Thursday, March 23, 2017
An Appointment with God: Thursday's Reflection
Recently, a friend returned a book he had borrowed from me,
Encountering God, A Spiritual Journey from Bozeman to Banaras by Diane Eck. I had forgotten he had borrowed it, but I was grateful to be re-introduced to it.
On the inside of the front cover I found some notes I had written when I heard Eck speak at Chautauqua in 2004. She said, " A multi-religious world is the only world we have," and "The time of not getting to know each other is over."
How moved I was recently when I was at Lutheran Social Service's Center for Changing Lives to see a prayer room in the building. When our guide offered to show it to us, I imagined seeing a lovely chapel with a stained glass window and maybe a small altar and a church pew where I could sit and pray. How quickly my mind goes to what I know.
Instead, this was a small room equipped with a tub-like area where a person of the Islamic faith could sit easily and wash before prayer. Muslims pray five times a day and before each of those prayer times they wash their face, hands, arms, and feet. Prayer is one of the Five Pillars of Islam and this washing ritual, called Wudu, is preparation for an appointment with God.
On one of the walls was a niche or mihrab which indicates the direction of Mecca. The room was large enough to open a prayer mat on the floor and for an individual to perform the proscribed series of movements, standing, bowing, kneeling on the ground, touching the ground with one's forehead and sitting. A holy place.
I have been in a mosque, but that was a long time ago and not in the United States. I was so moved to see this prayer room where Muslims could pray in a building owned by Lutherans.
In the inside cover of Eck's book I had written some definitions.
An exclusivist believes there is only one faith, one true God.
An inclusivist recognizes the "fullness" of God which includes the "other, somewhat less adequate conception."
A pluralist acknowledges there is only one God who transcends complete comprehension. A pluralist engages with diversity--not just to be tolerant, but pursues active understanding. This is the language of dialogue.
I don't know how you would define yourself--exclusivist, inclusivity, or pluralist--or if those terms have any meaning for you, but I firmly believe this is a time when we must get to know each other. And a major part of that is getting to know each other's God.
Now when I sit in prayer in the morning I imagine someone entering that solitary space in the Lutheran Social Services building to pray. I think about them praying to the very same God who receives my prayers. We are all embraced by God. I pray we remember that and live that prayer.
What are you doing to expand your view of God? I would love to know.