Posted by: smstrouse | March 11, 2011

Interfaith Schmoozing

I was privileged to be invited to go on a short retreat last week with about 30 interfaith leaders from the western US.  This was the second such gathering since the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Melbourne, Australia in 2009. Some of the folks from CA, AZ, NV, etc. who were at the Parliament thought that it would be a good idea to continue getting to know one another and see what might develop on a regional basis.

I wasn’t at the Parliament (hoping for next time!), but the circle has now expanded to include many of the local interfaith councils and organizations. The best part of the day and a half spent at the beautiful San Damiano Center in Danville, CA was the schmoozing. And oddly enough, what I enjoyed most of all were the conversations over meals, at happy hour, and on walks – with colleagues from right here in the Bay Area!  Seems that we have to get away from the busyness of the daily grind to find quality time with one another.  So for that opportunity alone, I am grateful.

The other topic (among many), that we discussed as a group was planning for the 10th anniversary of 9/11.  The San Francisco Interfaith Council reported that it’s already putting together a commemoration along with the SF Opera. Plans are also underway to bring together people from churches, synagogues, mosques, and other holy places for education, dialogue, pulpit exchanges, etc. I remember so well the discussion groups that sprang up in Buffalo, NY after 9/11/01.  It is unfortunate that it took such a tragedy to bring us together. And unfortunate that so much more work needs to be done. But I’m thankful for those who are leading us in the work.

So the schmoozing had a serious side to it for sure. But all-in-all, this is  fine bunch of folks to hang out with.  What a privilege to be part of it.

*** About the image:  The image of the linked rings is the logo of the Interfaith Center at the Presidio, designed by long-time Board member Don Frew. The rings appear tightly linked together, but if you look closely, you will notice that if the white ring were removed, the entire assemblage would fall apart into separate rings. No two rings are interlocked; it is only the central ring that brings them into a unified whole. This is an apt image for the Interfaith Center. Each of the participating religious groups and traditions maintains its individual identity and independence. It is the shared cooperative work that binds the member into a whole.

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