By: Reverend Trish Hall, Centers for Spiritual Living Metro
It serves no purpose to deny what is happening globally and locally. Unless we acknowledge that there is a problem, we are powerless to make changes. How do we walk the tightrope of being fully engaged, committed to transforming the problem, yet not lose ourselves in the problem so that we become a force of separation? The passion that ignites our desire to manifest a world that works for everyone, can all too easily become divisive rather than unifying. Spirit stirs us to recognize that which needs to change, to seek solutions, to be impassioned to cause change, and to do so in ways that unite rather than separate us.
We receive conflicting messages: we must “feel it to heal it,” yet warned, “That which you focus upon expands in your experience.” Recognizing what needs to be changed demands that we look objectively at ourselves and circumstances. Simultaneously, we must feel it and sense it deeply, in order to muster the energy to be a cause for change yet not get so consumed by it that we lose perspective and become ineffective. We must place our focus on healing – to call forth the Divine Truth that shifts human experience at the level of cause. Divine Truth does not deny circumstances. It provides the means to effect lasting change of circumstances. It diminishes the human propensity to get distracted and waste energy on behaviors that widen rifts and entrench the sense of separation. It calls us to be healers – unifiers that dissolve the sense of separation.
So what is “healing”? The simple answer is to make whole. We must reunite our divided nature, releasing our fixation on what is wrong with the world and opening to pure potentiality – to accepting responsibility for doing our part to heal ourselves and the world. Sometimes in the midst of chaos, it is hard to see “Truth beyond appearances.” Sometimes, it is hard to remember when surrounded by alligators, that we are there to drain the swamp – to remember it is the Truth that sets us free from the alligators.
Ernest Holmes declared, “We have within us, a power that is greater than anything we shall ever contact in the outer, a power that can overcome every obstacle in our life and set us safe, satisfied and at peace, healed and prosperous, in a new light, and in a new life.” Simply because we have it is no assurance that we use it for good purpose – that is a matter of choice. How then do we choose to be? Do we use this power peacefully, as compassion, healing of strife and global chaos or do we remain imprisoned by beliefs that global peace is not possible because it has not yet been experienced? Do we take responsibility for our past mistakes, learn from them, and redirect our thoughts and actions? Do we uproot our misplaced faith in the inevitability of that which is not desired, or do we embrace the power within and be catalysts for change – catalysts for peace?
It is time to subdue all inner conflict by giving no further attention to the many distractions – the side issues that divert us from the fulfillment of our goal. We achieve this by engaging all our thoughts and feelings in constructive, creative, and productive consciousness – by being peace.
Please consider joining us or the annual World Healing Meditation that commences precisely at 12:00 AM GMT (7:00 AM Eastern) on December 31st. You can do this individually, or in-person groups or join the Heart of Peace Initiative which provides an hour of inspiration including affirmations, meditation and readings focused on the realization of global peace, healing all aspects of the world, revealing peace at: facebook.com/events/716551799681145
Nelson Mandela: “Peace is not just the absence of conflict; peace is the creation of an environment where all can flourish regardless of race, color, creed, religion, gender, class, caste or any other social markers of difference.”
Deep within their beings, John Randolph Price and his wife, Jan, understood true Peace. They envisioned millions of people around the planet joining together in a “global mind-link” to heal the world and reveal peace, so they launched the World Healing Day, December 31, 1986. Their concept was clear – a moment in time in which the consciousness of millions would be linked in a single focus: A worldwide, congruent embodiment of healing and harmonizing Planet Earth. The power of such clarity in any moment is unstoppable. Recognizing the challenge of sustainability, they established it as an annual event strategically placed right before the start of each year. This year is the 37th annual gathering. It has grown consistently. Most people, once they have participated, feel the call to do it again and again.
The Heart of Peace Initiative of Centers for Spiritual Living Global Services took up the challenge to engage a mind-link, as the Prices had envisioned, to transmute moments of Peace into continuities. The Initiative’s vision sees millions of people diving into the consciousness of peace, healing, and harmony at random times as well as specific events, spontaneously reconnecting with the mind-link. The Prices believed, and we agree, that the sense of connection is a powerful factor in peace building.
There is a traditional African concept of humaneness, for caring, sharing and being in harmony with all of creation. In In Zulu or Xhosa, the term is “ubuntu.” A friend told me, “The concept is easy: I am because we are.” Peace arises when we connect with and care for one another. Whether we call it Amani (Swahili) or Ukuthula (Zulu) or Peace, we are intuitively drawn to it.
Alas, we humans tend to get distracted by the swirl of worldly circumstances. Often distractions trigger attitudes that are the antithesis of harmony. Yet, that innate desire within to connect stirs ever growing numbers of hearts to heal and allow peace to prevail. The undulating, rippling effect of this desire is contagious and lifts the consciousness within everyone, everywhere whether they are conscious of what is happening or not.
When we look around, the world – even our individual thoughts – seem rife with examples of discord, violence, and disasters. It can be overwhelming. The voice of doubt may raise its head, questioning, “What difference can I possibly make.” The answer is, “You make a world of difference! Every act of love, of kindness, of compassion ripples out touching and transforming others who consciously or otherwise do the same.” Just imagine the result if each one of us raised these simple acts to the level of commitment and took responsibility for the influence we have on others.
One of the things you can do is participate in the annual World Healing Meditation that commences precisely at 12:00 AM GMT (7:00 AM Eastern) on December 31st. You can do this individually, or in-person groups or join the Heart of Peace Initiative which provides an hour of inspiration including affirmations, meditation and readings focused on the realization of global peace, healing all aspects of the world, revealing peace at: facebook.com/events/716551799681145
This blog post is the expressed opinion of its writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Tysons Interfaith or its members.
Those of us brought up in the Christian tradition (indeed probably most people) have heard the Christmas Story as told by the Gospel of Luke 1: 1-7:
In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
This Advent season (in the Christian tradition, the four weeks of preparation leading up to Christmas) I have kept hearing the theme, “making room.”
In the Scripture readings on December 18, we heard from the Gospel of Matthew the story of Joseph a “righteous man” who, when faced with the life shattering news that Mary his betrothed was with child, resolved to dismiss her quietly so that she would not be exposed to public disgrace, which would have been well within his right in the customs of day. Instead, “….just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’” (Matthew 1: 19-21). Pastor Josh Wullenweber of Redeemer Lutheran, preaching on this text noted that Joseph made room in his life for faith – and acted on that faith by taking the huge step of remaining faithful to Mary and to the special child she carried. Full text here.
In an earlier Advent sermon, Pastor Josh also commented on the importance of making room in our daily lives for prayer and meditation:
Now it’s hard to explain, but there is something so powerful about letting ourselves just rest in the light of Christ. Our outward and inward features do not change – but when we stop and let all that Christ is pour over us – something most certainly changes. Our hearts, our attitudes, our demeanor are made new – they are restored. Full text here.
Finally, on December 20 on the d365 APP I use for daily reflection, commentator Amy Kim Kyremes-Parks had this to say:
“Because we’ve been given such abundant grace, there is plenty to share. Maybe you can encounter others this week with even an ounce of the kind of deep love God has for them. It could be a total stranger, someone you see all the time, or someone you would rather not encounter. You don’t need to talk … just make space for God’s love to give you a new perspective.”
As we Christians finish our Christmas preparations and anticipate with joy the coming of the Christ child, my wish for each of us, regardless of our faith tradition, or even for those still exploring a relationship with God, is that we try making space in our lives for God’s gracious, restorative, and loving presence.
This blog post is the expressed opinion of its writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Tysons Interfaith or its members.
On Sunday, December 18 at sundown, Jews all over the world will begin the celebration of the eight-day festival of Chanukah with the lighting of the first candle on the menorah.
What is very important to remember in a time of watching the rise of antisemitism all over the world, with a 34% increase in incidents in the United States in 2021 over 2020 (last full year), is that this holiday celebrates the victory of religious freedom.
The holiday comes from the Book of Maccabees which did not make it to the Jewish Bible (Tanakh). The Book of Maccabees is one of the 14 books in the Apocrypha, from the Greek word meaning “hidden”. The Maccabean Revolt
( Hebrew: מרד החשמונאים) was a Jewish rebellion led by the Maccabees against the Seleucid Empire and against Hellenistic influence on Jewish life. The beginning of this fight began in 167 BCE.
To celebrate the victory, the Jews went to rededicate the temple in Jerusalem which had been taken over by the Seleucids and defiled. The anniversary of this rededication is how the date for the Chanukah celebration was determined. Chanukah is always on the 25th of the Hebrew month of Kislev, which is on a different calendar system than the one we use. This means that the actual date for the beginning of Chanukah on the Gregorian calendar changes every year and can begin as early as November 28th, or as late as December 25th, which will happen in 2024.
Another name for Chanukah is the Festival of Lights. The story is that when the temple was finally cleansed, they found only enough oil to last one night, but by a miracle, it lasted for eight, and that is the reason for eight days of Chanukah. The lighting of the menorah in public goes back to the beginning of the holiday itself. The sages instructed that the menorah be lit at the entrance to one’s home to publicize the miracle.
Let this festival of light shine light on religious freedom not just at this time of year, but at all times for all people.
This blog post is the expressed opinion of its writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Tysons Interfaith or its members.
The Jewish High Holidays are about to begin, starting at sundown on Sunday, September 25th. This first holiday is Rosh Hashanah (head of the year), the Jewish new year. You might assume that since this is the new year on the Hebrew calendar it is the fist day of the first month, but in fact it is the first day of the Hebrew month of Tishrei which is the 7th month. Why is this and how did it come to be?
The commandment to observe Rosh Hashanah is first found in the Torah, Hebrew Scripture, in the Book of Leviticus, 23:24-5. There it states:
In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, there shall be a rest day for you, a remembrance proclaimed with the blast of horns, a holy convocation. You shall not do any labor and you shall offer a fire-offering to the Eternal.
The nature of the day was established in the Torah, but the name Rosh Hashanah was not used until later, perhaps out of fear that a major Jewish festival around the Autumn new moon would be associated with the many pagan moon festivals that were common at the time. But by the time of the return from the Babylonian exile in the fourth century B.C.E., the observance of Rosh Hashanah as a new year festival was well established. In the Mishna, the first major written collection of Jewish oral traditions, Rosh Hashanah had taken on the meanings that we know today.
There are many traditions in observance of this holiday. The sounding of the shofar comes from the quote from Leviticus above. Apples dipped in honey are eaten to symbolize a sweet new year. The traditional challah (braided bread) eaten on the sabbath is round. Some see the round shape as a reflection of the continuing cycle of years and seasons. Another interpretation is that the round challah resembles a crown, symbolizing the sovereignty of God. A third explanation, is that it is a way to distinguish the already sacred challah we have on the Sabbath as something even more special and distinctive for the New Year. Finally, at a time of year when our thoughts turn to repentance and resolutions of self-improvement, the round challah reminds us that the opportunity for t’shuvah (repentance) is never-ending.
Ten days after Rosh Hashanah comes the most sacred day on the Hebrew calendar, Yom Kippur. On this day, a 25-hour complete fast is observed as Jews around the world attend synagogue services. Throughout the day, prayers are recited asking for forgiveness. The period from Rosh Hashanah through Yom Kippur is called Yamim Noraim or, ten Days of Awe, where we consider our repentance each day in preparation for our prayers.
Over 40 years ago the United National General Assembly established the International Day of Peace. In 2001 they unanimously clarified the day as being dedicated to strengthening the ideals of peace among all nations and peoples of the earth. This year’s Day of Peace theme is End Racism. Build Peace
With all the serious challenges to peace around the world, and right here in the US, Tysons Interfaith will highlight the 2022 International Day of Peace (September 21, 2022) with a continuation of our Oneness of Humanity series.
The Oneness of Humanity series began in the summer of 2020, when Tysons Interfaith hosted an on-line discussion about the concept of the “Oneness of Humanity,” and what it means from different faith traditions. In the ensuing months, we also explored “Since we are one, how do we deal with race?” and “Do you feel a call to take action (to build an equitable society)?” The series has continued since 2020, exploring topics of common interest to people of all faith traditions and spiritual practices.
The title of our September 21, 2002 Oneness event is: Building Peaceful Communities, Promoting Mutual Respect: A Call to Action. The event will be held on Zoom from 7:00 – 8:30 pm, and will be facilitated by Dara Feldman, an educator, international speaker, author and founder of Virtues Matter. We will explore learning language and practical skills to promote peace, and how to recognize virtues in others to build/repair relationships and foster mutual respect. We hope you will join us!
To register and learn more about this event, please visit tysonsinterfaith.org/iwe-event/building-peaceful-communities/.
Over 40 years ago the United National General Assembly established the International Day of Peace. In 2001 they unanimously clarified the day as being dedicated to strengthening the ideals of peace among all nations and peoples of the earth. The theme for this year’s Day of Peace is End Racism. Build Peace.
For the 2016 United Nations International Day of Peace, Centers for Spiritual Living formally recognized the Collective Meditation for Peace Initiative as an integral and essential element of our organization. Its driving purpose is to raise the consciousness of peace around the world.
So, what are we doing about it?
The Collective Meditation for Peace Initiative coordinates the weekly Heart of Peace Meditations on Facebook every Monday afternoon at 1:00 PM MT. Team members are “vision led” to provide an array of meditation experiences throughout the year.
The Heart of Peace team invites everyone to take a deep dive into their spiritual practices, committing to daily peace prayers in total confidence that we do have the power to change the world using affirmative prayer – Peace shall prevail! The team is fostering the emergence of a world in which compassion and empathy overcome suspicion and hatred. A world that we can truly be proud of.
Our next event “One World, One Lover, One Peace” is on United Nations International Day of Peace, September 21st the 2022 on Facebook.
To achieve enduring Peace we collaborate, connect and take actions collectively. The Heart of Peace team is always seeking ways in which it can engage people … to attract spiritual activists with a passion for peace. We began by becoming clear observers, honest evaluators and dedicated doers. We have discerned the components of peace and identified actions that synergistically bring about experiences of peace. In collaboration with other organizations, we produce events and promote those of other peace organizations and our communities such as the Global Chain Reaction for Peace created by the Center for Spiritual Living Geneva [Switzerland]. This past year we have featured the World Healing Peace Meditation, provided a Pause for Peace at the Centers for Spiritual Living 2022 Convention, produced a daily meditation guide posted on Facebook every day of the Season of Peace and Nonviolence, hosted World Labyrinth Day and the United Nations International Day of Peace.
Individually and collectively the Heart of Peace team members remain keenly alert to ways in which to remove obstacles to the free flow of peace around the world. Acknowledging that a lack of information and education about other cultures and traditions, has been one of the primary forces obstructing universal peace, team members have engaged with other organizations to break such barriers.
And, there are more ways in which Centers for Spiritual Living is bringing forth world peace …
Global Services Committee, in fulfillment of our Global Vision of “… a world in which we live and grow as One Global Family that respects and honors the interconnectedness of all life; a world where this kinship with all life prospers and connects through the guidance of spiritual wisdom and experience” works diligently worldwide connecting and nurturing global relationships. These connections make it possible for people to learn about other cultures and make personal connections – essential components of world peace.
Our Diversity Equity Inclusion Committee is dedicated to working toward a world that embraces and celebrates diversity and eliminates all expressions of prejudice in alignment with the United Nations 2022 theme of “End Racism. Build Peace.”
We envision a world that works for everyone and for all creation and are committed to doing our part to make peace magnificently ordinary rather than something exceptional to be achieved.
(Coming next: International Day of Peace, September 21, 2022 – What Tysons Interfaith is Doing to Support It)
United Nations International Day of Peace 2022 Theme: “End Racism. Build Peace.”
Look for Peace Day activities in your own community and around the world: *Minute of silence at 12 noon (all time zones) *Peace education events *Intercultural and interfaith dialogues *Workshops on the UN Peace Day theme *Meditation and prayer *Planting peace poles *Community gatherings *Vigils *Concerts and festivals
Over 40 years ago the United National General Assembly established the International Day of Peace. In 2001 they unanimously clarified the day as being dedicated to strengthening the ideals of peace among all nations and peoples of the earth. This year’s Day of Peace theme is End Racism. Build Peace.
It is a common practice in the US is to declare days in recognition of this or that. For years I have found that confusing when it comes to something like peace. The declaration of twenty-four hours dedicated to something such as cease-fire and non-violence, begs the question: Is it then okay to be horrid and hateful during the other 8,736 hours in a year? I know we must start somewhere, and one day is better than no days. I feel we need to be clear about our intention: we want more! We are called to do everything within our power to bring about its fulfillment. We need to be firm and not accept anything less than its fulfillment lest we give in and tolerate something less than real peace. We must be willing to go full out for all peoples – all creation – to experience the components of peace.
This year, the United Nations is acknowledging that achieving true peace entails much more than laying down arms. It requires the building of societies where all members regardless of race can flourish.
It has long been a stand within Centers for Spiritual Living that we are called to create a world that works for all. This involves creating a world in which there is equity, in which all people are treated equally, regardless of their race, gender, orientation, age, ability or other unique attributes. We envision all people, all beings, and all life as expressions of God.
Our Global Vision doesn’t just suggest that we should be nice to one another. It clearly states that we envision “A World That Works for Everyone”- a world of peace and harmony, enfranchisement and justice – and that this is our work to do. It doesn’t suggest that mediocre is okay. It calls us to commit to it and lean into its fulfillment!
As Secretary-General António Guterres has said: “Racism continues to poison institutions, social structures, and everyday life in every society. It continues to be a driver of persistent inequality. And it continues to deny people their fundamental human rights. It destabilizes societies, undermines democracies, erodes the legitimacy of governments …” In the presence of such forces, collective peace is not experienced.
We each have a role to play in fostering peace. Tackling racism and other demonstrations of prejudice are crucial and require our collective action.
In furtherance of the United Nations dedication to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples, the Secretary went on to say, “We are called to dismantle the structures that entrench racism in our midst. We can support movements for equality and human rights everywhere. We can speak out against hate speech – both offline and online. We can promote anti-racism through education and reparatory justice.”
Stay tuned as we explore local efforts to promote anti-racism and sustainable peace in our homes and communities.
Peace is more than freedom from disturbance or the absence of war. It is a commitment to assuring the well-being of all.
Peace is more than a state of tranquility. Tranquility is a feeling – a sense of calm and quiet that is by its nature transient, ephemeral. It may be experienced in meditation or sitting under a starry sky, listening to the crickets. The aura of tranquility is often associated with a calm environment, a temporary (perhaps fleeting) sense that you don’t have a care in the world.
Though the critical components of peace do include affects such as the absence of war and freedom from disturbances, they are so much more. They include mutual respect, shared values, a commitment to put peace ahead of prejudice and rivalries. True peace will only arise when these components are recognized and the underlying obstacles to peace are addressed and resolved.
Sustainable peace is not passive. It is the work of a lifetime – the conscious commitment to assure that the components of peace are conscientiously strengthened and preserved. Fears and insecurities can cause otherwise stable individuals to waiver. Even a well-developed sense of self can be challenged by the numerous forms of inequity that are presently evident. Those inequities must be eliminated. Diligent reassurances of progress are critical to establishing lasting peace.
For peace to be sustainable it must be based on mutual respect – the recognition of the divinity of all creation demonstrated in all relationships. It goes beyond surface level interactions to supporting one another in developing human dignity – soul-level self-respect rather than ego-based pride. Such dignity is the right of every person to be valued and respected for their own sake, to be treated ethically and to experience equity in all areas of life. This is an inherent, inalienable right. This is a keystone component of enduring peace.
Open communication is essential so that common ground and shared values can be identified and used as the foundation on which to build trust. Fully embracing “oneness,” and accepting the responsibilities that come with that embrace, make sustainable peace possible.
Stay tuned for coming blog posts as we explore the United Nations International Day of Peace and actions local faith communities are taking to empower people to build sustainable peace in their homes and communities.
Before I accepted Islam, I worked at a bank. A fellow teller disturbed me with his vehement views about Islam. He made a mistake during a transaction, but he was angry at his customer. He charged into my workspace, explained to me his error and growled, “I hope she’s Muslim.” I asked, “Why?” Then he, a non-Muslim, erroneously asserted, “There is no forgiveness in Islam.”
My heart sank. His heart, a lump of coal, ignited by ire blazed due to his inner turmoil. “Have you read the Qur’an?” I wondered. Allah is Most-Forgiving, Most-Merciful.
Accepting Islam involved letting go of misconceptions. The truth is my former co-worker feared the repercussions of his actions. Then he mercilessly unleashed his cruelty upon an innocent woman. He was an enemy of Islam.
The world is not so neatly divided into friends and enemies. Everyone harbors prejudice. As I embraced Islam, I began to wear hijab at the bank. Who knows what my former co-worker thought of me?
The journey into Islam is beautiful. I renew my vows from time to time as if a marriage. More than ever, I feel forgiven. What was so elusive to me before is palpable in this faith.
“Say, (O Muhammad, to mankind): If ye love Allah, follow me; Allah will love you and forgive you your sins. Allah is Forgiving, Merciful” (Qur’an 3:31).
It is believed when you take your Shahadah and enter into Islam, all your past sins are forgiven and you begin with a clean slate. Muslims repeat their Shahadah during prayer multiple times a day.
“That Allah may forgive you your sins of the past and the future, and complete His Favour on you, and guide you on the Straight Path…” (Qur’an 48:2)
Reading the Qur’an brings peace if that is what you’re searching for. Forgiveness comes in waves. Don’t go against the current. Rest on the shores of mercy.
My former co-worker was not punished for his mistake. He was recognized as a human in need of forgiveness. I wish he would extend the same courtesy to others, but truly he was not wronged. He himself erred. The lesson is that sometimes the most difficult person to forgive is yourself.
Have you ever said, “I’ll never forgive myself, if…”? Don’t fall into that trap! Forgive yourself. Be compassionate. Once you forgive yourself and stop blaming others, a world of positive emotions open up. Fill your heart with awe and love, hope and gratitude. You are who you are and that alone is a blessing. Believe that you can handle whatever comes your way with a little guidance and a lot of faith.
This blog post is the expressed opinion of its writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Tysons Interfaith or its members