Recently, I looked out my window and saw an unfamiliar animal in the yard. Over the years, I have gotten to know the neighborhood menagerie and look forward to spotting our neighbors’ dogs and cats. Birds are everywhere. Occasionally, someone passes by on horseback. Our next-door neighbor keeps several sheep and a cow.
But this was a new one. On closer inspection, I could tell this new animal was a rabbit. Fittingly, it showed up on Easter Sunday. I snapped a couple of pictures as I watched it hop around before making its way to a nearby yard. But the next day, something even more unusual happened: I saw the rabbit and our neighbor’s Russian Blue cat inches away from one another.
Observing the scene, my first thought was, That bunny’s a goner. I was hoping the rabbit could escape the cat, but, as I soon discovered, it didn’t need to.
This was not a predator-prey scenario, as I had first thought. To the contrary, the cat and rabbit were hanging out together, resting in the grass. When they were ready to move on, they went to the next yard and—suddenly animated—gamboled across the lawn, chasing and tumbling as they went.
It was a delight to see.
Later, I caught myself remembering the scene and thinking they didn’t belong together. Looking deeper, I realized I saw their togetherness as an anomaly, something outside the norm.
But then I recalled the times I found myself in the company of people who were different from me. At various times, I have been the youngest person in a group, and I’ve been the oldest. I’ve been the only American. The only person of my race or gender. The only person with my spiritual beliefs or political leanings. And it never bothered me. I never felt outnumbered or out of place. Indeed, I felt enlarged by those experiences, open and curious.
“When we live from our divine identities, we can be at ease with our differences … recognizing every person as a fellow spiritual being.”
Vive La Différence
It’s natural to want to surround ourselves with the people with whom we easily identify. Maybe we’re from the same neighborhood or part of the world, maybe we speak the same language or know the same people. Maybe we’re the same age and resonate with one another’s cultural references about music and movies. Maybe we share similar interests. Certainly, there’s comfort in that, a kind of social shorthand, an easy way of being. It’s as though we silently say to one another, You get me. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
But what are we missing when we stop there? Are we depriving ourselves of the richness and depth of living that comes from getting to know those outside our immediate circles? And are we missing out on a key aspect of spiritual living?
Think about it. If we let our differences keep us apart, stifle our curiosity, and keep us closed to new discoveries and experiences, how can we transcend those differences and know and feel our oneness?
We are divine beings. That is the truth of each of us. When we encounter one another with that truth in mind, it’s easier to see a kindred spirit and feel united by our common humanity and inherent spirituality. When we live from that spiritual awareness, we are at home everywhere, equally comfortable with those who are like us and those who are not. We can be open and curious and remain secure in ourselves.
When we live from our divine identities, we can be at ease with our differences. We won’t be stopped by others’ appearances, backgrounds, and histories because we’ll recognize every person as a fellow spiritual being. We’ll find comfort in that, a kind of spiritual shorthand, an easy way of being. No matter our age, nationality, race, or beliefs, we’ll silently say to one another, You get me. And we’ll be right about that.