Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.
Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend.
"There is both good and evil in the world, but the line separating them runs not between nations or institutions or groups or even individuals; the line that separates good and evil runs through the core of each nation, each institution, each group, and, most tellingly, through the core of each human being, through each one of us. Cutting through each one of us is the reality of our own limitation. “‘There is a crack in everything God has made,” Emerson observed, and—not least of all—in each one of us."
— Ernest Kurtz and Katherine Ketcham, The Spirituality of Imperfection
"But while Christ did not say to men, ‘Live for others,’ he pointed out that there was no difference at all between the lives of others and one’s own life. "
— Oscar Wilde
"The Pauline question whether circumcision is a condition of justification seems to me in present-day terms to be whether religion is a condition of salvation."
Dietrich Bonhoeffer (quoted by Peter Rollins in Insurrection: To Believe Is Human, To Doubt, Divine)
I have been reading the letters of Paul myself recently and I have come to a similar conclusion. Paul seems to make a rather strong case in Galatians against religious authority, and the letter of the law over the spirit of the faith which he sums up with “love thy neighbor as thyself.”