“The radiance that is neither East nor West comes from a single moon” Rumi
Dear Universal Heart Networkers
These newsletters are intended to be all about “you”! But this time I want to ask you to celebrate with me two anniversaries and one event. This month it is ten years since my ordination at St John the Divine in New York. What a memorable occasion it was, preceded by a moving retreat and, immediately before that, a more personal retreat with some of my seminary classmates in upstate New York. I have reflected on the changes that ceremony brought and accelerated in Seeking the Sacred but it was certainly a sacramental day that has continued to reverberate in my life, challenging as well as supporting me. You will have some special days in your life, too. Please don’t rush by them. Honour them with fresh thought and deep thanksgiving, even and perhaps especially when the blessings seem to have been mixed.
The second anniversary is of our NINE years of spiritually inclusive services at Pitt Street Uniting in Sydney. This has been a very big story also, sitting alongside the spiritual teaching I had been doing for many years earlier and especially, since 2001, at glorious Mana Retreat Centre. And all of that, I feel sure, has come about because of the years of writing, especially my key books which have so profoundly shaped my thinking and life.
We will celebrate the years of services at Pitt Street (Pitt Street Uniting Church, 264 Pitt Street, Sydney) this coming Sunday, 21 June at 3pm. As we enter the tenth year, it seems certain that there will be changes ahead but this is surely a moment to pause and to count the many blessings of this achievement, made possible only because so many seekers of all ages and backgrounds responded to the call to participate in a sacred service that is unconditionally inclusive. This is a very significant growth in interfaith practice and experience and I am immeasurably grateful to all who have supported it. What it means in our case is that there’s not one religious group “including” others at our services, however respectfully. Instead, we all belong. Labels can be left at the door. With a genuine acceptance of differences, and with interest, integrity and respect, we are able to come together to bring an experience of the sacred right into the heart of our lives.
As far as I know, we are the only substantial community meeting in this way in Australia, and one of the very few in the world that has been able to keep going beyond the enthusiasm of a small number and/or very few years. (There are of course the beautiful services in Auckland ,NZ, led by Hilary Star.) It’s no secret that without institutional support of a mainstream religion it is extremely difficult to keep up the momentum of services, even monthly. Many who come to our services have asked why we can’t have them more often but we have to rely on voluntary work that goes on constantly behind the scenes, even for monthly gatherings. It has had to be a grand commitment of heart to keep our services as fresh and spiritually alive and healing as they are.
If Sydney is at all accessible for you, do please make whatever effort you can to join us this Sunday. Our readings, teachings and music will be as exquisite as they always are. Blissful, in fact! As we head into the tenth year of services though, I am aware that we are completing a cycle. None of us can take for granted that our services – or any aspect of life – will continue indefinitely so please, don’t take these precious opportunities of services or retreats for granted. This would apply to any source of spiritual strength in your life. Spiritual inclusion is vital to lasting peace-making, in our hearts as well as in our world. I have put some quotations below to prompt you to think more about interfaith not as a wonderful personal experience only, but also as something that can make the most significant contribution to the peace and compassion that our world desperately needs.
I am also putting a link below to a couple of articles from my website, one about interfaith and also the October Retreat. A gorgeous pdf is available for you on that. And don’t forget that you can receive almost-daily inspirations from my Facebook page whether or not social media is part of your life. In fact, you will also get information there about issues of concern, and you can use that page also to add your thoughts and ever-deepen this community of peacemakers.
Blessings of love. Peace in our hearts and in our world.
“Only dialogue and co-operation between the great religions will save our world from destruction.”
William Johnston, writer and Jesuit priest
“The religions should be making a major contribution to what must be the chief task of our day: to build a global community where all peoples can live together in mutual respect and where the powerful do not treat other nations as they would not wish to be treated themselves. If we do not achieve this, it is unlikely that we will have a viable world to hand on to the next generation. Any ideology – religious or secular – that breeds hatred and disdain for others is failing the test of our time.” Karen Armstrong, writer, religious historian and former nun
“There will be no peace among the nations without peace among the religions and no peace among the religions without dialogue.”
Father Hans Kung, religious historian
“…in place of the Old Bottom Line of money and power, a New Bottom Line of Love and Generosity is possible. People of all faiths need to shape a political and social movement that reaffirms the most generous, peace-oriented, social justice-committed, and loving truths of the spiritual heritage of the human race.”
Rabbi Michael Lerner
Link to What is INTERFAITH?
Link to FINDING PEACE Retreat – click on image below.
Link for RETREAT INFORMATION