The Greater Family


by Kathy Harwood Long

Love alone is capable of uniting living beings in such a way as to complete and fulfill them, for it alone takes them and joins them by what is deepest in themselves. 

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Dear readers–I’m writing to you all while attending The Parliament of World’s Religions (PoWR) in Chicago. People from over 80 nations have gathered for the ninth time in 130 years to foster a Global Ethic for “Defending Freedom & Human Rights.” While here, I have felt a deep connection with my Greater Family, my spiritual family. Religions do not define the spiritual but are a way of living, working, and serving for the well-being of all– including the earth, water, air, and all creatures. We feel most true, fulfilled, and purposeful in this great Spirit of care and cooperation. 

It is imperative that we seek out our Greater Family. Within this type of community, we are more likely to find the kind of support that steadies and helps us heal our woundedness, whether from past experiences or current traumas. Our Greater Family on the planet made up of people of all colors, cultures, and languages, supports the work and ethics that is required in our families of origin, neighborhoods, cities, states, and countries. I know this to be true personally within my biological family, within the church communities I have served, with the co-workers and families at Upland Hills School, and in the town I’ve called home for 20 years: 

Oxford Michigan.

On the first day at PoWR, I spent time at a prayer display of 30,000 ribbons –one for each child who has died from gun violence since Sandy Hook. I wrote the names of the four killed at Oxford High School on Nov 30, 2021: Hana St. Juliana, Madisyn Baldwin, Tate Myre, and Justin Shilling. I cried long and hard as I also wrote the names of the many who have been so affected by this persistent tragedy across our nation. I then joined a prayer circle led by Lakota elders and other spiritual leaders from several countries and began to feel strength in our collective desire to pray, to grieve, to ground, and honor the great Spirit of Love. 

The Greater Family is in our midst, drawing us together to heal and make our way through challenging times. Whether at a Parliament of World’s Religions with upwards of 8000 people or in your locale, we are finding each other. We are the Greater Family that addresses what pains us with the ethic of care and cooperation. Recently, in Oxford, hundreds of people from the community gathered to break ground for Hana’s Memorial Garden at Seymour Lake Township Park. Chris Nordstrom from the planning company of Carlise and Wortman shared, “We can work together, and we can make some changes and make a difference.” 

Our Greater Family can and is doing what one person may think impossible. May we each choose to show up for the Greater Family. We can do this….Just do it!


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