My formation process for and ministry in Third Order Franciscan (TSSF) enhanced my interest in completive living. In TSSF, I learned that I was not required to give equal time to prayer, study and work yet was to seek a full and balanced expression to each of them. I believe this influenced me to apply to the Living School (LS). My experiences in the LS enhanced balance of prayer, study and work, as well as enriched my time in prayer and ways to pray—with and without words. LS expanded my understanding of contemplation and action.
I treasured the amount of scripture Father Richard used in his writing and talks, and how he used Ken Wilber’s teachings (especially transcend and include); was delighted that Cynthia inspired me to learn Law of Three, and to chant the Psalms and Quaker Plainsong in my daily office; and savored Jim Finley’s stories about his journey with Thomas Merton, and the relationships between Merton’s pilgrimage and the Middle Way. Each LS faculty has inspired me to expand my daily contemplative practice and honor the connection of this to my actions—my service to self, others and all creation. I learned much about “everything belongs” and reverence for all life.
My LS praxis is done with Bishop William Swing and his United Religions Initiative (URI), a global grassroots interfaith network that cultivates peace and justice by engaging people to bridge religious and cultural differences and work together for the good of their communities and the world. The purpose of the United Religions Initiative is to promote enduring, daily interfaith cooperation, to end religiously motivated violence and to create cultures of peace, justice and healing for the Earth and all living beings. Visit uri.org to learn the basics about URI Cooperation Circles that are in 95 countries. Since the LS “sending” in August 2016, I organized a Nashville URI Cooperation Circle.
The Nashville Cooperation Circle (NCC) members come from: Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Sufi, Christian, Judaism and Yoga. Our governance or decision-making process is: Appreciative Inquiry which enhances self-directed work. We host an Annual Interfaith Arts event, Indoor Outdoor Neighborhood exhibits (music, mandalas, mosaics, murals) and Peacemaking events.
In honor of the 20th Anniversary of Celebration of Cultures, an interfaith worship service was held in Nashville in September 2016. The theme was “May Peace Prevail on Earth.” Representatives of seven different faiths shared readings from their sacred texts or music that speak to peace in communities and the world. People came together to pray for peace as members of the world’s religions.
A key NCC service project in 2017 is the promotion of the worldwide release of The World Wisdom Bible, March 23 – 25, 2017, Nashville, TN. Visit urinorthamerica.org to learn about this event. Mirabai Starr believes The World Wisdom Bible is a unique anthology of teachings drawn from humanity’s greatest saints, sages, and mystics, exploring the essential themes of spirituality.