The Chicago North Shore home where I attended a reception recently was magnificent: beautifully manicured, filled with elegant furniture and lovely art, overflowing with gracious, effervescent people. I had a warm and wonderful time.

But I knew that my way of seeing things had changed when I came home–to my condo neighborhood, where the sidewalks sprout litter, broken blinds sag at some windows, people talk to each other in Spanish, Korean, and Bosnian–and thought, “I like it better here.”

It has not always been that way. Once, I would have found the expanses of pruned shrubs and spotless windows more attractive. Now, I found them lovely but uninteresting.

The next day I waited in line at the post office with a baseball-capped thirty-year-old, a southern European with dark hair, two African-Americans, a tattooed Caucasian in flowered shorts, another in a tight tank top, and people with hair styles of all sorts: braided, twisted in a pony tail, done up in dreadlocks, piled on top, shaved. Again I thought: I love it! These are my people.

What has happened to me?

On one level, I’ve become a city man, in love with the diversity of America’s third largest urban area: the restaurants, the languages (half a dozen, I suppose, on my own street), the religions, the ethnic festivals, the theater.

But something else is going on. Over the last several years, I have begun embracing in new ways the reality that all of us–all of us!–are one: that, as Bob Thompson said in a recent article, “Spiritual love is the intuitive knowledge that One Life lives in all. . . . We are all sharing One Holy Life.” And that has given me a new appreciation of the world’s variety.

For years, I have worried about the hate-inducing triumphalism that proclaims one faith (or nation) right and others wrong (or inferior). I even told myself I would give my retirement to fighting that idea, symbolized so chillingly by the children’s chorus with which I grew up: “One door and only one, and yet the sides are two. I’m on the inside; on which side are you?”

But I often make connections slowly. Only in the last couple of years have I begun to grasp the fundamental truth that the only way to transcend pride and triumphalism is to understand that the core of the divine resides in our oneness. That God really does reside in every being: the holiness preacher, the beer guzzling golfer, the waiter whose English I can’t understand, the librarian whose eloquence I admire.

As that truth has begun to saturate my consciousness, I have come even to read the Bible in new ways. Everywhere, I see the proclamation of oneness.

“Where can I flee from thy presence? If I climb up to heaven, thou art there; if I make my bed in Hell, again I find thee.” (Psalms 139:7-8)

God, “the universal giver of life and breath and all else, . . . created every race of one stock.” (Acts 17:25-26)

“There is no such thing as Jew and Greek, slave and freeman, male and female; for you are all one person in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)

Then there is that radical assortment of scriptures about love. “Love your enemies.” (Matthew 5:44) “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:31) “God is love; the one who dwells in love dwells in God, and God in that one.” (I John 4:16)

Yes, I know that there is another strand of scriptures, setting sibling against sibling and promising a sword. I learned those passages well in my youth. But the longer I live, the more I am convinced that they stand on the biblical edges. Look at the core of Judaeo-Christian teaching and you find the God of connectedness, the God who is love and nothing else.

This the God of West Ridge’s crumbling brick facades and the North Shore’s stately mansions, the God of dreadlocks and stylish cuts, the God of tattoos and hajibs, the God of thunderstorms and sunrises, of drought and plenty, of followers and rebels.

And when I think that all of those are a part of me–and I a part of them–I stand in dread, in awe, and in joy. I also feel embraced. And I laugh.