Reflecting on the unseen relationships under our noses


Mr Badger is truly in reflective mood today. Two people who I have been close to have died recently. In their passing I’ve become aware of features of these relationships which I couldn’t see while they were alive. It makes me wonder what else I’ve missed. Indeed, is this offering me another glimpse of a deeper reason why the search for sustainability is so elusive?

One of the people now gone from my life was someone I saw every day. I enjoyed his happy demeanour, but for all our jesting I knew his attitudes to religion meant we had nothing in common at that level. Only on his deathbed was a chance discussion to lead to a strong common bond around the spirituality described by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a French philosopher and Jesuit priest. A rich vein of relationship was opened between us in those final days which has left me profoundly saddened at what I’d missed in this man through the certainty of my prejudiced assumptions

More recently a family member has died. I had considered him the brother I never had for the first 50 plus years of my life. More recently we had split apart and I’d not seen him for several years. When the shocking surprise news of his passing came I was perplexed at my reaction. I felt an aching emptiness and knew immediately my life had a hole in it. Even in the distance between us there had been a relationship which brought meaning to my life. Now I can only reminisce and feel the hollow which yearns to be filled.

So, under the influence of the sloth of sadness Mr Badger is holed up reflecting once again on what else is under his nose that he’s been overlooking. If I couldn’t clearly see the richness of these relationships with people close to me then what about my relationship with more distant people I rely on. What could I know for instance of those across the world who drill for oil and process it in refineries and factories into everyday items like the toothpaste in my bathroom cabinet, the clothes in my drawers or the packaging to send my food to the shops I buy from? What is the impact of my life on them and the air we all breathe? Is it conducive to making the world we all inhabit a better place to live.

At times like this I turn to the wisdom of sages for solace. Satish Kumar offered me deeper meaning with his observation, “Thomas Berry said ‘the Universe is not a collection of objects, it’s a communion of subjects’ and in one sentence he summarized the cultural therapy of our world.  It is what we need to understand—not only intellectually, but in our spirit, our soul, our emotions, our psyche. Deep, deep down in our being we have to understand that we are related. We are all connected.  And this relationship, this connection, is sacred.”

But today the last thought must go to Teilhard de Chardin:

“Love alone is capable of uniting living beings in such a way as to complete and fulfil them, for it alone takes them and joins them by what is deepest in themselves.”

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