Interfaith is about Oneness. It is all very well to spend time discussing all of our differences and trying to find commonalities, ways to respect each other and yet still cling to our own understandings and fears. This world is becoming too small for all of us to stay contained in our own small reasoning’s and our own small boxes of what we have been raised to believe to be true.
Oneness is the understanding that all of our approaches to the Divine, have the same root; that of love, brother-sisterhood and the consciousness that we are all here for the same purpose; to love one another and the Earth we live on. Having an Interfaith understanding is the beginning of that idea and it is important to learn about other ways of looking at the world and religion and what people believe and think. BUT it is not the be all and end all of Interfaith or our consciousness.
It is wonderful that King Abdullah of Jordan , who is responsible for creating the World Interfaith Harmony Week at the UN, has written that “the true quest is to deeply connect on the level of Oneness.” He has said that “our true failing is not understanding our connections in a deep and meaningful way”.
What is a “deep and meaningful way”? It is my hope that everyone gathered here who is approaching Interfaith Understanding and acceptance from a single faith POV, will delve yet deeper to find that single core value that we all yearn for- THE CONNECTION TO ONENESS.
What is Oneness on a deeper level? I believe that it is the place we go within ourselves that allows us to connect to another person’s spirit, regardless of their dress, beliefs, gender, race or religion. The place that says “Yes my sister, I see you “, “Yes my brother, I see you”. I see the YOU that transcends the beliefs of your ancestors and your peoples. That takes and puts our connection on a higher level and brings us closer to the God of ALL understanding.
From that place, we can all begin to explore the concepts that make up each other’s faiths from a place of connection, Oneness. And then and only then, can we see past the surface issues that seem to cause such friction. These become less important, less distracting and we can open the doorway to true dialogue and peace .
What is it that women bring to begin this process? What can we, as women, do to connect to the Oneness in any discussion about religion? Interfaith Dialogue and understanding begins with listening, something we, as women, do so well. Listening, really listening, begins in the heart, and holds within itself the seeds of compassion, respect and understanding .
Since time immemorial, women have been the natural peace makers. We have always recognized that place of Oneness, where we are all one family. Throughout history, with very few exceptions, women have not started wars. As givers of life to children, women understand that Oneness exists within each child, regardless in which faith they are raised.
Women understand Oneness and that we are all one family. So how can we open up the dialogue for Interfaith Understanding on a really deep level? We can truly “see each other” and hold each person in that deep place of Interfaith Openness and acceptance.
Women as Interfaith Leaders
talk given by
Rev. Deborah Steen-Ross, MSC, ACH
55th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
©Rev. Deborah Steen Ross, February, 2011
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