A few years ago, I was reading a National Geographic article about gravesites in the Sahara that dated from over 8,000 years ago. Buried in one of the graves was a young woman and a child. They had been laid in the grave with great care on a bed of flowers, reposed in a loving embrace. It immediately occurred to me that likely missing from the picture was the heartbroken husband and father, who had so lovingly buried his young family, taken from him by some unknown tragedy. I could not help but think how I would have felt at such a devastating loss and I was overwhelmed by the grief he felt, even across 8,000 years and half a world away.
Our ability to empathize with other human beings is truly remarkable. It is one of the great strengths of our species and rooted in our shared humanity. For millennia, the great faith traditions have been teaching that we are all brothers and sisters. Science has now confirmed that belief by discovering that all of us share 99.9% of the same genome.
In a time when there is such discord and division in the country, the holiday season is an apropos time to remind ourselves of our shared humanity. I recently discovered At this Table, a song which does exactly that. It was written by Idina Menzel and Jonas Myrin. Menzel, who sang the Disney blockbuster Let it Go from Frozen, released it on her Christmas album Christmas: A Season of Love. It has since been used extensively at Christian communion services. However, there are no overtly Christian, or even religious references in the song’s lyrics. Nonetheless, its spiritual message is clear. I hope you enjoy it.
Merry Christmas to my fellow Christians and happy holidays to my brothers and sisters that follow another path.