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Interfaith

The art of Interfaith is that it calls upon us all to discover and be our truest expressions of divine creation – respecting all others as they do their best on their own path.

What helps us each reconnect to compassion, to gratitude, to a sense of purpose and being a part of something larger than ourselves? What reconnects us to a sense of abundance and joy? Only we know what’s most meaningful and helpful to us.The art of Interfaith is that it respects, honors and even celebrates the result of individuality – the rich tapestry of practices and beliefs that have shaped art, music, architecture, ecology, politics and inter-cultural relations for millennia. The art of Interfaith is that it paints for us a world where spiritual communities can coexist peacefully, never having to one-up each other. The art of Interfaith is that it calls upon us all to discover and be our truest expressions of divine creation – respecting all others as they do their best on their own path. (Excerpt from the article below.)

“The Art of Interfaith,” By Rev. Bob Pileggi
© 2007 Bob Pileggi

Joshua is three years old. He loves playing with trucks; he loves pointing to things that spin; and he especially loves counting Cherrios before eating them. But he doesn’t eat all of them – he always shares. To whomever he’s with, he offers a Cherrio. Could be me, his doting uncle. Could be his sister. Or could be a child he’s just met for the first time on the playground.

Joshua shares his love with everyone. It’s natural. This moment it’s through offering a Cherrio, the next a hug at my knees, the next moment he puts a toy train in my hand so that I can have fun, too. Joshua is, on a most fundamental level (but nonetheless eloquent), living an Interfaith experience.

There are as many ways to experience compassion as there are people in the world, and many more ways to offer it. Everyone experiences a connection to something greater than him or herself in a unique fashion. There are some commonalities, and spiritual practices have grown around them (as well as religious doctrine to try to explain them or direct people on how to replicate them). An Interfaith perspective simply respects each path.

As with visual art, some techniques stand the test of time, shaping that which follows. Matisse, Picasso, Michaelangelo – each has impacted the world; their work touches the mind, heart and spirit in a unique way. And some of us are more touched by one than another. But who can say one is better, or the “right” way to create art?

And so we celebrate them all; we honor them equally in our shrines to art, to humanity’s infinite creativity. Interfaith philosophy does the same for religious theology and practice. Some are more helpful to us as individuals than others – they touch our heart, mind, or body in a way that reconnects us to our spirit. But we can choose to appreciate the paths others use to reconnect. Monet didn’t corner the market on the only “right” way to paint flowers. Why limit the freedom of spiritual expression?

In practice, Interfaith has traditionally referred to cordial dialog between people of different faiths that grew in the 1970’s and 80’s. Now, however, Interfaith practice on a communal level might mean including teachings or practices from several wisdom traditions in a single a ritual, ceremony or worship service. Imagine chanting “Thank you for this day, Spirit, thank you for this day,” followed by silent meditation, a reading from the Tao Te Ching, and then a teaching from the Gospel of Mary Magdeline. Or perhaps a wedding between a Muslim and a Jew that includes Rumi poetry and the breaking of the glass. Nothing is watered-down; each element is respectfully offered as a way for participants reconnect with the divine.

An individual with an Interfaith practice might use Hindu yoga postures, Buddhist loving-kindness meditation, and dance – all or one on a particular day. And many also choose to have a primary spiritual practice – one that is particularly meaningful, but complemented by beliefs or practices from other traditions.

And “meaningful” is the key. What helps us each reconnect to compassion, to gratitude, to a sense of purpose and being a part of something larger than ourselves? What reconnects us to a sense of abundance and joy – enough so that we can let our Cherrios overflow to someone else? Only we know what’s most meaningful and helpful to us.

The art of Interfaith is that it respects, honors and even celebrates the result of individuality – the rich tapestry of practices and beliefs that have shaped art, music, architecture, ecology, politics and inter-cultural relations for millennia. The art of Interfaith is that it paints for us a world where spiritual communities can coexist peacefully, never having to one-up each other. Be it sharing a toy train, offering a hug, or painting a chapel ceiling, the art of Interfaith is that it calls upon us all to discover and be our truest expressions of divine creation – respecting all others as they do their best on their own path.