Two things I read today are reinforcing some of the thoughts I've touched on or more fully expressed in recent posts (Unity and Body of Christ: All God Has Is Me ).
I've been reading "Prayers of the Cosmos" for a while. (Usually, when a book speaks so loudly to me I gobble it up, but I am slowly savouring this one). Today, I read chapter 5 (Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread) "The Blessing of Earthiness: The Next Step". From the author's textual notes I read, "In the first half of the prayer we remember the One and feel our blessing from the cosmos. In the second half we begin a new cycle of blessing, but in an even more embodied and practical way: we face each other and remember the divine Many. This section begins from the earth up. The prayer pushes us beyond an introverted spirituality to consider everything in our dealings with others..." (italics mine)
I'm also reading the Pendle Hill pamphlet by Thomas Gates "Members One of Another: The Dynamics of Membership in Quaker Meeting". On page 8 the author says, "In Quaker faith and practice, the individual and the meeting are in a dynamic, mutually supportive, and reciprocal relation. Viewed from the perspective of the wider culture, our most "counter cultural" claim is that, far from being mutually exclusive, true community and true individuality reinforce one another. We believe that the most vital communities are those which do not fear to encourage their members' individuality. At the same time, we believe that authentic individuality is most likely to arise not in opposition to community, but within the matrix of a supportive and nurturing community. What Joan Chittister has said about the Benedictine monastery applies also to the Quaker meeting: "It is not that there is no room for self here. It is just that self grows best when self is not its end.""
I am unique. Each of us is unique with our own gifts and talents, weaknesses and foibles. Without our uniquenesses, we do not make a 'body'; with our individualities we do, but we also have ego tied to the individuality. The key is to share our gifts with one another without getting all puffed up about it.
Right now, coming to the understanding of moving "beyond an introverted spirituality" is helping me learn humility. I am one united with Many. My self is a gift from the Divine Source, and is also my gift to that Divine Source. My self, ultimately, ideally, would transcend the ego and be a constant source of praise in service to God.