I lead weekly Thursday morning lovingkindness meditations at the University of St. Thomas. I vary the form of the meditation from week to week.
This morning, I walked into the meditation room after spending a few minutes reading political posts of one sort or another online. That prompted me to guide the meditation in a way different than I had before, a way that seemed appropriate in this last week before our presidential election.
After settling ourselves, I started (as these meditations traditionally start) by asking the participants to call to mind someone who easily evokes feelings of love and warmth in them. Using a traditional formulation of wishes, we expressed the wish toward those persons:
May you be filled with lovingkindness.
May you be safe from inner and outer dangers.
May you be well in body in mind.
May you be at ease and happy.
At that point I veered off the normal progression of the objects of the meditation to ask the participants to visualize, in a single picture, images of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. To see them, notwithstanding their flaws, as individuals made in God’s image who need love and compassion. To, without preference, extend to them the same wishes we extend toward those we more easily love.
After a while, we moved to a series of other visualization:
– in a single picture, images of two friends acquaintances, one of whom is a Trump supporter and another of whom is a Clinton supporter
– in a single picture, images of Black Lives matter protesters and police accused of excessive use of force
– in a single picture, an image of Palestinians and Israelis
I added a few more, and, in each case, we extended the same wishes we extended toward those we love.
You get the idea and the point is pretty clear. We live in a wounded world, a world of so many divisions. And in that world, we are called to an agapic love that is universal and that desires the well-being of the other regardless of their behavior.
I’m not saying we can’t have preferences among candidates – clearly we all do and our votes should express those preferences. But we are also called to recognize that each of us – notwithstanding our flaws – is made in God’s image. And should be a recipient of our love and compassion.