It is Friday February 4 in the afternoon here in the village of Tepoztlan in the state of Morelos in Mexico. The three Multi region Trustees—Yoland, Linda and Don—have each departed by plane for their homes in the United States. It is cloudy and quiet now. Soon the Jewish Sabbath will begin. The Muslim Sufis in their Mexico City mosque will pray tonight. The Christian communities will attend Mass Sunday in the many churches throughout this predominantly Catholic country. The 13th century Tlahuican pyramid visible from my bedroom balcony sits atop the mountain, a silent reminder of the indigenous past ever present in this ancient land.
Nothing has changed in the village because of the URI regional leadership team meeting here this week. Yet what we did together, the six of us, reflected one intention of the United Nations’ World Interfaith Harmony Week: to demonstrate that harmony can exist within the diversity of beliefs and cultures of the human family. We are the world. There is no Other to fear or fight. I am you. U. R. I.
When four of us each morning before breakfast met in silence in a humble tea house to sit on the floor on tatami mats to meditate, there were both women and men; we spoke both English ands Spanish; our backgrounds included Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Zen Buddhist, Wiccan, Atheist and Indigenous spiritual traditions. We fed and blessed the fish in the pond encircling the tea house. But the fish and water blessed us as well. We are the World. There is no Other to fear. I am you. U. R. I.
When my wife and the nanny of our own children and grandchildren sat at the breakfast table with us each morning, the six of us included one person with a PhD and one who had not finished primary school; a Central American who lives the USA and an American who lives in Mexico; married people with children and without children; one woman who had never married but had 5 children, 17 grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren; and people who spoke one language, two languages and more than three languages. We are the World. There is no Other to fear. I am you. U. R. I.
The indigenous pyramid on the mountain, the mezuzah on the door posts, the church on the corner and the Buddhist tea house out back get along together peacefully. We sing birthday songs in English, in Spanish and then in Nahuatl and they are harmonious. These different ways of expressing feelings and spirituality are not antagonistic; they are part of the diversity in the human family. We are the World. We do not hate or fear others for their diversity. I am you. U. R. I.
Why is the morning meditation so meaningful? Silence seems to bind us while words often separate us. One small stick of burning incense fills a room; the sound of running water fills four hearts. We bless the fish and the fish bless us. Was this a special event for the World Interfaith Harmony Week? I don’t know but it was spiritual and we felt a harmony in our diversity. Later in the day as we worked and argued together, we weren’t angry at each Other, we just had differences of opinion. I am you. U. R. I.
When interfaith work is intercultural, multi lingual, international, and interdependent, it reflects the human family which reflects the Universe. Nevertheless silence, words, prayers and positive thoughts are not enough: they must lead to some action. Let’s see what comes next in this U.R. I. region.
In Peace. Jonathan Rose, Regional Coordinator