A Rabbi, A Sheikh, and A Pastor…

…waited for the room to fill.  They had a story to tell.

Don Mackenzie, Jamal Rahman, and Ted Falcon were leading a break-out session at the 2010 Spiritual Directors International Conference in Atlanta based on their book, Getting to the Heart of Interfaith: The Eye-Opening, Hope-Filled Friendship of a Pastor, a Rabbi & a SheikhThese three men came together in their community after 9/11.  First they got to know each other;  then they  included others in their interfaith discussions.

I could have listened to them all day.  Their well-practiced “act” was informative and funny.  They laughed at each others’ jokes and listened carefully to each other as they taught. The speakers described their faiths, emphasizing how each incorporates compassion (the theme of the conference).

The Book of Mormon Girl  filled my morning reading time last week.  Joanna Brooks, the author, is a Mormon mom who supports a woman’s right to choose and gay marriage, not the usual Mormon positions.  Her book describes her childhood as a Mormon in Southern California and the evolution of her faith as she matured.

Julie Peeples, my pastor, suggested  Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life by Karen Armstrong.  These Twelve Steps include:  (3) Compassion for Yourself, (4) Empathy, (5) Mindfulness, (8) How Should We Speak to One Another?, (11) Recognition, (12) Love Your Enemies.  Armstrong never says the Steps are easy, just necessary.

I watched the Republican convention and the Democratic convention is on as I write.  I know who I will vote for in November and why.  As a lifelong learner, I enjoy listening to and reading about others’ values and beliefs, even when I strongly disagree.

We are all children of God doing the best we can.  We may worship differently (or not at all).  We may take different stands on issues.  We must all live together on this planet and in this nation.

Everyone has a story to tell.  Listening leads us to our commonalities rather than the contentious issues.

Please, listen to each other, respect each other, get to know each other.  We can and should let go of the anger.

Children are watching and listening.

Published in: on September 5, 2012 at 9:38 pm  Comments (6)  
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Where I Come From

I began in Iowa, land of flat cornfields

and people I love,

of honesty, integrity, loyalty, and peace.

The willow tree was in Iowa,

at Aunt Nadine and Uncle Phil’s.

I loved it, I climbed it and sat there by myself.

No one seemed to wonder where I was.

Did no one think to worry?

Or was I never really noticed at all?

Emily calls us “The Frozen People.”

I learned in my 30’s how to hug.

I’m flustered and shaken

when a friend says “I love you.”

I can never say “I love you” back,

even when I do.

I come from a family who likes to drink.

I was into my 20’s, already a mom

 when I named it alcoholism.

In later years it damaged Dad’s brain,

leading to strokes and a blessed death.

It destroyed my mother’s spirit

and left her an empty shell.

I swore I’d never be like either one.

I’m not, of course, but I came close.

So, I come from Iowa.

I value honesty and compassion.

My spirit’s thawed somewhat.

I will reach out and hug.

I laugh a lot.  It’s that or cry.

I’m probably a smartass,

but my friends don’t seem to mind.

Now I am where my kids are from.

“Don’t lie, don’t cheat and don’t be afraid.”

I talk about no expectations

and I share my trust of God.

Everyone has a story, I say,

and you can’t tell by looking what it is.

I pray for them and I love them.

That’s all there really is to do.

A day at a time, I co-create my lifetime.

God and I are on an adventure,

together we make a pilgrimage.

It starts out where I’m from

and ends up in infinity.

Amen.