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Feeling Israel

2020-08-01 | Liz Walz, Executive Director

Category: Blog

Sequoia poses with Fr. Pete & Liz


A few years ago, when I was in California visiting Fr. Peter Campbell, he shared with me an insight that had influenced him a great deal: In the Hebrew worldview and scriptures, Israel is understood both an individual and a community.

“It is interesting, at the outset, to notice the remarkable fluidity and ease with which the Old and New Testament authors slip back and forth between their descriptions of an entire tribe and the individual members of it…From a Semitic perspective, the individual member of a tribe actually stands for and sums up the particular group from which he or she has sprung. All of the whole is in the part…There is here no sense of collectivity or aggregation, no parts outside of parts, just an appreciation of some primordial organicity or bodily felt tied-togetherness.” (Campbell, McMahon, 1985, p.90)

In these months of physical distancing during the COID-19 pandemic, I have paradoxically experienced this bodily felt tied-togetherness:

  • With Genesis staff in the context of an empty, echoing building in April;
  • During bedside vigil with my family as my father made his great transition in June;
  • With women everywhere through (another) “me too” moment upon reading reports of alleged sexual misconduct by composer David Haas;
  • With black and brown people and the white people who stood with them, practicing civil disobedience in protests ignited by the killing of George Floyd;
  • And in virtual, daily prayer gatherings and spiritual programs…

Fathers Campbell and McMahon continue, “A human being’s primordial options (for evolution) now lie more within the heart. The blessing here is that they are more flexible. These choices are not irrevocable. Once the antler has grown, once the claws are in place, there is no turning back for that species. For us, however, there is space for maneuvering. Our psychological specializations are more malleable…we must opt for continued openness and advance or isolating closure, control and specialization…Carried to an extreme, voluntary closure in the human being marks the appearance of what biblical tradition speaks of as sin…That is why the Bible poses another dramatic option to sustain the forward thrust of human evolution. It speaks of metanoia, conversion. A return to the way. It is a coming home once again in openness to the unfolding inner destiny which calls us ahead.” (p.94)

You and I are tied-together in a felt way with all people, all creatures and Earth. Our tribal boundaries are expanding and intersecting in our growing recognition that we are One. This resonance is experienced in our bodies, it sounds in our hearts. Pausing to notice this is a way to pray with our bodily felt-sense; it furthers our metanoia, our putting on the mind of Christ.

May we reveal our tied-togetherness in our words and actions today and every day.



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It is the duty of every cultured man or woman to read sympathetically the scriptures of the world. If we are to respect others' religions as we would have them respect our own, a friendly study of the world's religions is a sacred duty.
- Mahatma Gandhi