Posts Tagged ‘Interfaith’

Letter From New York November 27, 2014: Thanksgiving

November 27, 2014

Outside, huge clumps of snow fall at regular intervals, heavy snow slipping off the bending tree boughs; it is a winter wonderland outside, a magic kingdom of pure white, peaceful, calm and lovely.

It is Thanksgiving and I am recently returned from an Interfaith Thanksgiving Service hosted by Christ Church Episcopal. Christian, Jew and Muslim gathered together to celebrate the most American of Holidays, Thanksgiving, offering prayers of thanksgiving for this day, each from their own tradition, praising God and praying in thanks for the gifts we have and offering hope that the turmoil that roils the world will calm.

It was sparsely attended and I was glad I was there. It felt right to be giving thanks in a holy space today and the prayers from the different traditions gladdened me. A young man, Sharif Khan, represented Islam from the local mosque and offered a beautiful prayer of healing from his tradition. Mother Eileen, Rector of Christ Church, gave a stirring homily on the good religion does even while many curse religion for the men who commit gruesome crimes in its name – a fact we live with every day. She named the fear we have: that a 9/11 kind of event could happen here again, despite all our efforts.

Clever men who use the name of God to damn us do hate us and conspire to bring us evil. War rages in the lands that gave birth to Judaism, Christianity and Islam with Islam riven by the kind of discord that ripped Christianity a half a millennium ago.

I never felt persecuted because I was Catholic – in fact, I never even gave it a thought until I was in college and spoke with a friend who grew up in the south. He told me he would not have been allowed to know me because I was a “dirty Catholic.” In liberal, accommodating Minneapolis, I had not experienced that.

But it’s out there, most evidenced by the guns flaring in the Mideast and in Africa, where young girls are now hiding bombs under their hijabs and blowing themselves up in crowds in the name of God.

Perhaps one reason some parts of Islam consider us in the West decadent is that we cannot seem to rouse ourselves to suicide anymore over God. It seems that got out of our system during the Reformation. And I am thankful for that today. I am glad my college friend was my friend and that he had leapt beyond his childhood prejudices.

I am sadly grateful that the violence in Ferguson, MO was not even worse and that we did not see a repeat of 1967. But there is still so much distrust between the black and white communities and I will say a prayer of hope today that trust grows and bitterness fades.

And I will say a prayer of hope that some reason can be found to stomp out the fires of hatred from some Muslims toward the West and from some of those in the West to Muslims. May we someday find the rapprochement that Protestants and Catholics seem to have found since the last century.

As I sit and look out upon this winter wonderland, I am thankful for many things, including this moment, when all is white and pure and peaceful in my world. I am grateful that I am headed to friends to share the annual Thanksgiving feast and am grateful for the tradition we have had of spending Thanksgivings together.

There is much to be thankful for and I am allowing myself to be in a state of gratitude for all in my life – and there is so much for me to be grateful about.

May all of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving and find a centering gratitude today. If the world is dark, may a slice of light shine into your world and may you be a sliver of light to someone else.