Thursday, December 3, 2015

Journeys of Faith

People sometimes ask me at what age does Song and Spirit start teaching the importance of interfaith relations. Well, thanks to our participation in a wonderful program called Religious Diversity Journeys we start with school age children!

The port of entry, if you will, is where all religious traditions meet: compassionate action. Having first been exposed to faiths other than their own and given a whole lot of information to reflect on, we then ask them to put some of what they've learned into practice. My job is ordinarily to lead the children through a simple yet very important exercise of decorating brown paper lunch bags to be turned into SnackPax, which we will then fill with food and distribute to other children experiencing food insecurity. We teach about how important it is to both nourish the body and the spirit and we tell them how much it means to the kids receiving the SnackPax that other children took the time to share some beauty with them!

Once all of the bags have been decorated with colorful and diverse and, many times, extremely beautiful art work, we conclude the exercise with a very special ritual. One by one the student participants in the Religious Diversity Day come forward to place their works of art and compassion into a basket next to a candle on a simple wooden table.

As they come forward to do so, we ask each child to think about and even silently pray for the child who will be receiving what they have helped create. That's my favorite part of the whole experience and normally when it's hard to hold back the tears.

Pace e bene. Peace and all good.

Br. Al