Finding Hope in the Holy

Leaders of spiritual and religious traditions and organizations gathered from far and near to participate in “Finding Hope in the Holy”, the culmination of months of planning and effort.

A kettledrum sounded and “Finding Hope in the Holy” began with the Rev. Dr. Gwynne Guibord  making an opening statement.

Opening Statement

On September 11, 2001, when innocence fell from the sky, people from many lands, representing many cultures, speaking many languages, and calling upon the Holy using many names, died. It is in remembrance of them that we turn to our sacred scriptures to commemorate this day and to look forward united in hope.

It was followed by a procession of members of The Advisory Committee,  The Board of Directors, the Children, and the Presenters.

The Readings

And then the Readers began: reading, singing, chanting passages from their Holy Scriptures that brought acknowledgement of our common pain and loss as human beings, and of hope and solace as people of faith.

Cantor Mark Salzman began chanting from The Book of Lamentations.

Turn us thou unto thee, O LORD, and we shall be turned;
Renew our days as of old.

Rabbi Neil Comess-Daniels read from Isaiah ending with the words:

…If you banish lawlessness from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and evil speech, And you offer compassion to the hungry, and satisfy the famished creature – Then shall your light shine in darkness, and your gloom shall be like noonday. You will always feel guided by the Oneness-of-Being, and your thirst will be quenched in parched places, and you will feel strong down to your bones. You will fee like a watered garden, like a spring whose waters do not fail. Men and women from your midst shall rebuild ancient ruins; you shall restore foundations laid long ago. And you shall be called, “Repairer of the breach, Restorer of paths in which we dwell.”

After each person’s reading of Hope, the reader placed the sacred text on a long table in the center of the stage and poured water into a cistern in the front of the gathering as the entire assembly repeated together:

May our tears of grief and loss unite us with all people and over time transform into a fount of over-flowing wisdom and compassion.

And on it cycled, ever deepening…

The Buddhists with Venerable Miao Hsi reading from “The Great Compassionate Dharani Sutra” and Gatha for Transfer of Merits:

May palms be joined in every world in kindness, compassion, joy and giving.
May all beings find security in friendship, peace and loving care.
May calm and mindful practice seed patience and equanimity deep.
May we give rise to spacious hearts and humble thoughts of gratitude.

And the sacred text was placed open on the table beside the Torah, and Venerable Miao Hsi raised the pitcher and water flowed into the clear basin below.

No one who has not heard it before is prepared for the sound of Islamic prayers being chanted. Abdelwahab Ben Youcef in his long white garb startled many with a new and haunting sound.

Imam Jihad Turk concluded with a reading also from the Holy Qu’ran and then placed the sacred scripture on the table and lifted the water high in the air as those gathered proclaimed with each reading.

May our tears of grief and loss
unite us with all people
over time
into a fount
of overflowing wisdom
and compassion.

The Sikhs had a simple musical instrument accompany the reading by Professor Ranjit Singh Ji, which flowed like poetry:

Just as sparks rise above from fire, but fall back in the same fire,
As many particles of dust rise above to fall back in the same heap;
As millions of waves arise in water only to merge in their source again;
Similarly this mundane world is the manifestation of the real One:
They are born of Him and ultimately coalesce in Him.

Ravinder Singh Khalsa read from a song of hope and then placed it open on the table that was filling with the presence of the Holy.

Indigenous People don’t have written sacred texts the way that other faith groups do. Their Holy Scripture is the earth we stand on and the sea that feeds us and the heavens above us. The land is what informs and heals and inspires the Indigenous Spirit that connects all things and makes them all relatives to one another. Indigenous people share stories of the earth that are deceptively simple and profoundly spiritual. Tongva Elder Cindi Alvitre chanted a song of lamentation and a song of hope. This is from the latter.

The sun has risen and I see you, my relative once again. The tears are life of our oldest ancestor, our Creator who takes care of our world. Be there and embrace.

The scripture Cindi Alvitre placed on the table amid all the others after offering it to the four-directions was an abalone shell and a feather.

Rev. Peter Rood chanted the comforting ancient melody of Psalm 142 that begins with our common experience of calling on the Holy in times of trouble.

I cry aloud to you, O Lord.
I loudly plead for your help.
I pour out my trouble before you
and make known to you my distress…

Methodist Bishop Mary Ann Swenson offered a reading of hope from Romans 8 in The Common English Bible, a new translation of the Bible, a translation new to many. (The Bible has been translated hundreds and hundreds of times over the centuries in countless languages.)

She placed it on the table filling with scriptures and then poured out the water, our collective tears into the clear glass cistern filling more and more with each presenter.

And together we said:

May our tears of grief and loss unite us with all people and over time transform into a fount of over-flowing wisdom and compassion.

The Baha’i prayers and meditations of the Prophet Baha’u’llah were chanted by Setareh Safari and Randolph Dobbs. They began with the words:

“Create in me a pure heat, O my God, and renew a tranquil conscience within me, O my Hope! Through the spirit of power confirm Thou me in Thy Cause, O my Best-Beloved, and by the light of Thy glory reveal unto me Thy path, O Thou the Goal of my desire!”

The readings came to a close with Rajshree Patel who chanted from one of the most, if not the most ancient collections of writings that has impacted the Far East, The Upanishads.

May we be protected together, may we be nourished together,

may we put our efforts together,
may our learning be brilliant,

may we never hate each other.

Om  Peace  Peace  Peace