Wednesday, August 19, 2009

friendships and faith

      One of the great joys and blessings of my life has been that every since I was a child, I have had friends from different faith traditions;  Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, Taoist, Christian, Jewish, Sikh, Native American,  African traditional, etc.  etc.   From these wonderful people, at different stages in my life, I have learned a whole variety of ways to see things.  From their beliefs I have enlarged my understanding of the crucial role faith and values play in people's relationships, actions, and life-styles.  If I had not had these friendships,  I might have seen the various faiths they represented as simply subjects to be studied,  or beliefs to be ignored or even criticized.  I certainly would not have grown, as I have,  in understanding and appreciation of the benefits of many different forms of faith and its expression.  My life would be much the poorer for not having had the direct, personal access I have had to the inner life of faith I found in my friends.  
     To this day, one of the things I most enjoy is getting together with such friends with the express person of sharing our faith perspectives,  our devotional practices, and our hopes for the future contributions of our faith communities to the welfare of the whole world.
     Now I you have friends from other cultures and/or faiths?  Do you talk about your faith in an open, curious, friendly way?  Do you rule out other people's faith as irrelevant or even threatening to your own?   Or ( I hope) do you deliberately cultivate friendships with people different from you in faith, culture, and background?  As more and more of us do this in a deliberate way, the more we are contributing in an important way to world peace and the expansion of human consciousness.  For the first time in recorded history,  people from all over the world and many faiths live in our neighborhoods and are also easily accessible on the internet.   Opportunities abound for a life blessed by faith-ful friendships that embrace a wide spectrum of the world's faith traditions.  How will you take advantage of this exciting new opportunity?