Yesterday I sat in on the virtual National Interfaith Prayer Service for Healing and Hope, and it was profoundly moving. Lawd, I even cried! No, this wasn't any government or political thing. Rather it was spiritual leaders from many faiths--Buddhists to Zoroastrians and everything in between--coming together to pray for everyone affected by COVID-19. (Well, there weren't any Neo-Pagans, so someone needs to work on that!)
Why did I cry? Because it reminded me that all this division in the U.S. is not normal, and it has gotten worse in the last few years. What I saw in the service were people of various cultures, religions and skin colors (the majority were people of color) focusing on what we have in common rather than what divides us. These folks were different, yes, but there was respect, appreciation and solidarity. We all need more of this. Instead, we have an unarmed Ahmaud Arbery shot dead while jogging simply because he looked suspicious and President Trump constantly pitting us against each other. I cried because the prayer service lifted everyone up and we have so little of that these days.
The service was hosted by Religions for Peace USA and featured a variety of prayers, chants and statements from different faiths. Here are the highlights for me: a female Jewish rabbi sang a beautiful song based on the Psalm 30 excerpt, "You turned my mourning into dancing"; a Jain practitioner reminded us of how their daily practice of non-violence already requires them to wear a face mask; a Muslim imam shared a prayer by Christian Saint Oscar Romero; and a Hindu teacher issued a stirring call to action for individual religions to come together in order to serve the whole of humanity.
What can you do?
The group's formal call to action includes 2 things: 1) organize weekly interfaith prayers at the local level for those affected by COVID-19 and 2) donate to RFP's Multi-religious Humanitarian Fund. There will be future prayer services, which I'll try and post as they are announced.