I am convinced that the biblical tradition is saying that the only absolute available to us is the faithful love of God, and not any concept or structure. God’s love itself is the center and the still point of the turning world.
In my own life, going deep in the Christian religion of my birth has enabled me to see the same Spirit and Love in other religions as well.
Eventually all people of faith must decide how they will think about and respond to people of other (and no) faiths. . . . I could speak from the heart of my faith, wishing others well at the heart of theirs—including those who had no name for what got them through the night.
—Barbara Brown Taylor
Talking together is important—but interfaith dialogue becomes much deeper in the context of multi-faith collaboration. Words are good, but actions are better—especially actions that bring us together solving problems that affect everybody.
Through a process of perpetual discernment and “prayer unceasing” we may dive into the well of each faith and emerge with the treasure that connects us all.
At the heart of each major religion is the vision of peace, the ideal of a reconciled humanity, the way of compassion and love and justice, the fundamental truth of nonviolence.
Present Moment, Wonderful Moment
I do not personally know of anyone more worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize than this gentle monk from Vietnam. His ideas for peace, if applied, would build a monument to ecumenism, to world brotherhood, to humanity. —Martin Luther King Jr., letter to the Nobel Committee, 1967
Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh (1926–2022) helped bring Buddhism and mindfulness to the West. His life offers an inspired example of the power of interfaith friendship. Here he gives instructions for a meditation to dwell in the present moment:
In our busy society, it is a great fortune to breathe consciously from time to time. We can practice conscious breathing not only while sitting in a meditation room, but also while working at the office or at home, while driving our car, or sitting on a bus, wherever we are, at any time throughout the day. . . .
We can recite these four lines silently as we breathe in and out:
Breathing in, I calm my body.
Breathing out, I smile.
Dwelling in the present moment,
I know this is a wonderful moment!
“Breathing in, I calm my body.” Reciting this line is like drinking a glass of cool lemonade on a hot day—you can feel the coolness permeate your body. . . .
“Breathing out, I smile.” You know a smile can relax hundreds of muscles in your
face. . . .
“Dwelling in the present moment.” While I sit here, I don’t think of anything else. I sit here, and I know exactly where I am.
“I know this is a wonderful moment.” It is a joy to sit, stable and at ease, and return to our breathing, our smiling, our true nature. Our appointment with life is in the present moment.
Thich Nhat Hanh, Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life, ed. Arnold Kotler (New York: Bantam Books, 1992), 9–10.
Explore Further. . .
- Read Thich Nhat Hanh on how “we are the earth.”
- Learn more about this year’s theme Nothing Stands Alone.
- Meet the team behind the Daily Meditations.
Image credit: Jeremy Yap, Untitled (detail), 2017, photograph, Unsplash. Dann Zepeda, Untitled (detail), 2017, photograph, Unsplash. Austin Kehmeier, Untitled (detail), 2020, photograph, Unsplash. Jenna Keiper & Leslye Colvin, 2022, triptych art, United States. Click here to enlarge image.
Image inspiration: Opening the door to difference—to include, rather than exclude—we see a beautiful beyond and receive the life water of new ways to see.
Prayer for our community:
God, Lord of all creation, lover of life and of everything, please help us to love in our very small way what You love infinitely and everywhere. We thank You that we can offer just this one prayer and that will be more than enough, because in reality every thing and every one is connected, and nothing stands alone. To pray for one part is really to pray for the whole, and so we do. Help us each day to stand for love, for healing, for the good, for the diverse unity of the Body of Christ and all creation, because we know this is what You desire: as Jesus prayed, that all may be one. We offer our prayer together with all the holy names of God, we offer our prayer together with Christ, our Lord, Amen.