At the fourth session of our Deeptime Leadership Program, contemplative practitioner Cliff Berrien introduced the principle of Matrix about the embeddedness of relationship. While working at The Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque, N.M., Cliff collaborated with the esteemed Rev. Dr. Barbara A. Holmes for several years, and continues to do so. He explored Matrix in relation to Embeddedness, Diversity, Communion, and the Community called Beloved.

Opening with an African proverb, Cliff invoked his hope that the presentation would be a beneficial opportunity for growth for us all. Viewing race through a cosmological lens, he contextualized race as being about Emerging Wholeness. In referencing Dr. Holmes’ book Race and the Cosmos, Cliff described God as being “inside and outside me,” and that “God is community.” His understanding of race as being about love—rather than culture, history, or anthropology—made a lot of sense to me. As we literally come from one tribe, he invited us to be good loving neighbors. I agree with Cliff that the best thing we humans can do is to come together and create a beloved community!

Theoretical physicist Sarbmeet Kanwal elaborated on this idea:

If we look at race through the lens of cosmology then, like all matrices we find ourselves embedded in, it is about differentiation, subjectivity and community. Our historical tendencies to colonize and wield power over each other have resulted in us using race as a tool for separation and dominion, instead of understanding its true cosmic purpose as a way to enrich and evolve the collection of allurements, through which new being is evoked. This new being is what Cliff refers to as the beloved community. We cannot overcome this hindrance to our ongoing evolution through raising our voices against it and chiding each other (which is most of what we have been doing so far). We have to wake up to the cosmic context and realize that the purpose of this differentiation is to evoke a greater form of love, one that goes as deep as the connections that we enjoy with our fellow humans and with the environment that has helped us survive and thrive. It is the embracing of our cosmic heritage that will bring about the healing that we are all yearning for.

To better understand Matrix, Cliff shared that although our human, ecological, and political systems name things in separated categories, the planet is relational. Metaphorically, the reason we are not floating off into space is because our mother the Earth is holding us, like a hug.

Cliff led us in two powerful exercises. In western culture, yellow corn is portrayed as the main, normal, natural color of corn, instead of a rainbow of colors. Consequently, we miss how richly colorful corn actually is. His exercise made me realize that our western culture influences us to subconsciously devalue all other colors of corn except yellow. Instead of enjoying and celebrating the jewel-like beauty of multicolored corn, we experience a kind of deprivation.

In another exercise, Cliff asked us to think about what it means to know that we all come from the first African woman. My response was unexpected. I felt that I had found and reconnected with my original mother! A sense of feeling jubilant and empowered arose within me. The loaded question of who my ancestors were dissolved as I felt like I was plugged directly into the source of where I came from. Like an electric plug that fits into its socket, the dis-ease of separability was gone. It was amazingly powerful to feel no longer separated from my original mother.

Taking this idea further, Sarbmeet’s response was: “Can you imagine the feeling when we start to feel plugged directly into the power of the big bang? That is how powerful our creativity is.”

Skillfully weaving together many important themes in a Deeptime perspective, Cliff shared the perspective and power of Matrix as a differentiated whole in all our lives. His powerful and compassionate session offered us a kind of collective Kintsugi—the Japanese art of repair of putting broken pottery pieces back together with gold. This metaphor for transformation highlights our history and honors our repaired beauty.

Cliff’s session opened the door for ongoing conversations, exploration, and action within a Deeptime perspective. It created an opening in which we can resonate with and reflect a magnificent, complex Cosmos that elicits, requires, values and celebrates difference.