Turns out I was wrong. It was coined by Charles Weller, a typing instructor, for use as a typing drill. However, the sentiment is apt for the times we are facing as Americans. Perhaps it would be better stated as “Now is the time for all good citizens to come to the aid of their country.” I don’t think anyone would argue that we are in a time of crisis, a crucible for responsible citizenship. In Japanese, the symbol for the word “crisis” is a combination of the symbols for “danger” and “opportunity.” It is often helpful to explore what opportunities a crisis is presenting to us, and I think this is crucial to navigating the next four years, no matter which side of the political divide we are on.

One of the biggest opportunities is to stop taking a back seat and letting our elected officials drive the bus. We must get involved! The number of registered voters who chose not to vote is a shameful commentary on how many United States citizens have abdicated their responsibility to this nation that was founded on a democracy, of, by and for the people. The truth is that in order for the democracy to stand, we cannot sit back and let our legislators do the hard work of governing. We cannot rely on them to create a nation that upholds our values for inclusion, generosity, peace and justice. Because mostly what Congress is good at is maintaining the status quo. So it is incumbent on us to bring about the conditions we desire, a government that values every citizen, no matter what color, race, religion, sexual identity, income or social class.

In order to do this, one of the things we must conquer is our fear of the other. The divisions between us must be bridged. We have become so accustomed to the pendulum swing of government, the regular shifts of ruling party, that we have failed to recognize that the pendulum is now swinging farther and farther to the edges of partisan politics. And the wider that swing becomes, the less we feel like talking to each other. We settle into our comfortable encampments and only venture out when we absolutely have to. There’s no need to build a wall on the border, we’ve already built one, an invisible line between ideologies that keeps us from ever having to venture out of our comfort zones. And from within the walls of our fortress, we label everyone outside or different from us as “other.”

As it turns out, this “us versus them” mentality has been around for a really long time. As in, since the beginning of humankind. Think back to what you learned in school about prehistoric times. There were constantly warring tribes that threatened the territory and lives of the “other.” In order for a people to survive, they had to be wary and distrustful of strangers. Strangers could belong to a tribe that wanted nothing less than to slaughter your families and communities and take your land, your food, and your tools. Civilizations have been lost by such events. Cortez demolished the Aztec empire in his zeal to claim Mexico for the rulers of Spain. The early settlers of America soon set their sights on taking all the land “from sea to shining sea” in a vision of manifest destiny that denied the native Americans any right to the land they had inhabited for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years.

Through these kinds of experiences, humans learned to be distrustful. The suspicious ones survived when others did not. In a sense, through survival of the fittest, fear of the other became hardwired into our DNA. The most primitive part of our brain, home of the fight or flight response, which drives our need for safety, is also the part of the brain that is not connected to the parts that developed the capacity for emotion and logical thought. It is an instinctive and automatic response to those who are different.

Of course, I am not suggesting that we are incapable of change, just that it takes a lot of work to overcome our most basic human instinct. We have to be courageous enough to reach out, to learn about the other, to dare to be vulnerable in the name of finding common ground. We have to believe in the basic goodness of the other, at least enough to start a conversation. We have to challenge the voices that tell us that the person on the other side of the political fence is a horrible person. The thing is, both sides do it. And yet, I know many people who voted differently than I did who are good, caring people, people who believe in equality and who feed the hungry, support the poor, and practice radical hospitality. You might be surprised at their capacity for compassion. No political party has cornered the market on compassion. In fact, compassion is not something that can be legislated. Compassion is shown by those who follow a law of the heart rather than strictly abiding by the laws of government. Our country will become a better place, not when the “right” political party is in power, but when all of its citizens act with compassion where they are. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all work together toward that day? Administrations come and go, but the heart of a compassionate people never wavers. May it be so.

Nativity Mass

Darkness doesn’t fall

so much as it engulfs,

snuffing light from every furtive corner,

hiding places of shame and pain

and desperate


The detritus of addiction

litters gritty streets,

invisible remnants of the insatiable

desire to numb, to forget.

No glimmer escapes the cloaking,

oppressive night.

Souls bleed from unseen wounds,

deep red ooze merging

into blackness.


Suffering continues

years without end,

and humanity cries out


yet the clamor pierces eardrums

with its agonizing scream.

Eyes long emptied of a million tears

strain in the dark,

looking, looking

for the faintest hint of dawn.


How long?

How long until some One

lights a candle

in the mean streets of Bethlehem,

until a faint glow

begins to spread

and hope long dead


a tiny flicker in the dark.

Will it be now,

in this infant god,

whose flesh makes all flesh holy,

whose entrance on earth’s dark  stage

sanctifies human experience

and whose wounds heal our own?

Will it be here

that one small flame begins

to dispel the deepest gloom,

that one small flame of love

begins to warm

this long, cold night?

Here and now,

dawn begins to reveal the horizon.


“When will we let go of the idea that we’re separate?” These were the opening words of an address by Father Gregory Boyle, founder of Homeboy Industries, at a conference I recently attended. Living and working in the ganglands of Los Angeles, these words are particularly pertinent. Rival gangs fight to the death over their “turf” on a daily basis. But while the territory may be different and the issues multi-faceted, it seems that we are all fighting over turf in one way or another. Our gangs are not so much Crips vs. Bloods, as they are black vs. white, gay vs. straight, poor vs. rich, Republican vs. Democrat, Christian vs. Muslim—it’s all the same. We all operate by the principle that there are people like us, and then there are the “others.” The most recent election cycle and its sharply defined divisions are proof of that. It seems that Mother Teresa was right when she said, “We have forgotten that we belong to each other.”

It appears that we have lost our common humanity. We wall ourselves off in enclaves of sameness, where we can reassure ourselves that ours is the only perspective that matters. When our ideas do get challenged by the “other,” we can rush off to our fortress, where our friends will confirm for us that we are right, and everyone else is so very wrong—deluded, misinformed, perhaps even subhuman. The more isolated we become, the more different and dangerous the “other” seems, and the less desire to find common ground.

I recently read a comment by Bill Nye that reminds us that there is no such thing as race. Researchers have proven that humans are all one people. The variations in skin color, shape of features, build and musculature are all evolutionary adaptations to environment, climate, and the skills and abilities that were needed to survive in a particular place. “Each of us is much more alike than different,” he says. “We’re all made of the same star dust.”

What does it take for us to recognize this? The best way I know is through connection. When we allow the “other” in, when we get to know them in a deeper way, we discover the depths of heart that exist in all of us. We all laugh, cry, grieve, dream. In Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, the character of Shylock is a Jewish lender who has suffered endless mockery and discrimination at the hands of an elitist and privileged merchant named Antonio. Ultimately, their rivalry ends up in court, where Shylock makes this plea: “Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? Fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die?” This moving passage speaks to the common humanity we need to discover if we are to be loving citizens of our one common world.

The power of this connection is best exemplified by one of the stories Father Boyle shares in his book, Tattoos on the Heart. He tells of two homeboys from rival gangs who came to find work at Homeboy Industries. When they were first introduced to each other, they refused to speak or shake hands. They glared at each other, and it was clear that this could be a touchy situation. Nonetheless, Father Boyle decided to put them next to each other on an assembly line. He says that men might not talk much, but working side by side creates a bond that can break down barriers. Ultimately, Miguel and Chico became the closest of friends. Then, as happens too often in the barrio, Chico walked into the wrong bodega one night and was gunned down, his life taken in the split second it takes for a bullet to travel from a rival’s gun into Chico’s chest. When Father Boyle called Miguel to tell him what had happened, he heard Miguel’s anguished wail: “But he was my brother!”

You see, Miguel and Chico had discovered the truth that we belong to each other, not just as a concept, but as a lived reality. They learned that our differences need not divide us. Just like in a choir, it takes more than one note to create a harmony. We are all brothers and sisters in the human family, connected not by blood, but by the star dust from which we all came. Once we find that common bond, there is no longer an “us” versus “them,” only one people, one humanity, riding the same blue planet on our voyage through the galaxy. May it be so.