I didn’t know what would happen. Initially, I wasn’t even sure why. But, I just had to ask. And, so many of you came, last Saturday, to our first retreat offered for all lovers of the Tree of Life. And, so many more let me know how much you had wanted to come but just could not on that particular day. For you, we placed your names into our sacred circle so you too could be lovingly held in our collective heart.
Then, on that day, I realized fully that, whether you have enjoyed the Tree of Life Interfaith Temple services and events, the Tree of Life School for Sacred Living’s spiritual studies programs, the Tree of Life Interfaith Seminary program or the many past yoga classes and related events, we are all woven together by a common thread – interfaith spirituality. T. S. Elliot said, We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and to know the place for the first time. For me, dear community, this is what has happened. This was why I was drawn to invite us together.
I have been largely away this past year at Andover Newton Theological School immersed in doctoral studies. I knew I would learn a lot and I certainly have. But, the most extraordinary thing I have discovered is that what we have right here, at the Tree of Life, is unique. Together, we are touching the heart of the world’s faith traditions as we immerse ourselves in their spiritual practices. When we say, Many are the Ways We Pray to One God, it is not just a nicely held belief but a visceral knowing born of our experience – an experience branded on our collective soul. We know to Whom we belong – the One to whom all religions point but could never contain. We are less likely to get hooked on names for God, beliefs about God, or stories revealing God for we seek that which is common, unifying, amongst what could be polarizing and divisive. With our collective heart, we hoist bridges from one faith tradition to another leading through and beyond the stories of religion to the One Divine Essence animating all. And, blessedly, as a result, we often find ourselves dancing, ecstatic and breathless, into the heart of the Divine Trinity – touched by the Lover, informed by the Love to become the Beloved, silent with awe.
Such blessing, grace, is not received without responsibility. We, as a community, have a contribution to make to the task of forging unity across divides. We are called to demonstrate, as living examples, just what it looks like to see our neighbor – indeed, love our neighbor, everywhere – across religious, race, gender, ethnic difference. Having found and experienced God echoing in the depths of silence across faith traditions, we carry the innate knowledge needed to authentically effect change and promote awareness in an increasingly polarized world. I have arrived home (yes, Home) and this is what I see.
And so, we will continue to gather, dance together, chant together, journey together, onto that field of wonder of which Rumi spoke as we dare to live the charge of Jesus to love one another – yes, all others. And, together, we will rise up as Arjuna to confront evil and injustice with the living sword of Truth. From our blessed community, we will gather spiritual sustenance and nourishment to hold the sweet unity that sets all of us free from the hateful bondage of evil. For it is together that we walk into our destiny – to humbly, yet courageously, offer back to the Beloved the outgrowth of the seed planted in our collective heart at birth.
Whether you are near or far, may we share the blessed fruits from our Tree of Life and, with joy everlasting, be something beautiful for God – the God looking back at us though the eyes of friend and foe, saint and sinner, rich and poor, the loved and unloved. It is our duty, our charge, but most of all…our blessing.
Until we dance again, Beloveds, until we dance again…