I return to this reflective task from an extraordinary outpouring of care that included not only family solidarity but also the prayer and compassion of two faith communities – one Roman Catholic and one Presbyterian – who embraced us because of their experience of my cousin, Paul, and his wife, Janice. Celebrating Paul’s earthly existence and his entry into new life in God, I was not surprised by welcome in two Christian denominations; I presumed hospitality at such an event. There was something deeper there, however. It seemed, rather than two, we were experiencing one seamless worship service because of the respect, compassion and real love that was palpable throughout the day.
Last evening I participated in an interfaith prayer service in anticipation of today’s national elections. Although it was held in a Catholic Church, the prayer and reflections were offered equally by a Jewish rabbi (a woman) and two Christian pastors of different denominations. Again I was struck by the deep sense of common purpose of the gathered community.
I take these experiences into this monumentally important day and carry as well the words of Thomas Merton whose reflections seem fitting for this moment.
Our vocation is not simply to be, but to work together with God in the creation of our own life, our own identity, our own destiny. This means to say that we should not passively exist, but actively participate in His creative freedom, in our own lives, and in the lives of others by choosing the truth. (New Seeds of Contemplation, 32-33, excerpted)