Prayer for UN World Interfaith Harmony Week

Source of healing and wholeness we call by many names,

Ground us in gratitude. May we find our way back from the brink of anger or fear to a foundation of thanksgiving and gladness and praise.

Praise be for diversity. Different people have different experiences of the world. We have different stories we tell to make sense of our world. Some stories about reality feature a creative force that knows and desires. Other stories depict the forces of the universe creating and destroying without anything that could be compared to knowledge, intentionality, or purpose -- rather, beauty, awe, and majesty-compelling reverence are the products, not the source, of unfolding creation.

Still other stories tell of a creative force that metaphorically rather than literally has knowledge and desires. We have different senses of what’s out there. Of course we do. We’ve had different experiences, shaped by different cultures and traditions. We’ve admired and respected different elders, heroes, and saints, so how could we not have different stories about the grounding of this reality we all share?

Let us seek not to minimize real difference – let us seek to celebrate it.

We pray that our hearts grow better able to celebrate the fact of diversity among us. Ground us in gratitude.

We also use words differently. We speak of the same things with different words, and use the same words for different things. Teach us not to feel shame or blame, or evoke forlorn images of Babel’s tower, but to delight in and learn from each other’s creativity, each other’s different modes of expression, the new poetry offered us by unfamiliar traditions -- for new poetry may open our hearts to new depths of connection to the sacred that is beyond all words.

Thank you, thank you, for the riches of expression our diverse traditions offer us all. Ground us in gratitude.

Ground us also in hope, for we know the path ahead is not easy. There is much in all our traditions that is neither about a sense of what’s out there or in here, nor about a sense of how to speak of it. It’s just about: "What side are you on? Whose team are you on?"

We love and are nurtured in the communities of our own. Let us hope not to dissolve all boundaries of identity. Let us hope to uphold our differences while building understanding, maintain our distinctions while cooperating for peace, sustain our separate identities while recognizing participation in a greater unity that transcends the very boundaries we also need.

Ground us in that hope, that we may find the strength and the wisdom to make it so.


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