When you begin a new thing, you really have no idea the direction it will take. Whether it is a new relationship or job or writing adventure, life happens. It’s been over a year since Unity Magazine published my article titled “Radical Wholeness”. The intention, at the time, was to challenge my own faith tradition’s theological approach to healing, specifically as it relates to those with disabilities and the language used by some of our most revered writers. My aim was to nudge ministers and spiritual leaders into examining their own theology and language around healing and disability and also, to provide a safe space for those with disabilities to access Unity’s empowering messages. I was excited about the possibilities. I got a couple encouraging responses from individuals with disabilities about a need for this. I got very little response from ministers. Undaunted, I began a blog. I was doing full time ministry so I didn’t have as much time as I wanted to write but I pushed on. The blog was linked to a Facebook page, where I also featured articles about individuals with disabilities and their accomplishments and perspectives. The Facebook page is a place to gain access to the perspectives of people who identify as disabled and just don’t give that word the negative connotation we have become indoctrinated with. Just as I was getting ready to retire and find more time, the pandemic hit. Ministry was overwhelming. Then came the deaths of Ahmaud Arbrey and George Floyd and the focus in the arenas of oppression were focused on Black Lives Matter. Not arguing the appropriateness of that focus and our need for changes to eliminate systemic racism. Just more life happening. And certainly there is inter-sectionality between Black lives, People Of Color (POC) and Disability.
It’s the end of September and Radical Wholeness is more than a year old. I’m not sure ministers and spiritual leaders feel compelled to examine their beliefs around disability because honestly, who wants to think they have limiting beliefs around groups of people when they claim to be spiritual leaders? Right now, many who are not Black are overwhelmed by confronting their complicity in systemic racism. The reach of Racial Wholeness to people with disabilities does not seem to be very broad yet. Honestly, I am finding our teachings haven’t always felt welcoming to people with disabilities so we don’t have as many individuals identifying with disabilities in those who follow Unity messages. I have also found, in other disability forums, people with disabilities have become so accustomed to “making do” with a world not designed for them, they often don’t confront or examine the ways their faith traditions discount them or exclude them. Although I have come to rely on spiritual practice to sustain me in social justice work, I understand those who feel differently. And we all use those parts of a spiritual practice that work for us and discard the rest, without a lot of reflection or searching for a different path. I am not saying that is invalid as a spiritual practice. It is just a new nuance in finding Radical Wholeness’ audience.
While I have been disappointed in the response of what I thought were my target audiences, a surprise audience has surfaced. The core of Radical Wholeness is the idea that each one of us is whole and complete in our spiritual nature, our spiritual or higher self, AND the idea that there is not a singular and superior way our spiritual nature out-pictures in our humanity.
Initially, this was presented as humans who were blind or deaf or dwarf were just as valid a picture of spiritual wholeness as humans who were tall and able-bodied. The surprise was that many people who do not identify with disabilities do see their humanity as broken and less than whole. They resonated with the idea that what they viewed as their brokenness did not disqualify them from being an expression of spiritual wholeness. Or maybe it was a rebellion against being judged as broken and having internalized that message. Still, people who did not identify with disabilities liked the Radical Wholeness message. They liked exploring there is not a singular destination for healing and others should not presume to know the healing needed or taking place in any of us. I have some indication they hear the message of Radical Wholeness as relevant to their lives.
So I will keep writing for Radical Wholeness. I truly hope you will share the posts and maybe what you like about Radical Wholeness. Whether it challenges you to examine beliefs; whether it reveals your own wholeness and inspires you to live into your potential, no matter what limitations appear in the physical world; whether it connects you to others you did not see a commonality with—whatever draws you into this world of Radical Wholeness, WELCOME! We are all so magnificent and we all have ways we under-value ourselves. Perhaps the only healing we all seek is to know our divinity and claim that divine expression as who we are right this moment. Whatever we have come to believe or are still being told about our “differences” and the ways we do not fit the “average” mold, that misinformation has nothing to do with the possibilities available for us to live into. May we all find the truth of Radical Wholeness is relevant to our lives.
Photo caption: A silver pig with wings reflected in a silver edged mirror