Life is full of opportunities. Some of them we choose, some seem thrust upon us and some might be a combination of origins. I was born with a rare form of dwarfism. On some level we can argue I chose that or my soul made that choice but it was a reality that shaped my life from day one. It feels like I came into the world with a sense of spirituality. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t know some power I called God or Spirit. It didn’t come from any church I attended because I wasn’t comfortable with the ways they talked about a judging and condemning God. It may have come from my father who was a spiritual seeker in the Cherokee tradition. In 1985 I discovered a faith tradition called Unity. I can talk about how that discovery unfolded at some other point. For now, the next turning point was my ordination as a Unity minister in 2004. Now I find myself clergy in a new thought tradition that values healing and I identify as a person affected by disability. So what, exactly, is wholeness? We talk a lot about spiritual wholeness and expressing wholeness in our humanity. What does wholeness expressing in our humanity look like? I began to question how my peers in disability advocacy viewed spirituality. Were they comfortable with how their clergy talked about stories in the Bible about healing and the people asking for healing? I questioned how my tradition might avoid discussions of disability and I questioned how other traditions viewed those impacted by disability. To open a discussion within my own tradition I wrote an article for the Unity Magazine titled Radical Wholeness. Writing an article was clearly my choice and I hoped it would be an opportunity to share a new perspective. Honestly I was endeavoring to tip some spiritual cows and challenge some of the language we have taken for granted.
If you ask most people what wholeness looks like in humanity you will get a description of an able-bodied, at least average intelligence person. We can be open about gender and gender identity, sexual orientation, race and ethnicity. When you label a person “whole”, most people are not open to taking away those physical, mental and emotional characteristics we attribute to able-bodied. IF you are different than the “normative value” of size, shape and ability, then there is room for improvement. Traditionally in religion we might call that improvement healing.
Those who look to the Bible as a reference go to the verse in Genesis that declares humanity made in the “image and likeness of God”. For centuries we used that backwards to create an image of God based on humanity. Mystics have looked beyond a simple formula for humanity to perceive the image and likeness to be an essence of love, creativity and power that lies within each human being. While that essence is the same, we understand humanity to be designed with infinite variety so that no two beings are exactly the same. It occurred to me the infinite variety of human design did not fit with only one, prescribed picture of how that inner spiritual wholeness out-pictured in the body and experiences of each individual. What if the wholeness within could be expressed in persons lacking vision, missing a limb, unable to speak or unable to comprehend the math of 2 + 2? This is Radical Wholeness. The essence of all persons is the Oneness of Spirit. No one gets to judge how wholeness shows up in another person.