Have you ever learned a new word or phrase, and then come across that word of phrase frequently afterward? Is this a coincidence or did your mind simply filter out what it didn’t recognize or understand before?
I remember with unusual clarity the first time I heard the words, “That All May Be One.” It was back in 2003 and I had just started a brand new job working as the Communications Director for the Sisters of St. Joseph. Although I grew up Catholic, I had never worked for a religious organization before. My initial reaction upon hearing that this phrase was the essence of the Sisters’ mission of unity, which I would be responsible for sharing with the world, was: “huh?”
Coming from the corporate world where the only mission anyone cared about was how to make money, I wasn’t sure what this phrase meant or what I was supposed to do with it. But like a guitar string being plucked, something about these words resonated in me. I needed to know more. Not only to do my job well, but because I felt a deep connection to this bold and new (to me) idea.
So I studied the Scripture from where these simple words come (John 17:21). I considered the enormity of them. Are all living things really connected? Does everything we do and say and think affect everyone and everything else? And God? And all creation? I knew that I had found something that would change me, and that I would never look at the world in quite the same way again.
Fast forward 15 years. Today, I believe in these words that form the basis of the mission of the Sisters of St. Joseph more than ever. But the idea that all living things are connected to one another and to God no longer feels revolutionary to me. It now feels more like, “Of course we are! How could we not be?” And this idea exists not only in a religious or spiritual context, but seemingly everywhere I look. Even in popular culture. In places you might least expect.
For example, the House of Blues has this sign above the stage in Las Vegas, and variations of it in many of their different locations. If you look closely, you can see representations of all the world’s major religions on either side, and in the middle the words, “All Are One” are written in the space above the words “Unity In Diversity”.
Many of my favorite songs include the concept, which I had not paid much attention to before. In “One Love” by reggae artist Bob Marley, he sings, “One love, one heart, let’s get together and feel alright.”
In “Imagine” John Lennon sings,
Irish rock band U2, who’s lead singer Bono has championed many human rights issues, crystallizes human connectedness in their song, “One”:
Many movies have this theme running through them as well. In the latest adaptation of “The Three Musketeers” released in 2011, the famous “All For One and One For All” cry carries more meaning than for just their small group. In the Lion King franchise, we see wise King Simba echo this throughout as he rules his kingdom.
Even Starbucks got into it last year with their highly anticipated Christmas cup design. Here is their Facebook explanation of the design:
Now that I am aware of it, I see the mission of the Sisters of St. Joseph – that all life is connected with each other, and with God – in so many different places. Perhaps you’ll see it now too.
About the Author
Gina Sullivan is the Director of Communications for the Congregation of St. Joseph, and is also a Congregation of St. Joseph Associate. She is the mother of two daughters ages 19 and 16. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, walking, reading and experiencing new places and people.