The stained glass windows were cracked open at Calvary United Methodist Church last week. A row of women in hijabs sat behind the praise band. Another pew held a Roman Catholic priest and men and women in short sleeves and sandals. We had all gathered from our various backgrounds and faith traditions to pray, reflect, and encourage one another to stop violence and promote peace.
When Imam Charaf prayed for God to help us be his mirrors on earth, reflecting his beauty, I was inspired.
When Rabbi Jacobson shared wisdom from Rabbi Fisher, I was convicted of my complacency.
When Alka Chandra shared a Hindu mantra of peace, I was encouraged.
And when I lifted my voice with everyone and I heard the power of our collective melody as we sang "Let there be peace on Earth," I was stirred and strengthened by God's Spirit. And yet,
Prayers...silence...reflection...without action will not save lives or promote peace.
Before we departed, Rev. Elaine Wing, pastor of Calvary UMC in Dumont, challenged us, "If you leave this evening only feeling inspired, then we have failed." She then invited us to the fellowship hall to break fast (for those among us observing Ramadan), become informed with literature and sign cards with words of encouragement for funeral directors, doctors, nurses, and EMTs.
It is a small act of kindness from one stranger to another--from one sister to a brother--that can remind them that the work they do day in and day out matters, and they are not carrying the burden of June 19th alone.