People fascinate me. I love people-watching when I am in an airport or restaurant, wherever people are gathered. We are all so very different, and yet we are very much the same.

People tend to break into subcultures and we see this when groups form.  We find people who are like-minded and bond with them and that’s perfectly ok. There are groups of people who like to bowl, people who like to hang out in bars, people who ride motorcycles together or engage in a myriad of different activities, people who attend church and all of the functions related to the church subculture of their choice. There are also people who have tattoos, who don’t have tattoos, who like rock music, jazz, bluegrass, and people who are heterosexual, homosexual or transgender. You get the idea. The people that belong to the various subcultures tend to mirror one another in dress, behavior, and attitude, and when these different subcultures bump up against one another the result is often dissention.

We differ and yet are similar. Our preferences, and culture we were born into may differ, but we are all human at the end of the day, so we are really more alike than we are different. The outward man differs, but the inward man is God-breathed spirit. We are spirit first, clothed in flesh.

I have the unique perspective of being both a nurse and an ordained pastor. The two professions are actually very similar; both deal with people, often when life is not going as planned. When the chips are down we tend to reach out to whomever may be able to provide comfort, reassurance, answers. I have been with people as they were dying, and I have been with those who are grieving the loss of loved ones. We are very much alike in those moments. We want to know that our lives mattered, that perhaps there is something beyond what we have known here on earth, and we want to believe we will be reunited with loved ones who have gone before us. As we are dying we turn inward and spend time reflecting on the life we lived, sometimes have regrets, become focused on relationships more so than on possessions; life is brought into perspective. Sometimes people who have never given much thought or attention to God want to make amends.

As a nurse I know that people are energy; that which animates flesh is made up of energy. What is that energy? As a spiritual advisor it is my belief that the energy is our spirit, God-breathed and unique in all of creation. When the spirit leaves the body, we leave the flesh behind. The spirit, that which gave the flesh life, is gone. In essence, death is a transition; for those of us who believe, we transition from life to life. Energy as we know it, cannot be destroyed.

Energy has no orientation. Energy does not bowl, or have tattoos, does not attend church, nor is it heterosexual or homosexual. The differences lie in the flesh and our existence while we are here on the earth. The differences don’t really matter in the long-run, so it makes sense that we shouldn’t focus as much on those temporal differences of the flesh, but the reality is that we do.

Sometimes we assign people to their own subculture. We make fun of people because they look different than we do, dress in a way that we may deem odd or unusual. We make jokes about people who are overweight or unattractive. We ignore the fact that those we “joke” about have feelings; they are human beings the same as you and me.

I hear people say that they do not like this group of people, or that group of people, and really what they are saying is that they do not know someone outside their like-minded subculture. What if we spent the time getting to know someone who wasn’t like us, someone from a totally different mindset or subculture? Would we have as much dissention in our world? I suspect not.

The LGBT community takes a fair amount of heat from people who do not understand their preferences, their desire to love another human of the same gender. If we believed, truly understood that the essence of people who identified with that subculture were in love with the spirit of another, perhaps we wouldn’t be so quick to judge and condemn. Likewise, those who choose to spend their weekends in bars,  those who like tattoos, like to bowl, or watch sports, or go to church wouldn’t attract as much condemnation either.

As we move closer to the holiday season, whether we celebrate Christmas as the birth of a Saviour, or Santa with all the trimmings, perhaps we may want to open our minds to the possibility of seeing those we don’t understand as they are; a God-breathed spirit wrapped in flesh, not so very different than ourselves. We all want to be loved, accepted, valued, and respected. We really are not so very different……..

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