Monday, November 14, 2011

Spiritual sharing circle at Occupy LA

Our first spiritual sharing circle took place yesterday at OLA and was truly awesome. Over 35 people took part, including people of diverse faiths: Jewish, Vedantist, Christian, humanist, etc. Several people from the Parliament of the World's Religion showed up, along with lots of Friends. By the end of our sharing time, we were all friends.

Members of OLA took part and appreciated our presence. The site is very noisy, but our inward silence was deep, the sharing profound, and the messages moving.

Some spoke of social injustices, others of spiritual concerns. Included below is a message combining both concerns, shared by Gene Rothman, a Jewish member of the Parliament of the World's Religions. His words speak to my heart as a Friend. (Full disclosure: Gene was one of the groomsmen at my wedding!)

People of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds spoke and offered prayers. Many passersby stopped to observe and recognized the sacredness of what we were about.

We agreed to have another sharing circle next Sunday at 2 PM. Some expressed the hope there would be daily worship opportunities.

We were blessed to have access to a large and comfortable tent owned by Carlos Marrroquin, who has a concern about foreclosure prevention. See
We Quakers formed an affinity group to explore how we can continue to have sharing circles like this. We felt we needed a large and sturdy tent like the Carlos' for our interfaith worship and peacemaking workshops in a more quiet location, preferably the north end of the encampment--the people's university area. We raised $101 for this purpose. We would like to cooperate with the Interfaith Sanctuary and hope that other religious groups will raise an additional $600 so we can all have a decent-sized and quality tent for our interfaith activities.

A Methodist pastor named Paige Eaves provided several bags of wonderful bread, which was much appreciated by the Occupiers and became our informal communion loaf.

Here is the message shared by Gene Rothman:

Peace, Shalom, Salaam, Shanti:

My name is Gene and I am a Jewish member of the Southern California Committee of the Parliament of the World’s Religions.

I want to say something about two kinds of silence.

I want to note that the same letters are in the world “silent” and the word “listen.”

Holy silence is when we listen each other, when we listen to that small, still voice within, and when we allow ourselves to hear the sweet sounds of nature.

Unholy silence is being silent and staying at home in the face of injustice. You [members of Occupy L.A]. prayed with your feet, as Rabbi A.J. Heschel said, in coming here.

A Japanese-American poet, Mitsuye Yamada, wrote about silence after listening to her father tell her that silence would keep her safe. But she and her family were still taken to a Japanese internment camp. She ends her poem, Warning, by saying: “My silences had not protected me.”

I want to conclude by thanking you all for raising your voices and putting your bodies on the line. It allowed others to find the courage to break their unholy silence and this has already changed the country. I feel especially grateful and blessed to be with you accompanied by my interfaith sisters and brothers, including those who may be secular, agnostic, or atheist: for they, too, have kept the faith in their own way.

With your claim of the public square, you have reminded our sleeping citizens and the bought-and-paid for political class that we will not be silent while democracy is buried by bankers and billionaires. My prayer is that our blessed, non-violent unrest will continue to multiply until justice rolls down like a mighty stream.

Please repeat after me:

Baruch A-ta Adonai E-lo-hei-nu Me-lech Ha’olam, m’sha-neh ha-b ri-ot

Blessed be the Eternal, our G-d, Ruler of space and time, Who makes every people and every person unique

1 comment:

  1. Thank you. I reposted Gene's message on my blog. I've been sitting with the idea of holy remembering and the Hebrew word shema which means listening. I find Gene's message deeply moving