Finding compassion across faith traditions
My faith journey has withstood trials and tribulations, doubts and questions. I have accepted invitations to friends’ places of worship and have taken part in ceremonies from other faiths, and I have come away with respect and appreciation for their traditions. Those visits leave me feeling a deeper sense of the greatness of God and confirmation of my Catholic identity.
At times, I wish more people would recognize the commonalities of different faiths, as that would make the world a more peaceful place.
Recently, a symbol designed to bring peace and harmony to the world was under construction in the lobby of St. Ann’s Community in Rochester. Following a workshop for an article I am writing, I stopped in to see the mandala creation by the Venerable Tenzin Yignyen, a Buddhist monk and visiting professor of Tibetan Buddhism at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva. His work took part during St. Ann’s weeklong series of events, “Honoring Grief,” in early November.
A mandala also serves as a spiritual tool for developing compassion, something he emphasized as he worked, said Sister of St. Joseph Mary Louise Mitchell. When questioned why a Buddhist monk would be working at a Catholic institution, he simply would ask the person if Jesus and Buddha would have been friends, Sister Mitchell recounted. The answer was yes.
I also loved hearing Yignyen explain about the process of dismantling the mandala and how that symbolizes the impermanence of life. The sand used to build the mandala is returned from where it came, as a show of gratitude to water so vital to our existence.
As we move into the season of gratitude and reflection, I hope we all slow down and consider showing compassion for one another and find the gift of peace.