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  • Writer's pictureThe Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples

Dreaming a New World | July 23, 2023 Rev Dr. Kathryn Benton



I like the idea that we are to play with this idea. That is what I hope we can learn to do. That is what I hope can lead us to the dreaming of a new world…one where we can work together, believing deeply in our own worth and in our relatedness and connection. A teacher of mine, Gabor Maté said this in his new book, The Myth of Normal:


Our concept of well-being must move from the individual

to the global in every sense of the word.


Maté is a physician and author of books dealing with topics from addiction to trauma…from child development to ADHD. These words point to, I think, a call to wholeness and a call to healing…a call to the recognition that we are all part of the whole. It is a deep recognition that we are connected one to another…that we are connected perhaps through our shared humanity…our shared creatureliness…as part of this great universe birthed in mystery…birthed in the form of a web…a cosmic web…





The importance of viewing this information from the new telescope cannot be overstated. Of course, this is difficult to get our minds around, but without this story, we may never be able to overcome our sense of fragmentation. And we are often tempted to see ourselves as separate beings…not connected to anything else, especially after the experience of COVID-19 when we were often literally isolated. We have cut off parts of ourselves…as individuals and as a nation…cut off the parts that we do not want to deal with…the parts that scare us. This has led to a fragmented reality that has made us unable to view the whole…in ourselves and in the world. This, at a time when we arguably have the most access to information beyond what Howard Thurman calls our little lives. He writes:


Our little lives, our big problems – these we place upon Thy altar!

For some the evils of the world tear down all concentrations

And scatter the focus of the high resolves.


And for some thoughts of the evils of the world are just too much to handle. We become closed off to the warnings…to the dire nature of climate change…of nuclear proliferation…of rampant consumerism…of violence and oppression…of lies and deception. And worse, we ignore their connection with these little lives that we live. Instead, we need to keep in focus both the binding unity …the fact that we are indeed all one and our own moment of high resolve…our responsibility for our own lives in the stark ordinariness of the now calls to us. In his meditation entitled, We Are All One Thurman writes:


…it is very comforting to withdraw from the responsibility of unity with one’s fellows and to enter alone into the solitary contemplation of God. One can have a perfect orgy of solitary communion without the risks of being misunderstood, of having one’s words twisted, of having to be on the defensive about one’s true or alleged attitude. In the quiet fellowship with one’s God, one may seem to be relieved of any necessity to make headway against heavy odds.


And today there are such heavy odds and there is a deep necessity to make headway against these odds. It is not a time for fragmentation or solitary communion…though it is a time for communion with the all-pervading presence…the source and goal of our longing…the Spirit of Life that undergirds and surrounds our existence.


In his pursuit of healing and well-being for the individual and the world, Maté further points out that people today are experiencing a profound lack of hope for the future…a sense of being overwhelmed. Perhaps even more worrisome is that we are often not even aware of these realities. David Foster Wallace wrote, “the most obvious, ubiquitous, important realities are often the ones hardest to see and talk about”. And this is the danger! Until we are able to internalize the truth that we are indeed all one…that there is what Thurman calls a binding unity that connect us all…we will not be able to work toward that dream of the Earth…the dream of a new world where we work together to solve our problems…a new world where compassion, love, peace and justice reigns.


I am drawn to the late Thomas Berry’s idea of the Dream of the Earth. He speaks of listening to the Earth in order to learn her ways…in order to be guided toward the future that is calling us. He writes of the need to change all of our human systems, taking into account the needs of the Earth as well as human needs. His dream is based on the Universe Story. Calling the Universe sacred and a divine manifestation, Berry’s philosophy is clearly creation-centered and clearly spiritual. It is a spiritual Universe based to a large extent on indigenous wisdom and the story being documented by the Webb telescope. His is a message of hope that we desperately need today. It is a reminder that we are of the Earth and of the stars and that we are made up of the same stuff as the birds and the bees, the plants and the fungi, the elephant and the tiger. It is also a reminder that we are connected at a deep level to each other. Without this knowledge…this internalized belief, we will not be able to face the heavy odds against us and we will not be able to see our own light…our own possibilities. Maté continues…


Each of us contains as yet–unimagined possibilities for wellness.


I love Maté’s optimism! He recognizes the untapped and unimagined potential for healing…pay attention to the parts of ourselves and the parts of our world that scare us…parts that we want to hide from and not deal with. There is a potential for wholeness…for being able to create the world that Langston Hughes was sure there will be…for being able to bring back our mighty dream. This is good news! For it means that both individually and collectively we can connect to the dream of Thomas Berry…to the creation of a more global concept of well-being…of health and wholeness…to a New Creation!


I continue to draw on Maté’s optimism. This is a person who was born in Nazi-occupied Hungary and has had to deal with this history of trauma throughout his life. This is a person that has worked in various challenging settings as a physician and healer. If he can have hope for our ability to heal…to come together and do what is required of us, then so can I…


Healing is not guaranteed, but it is available.

It is no exaggeration to say at this point in Earth’s history

that it is also required.

Everything I have seen and learned over the years

gives me confidence that we have it in us.




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