Sunday evening a small but faithful group gathered for the third annual Interfaith Prayers for Peace service held at the First Unitarian Church of San Jose. Representatives from Unitarian, Buddhist, Jewish, Franciscan Catholic, Hindu, Jain, Muslim, and Protestant Christian traditions shared prayers and stories of peace. At the closing, Marilyn Carstens of the Dances of Universal Peace group that meets at the Unitarian Church led the group in a brief movement, chanting and ringing bells for peace
A story told by Venerable Jian Hu of the Sunnyvale Zen Center expresses well the experience– he told the story about the difference between heaven and hell. In hell, people were led to a banquet hall where food was set out on the tables and they were invited to sit and eat. However, the chopsticks were three feet long, and no one could get the food to their mouths. Angry that they could not eat, they fought over the food, preventing others from having what they could not get themselves.
In heaven, people were also led to the banquet hall, and also invited to sit and eat. Here, too, the chopsticks were three feet long. However, people learned how to use their chopsticks to feed one another, and all were able to feast and be satisfied.
I believe that all who joined for the brief time of prayer and reflection were fed by one another’s traditions and together we were honored to celebrate our connections to each other.