The older I get, and the more deeply my heart breaks at the lack of compassion and respectful communication in the world, the more I believe that our healing and survival are going to depend on people learning to talk to each other. Specifically, people who have opposing views of the world need to learn to listen to one another, to see God within the heart of people with whom they vehemently disagree. I see the world splintering into us’s and them’s everywhere I turn: citizen and immigrant, Democrat and Republican, men and women, Christian and Muslim and Jew. Rather than opening our hearts to one another at a time of national and spiritual crisis, we are building walls around our convictions and hiding in the comfort of like-minded communities. If that does not change, we will soon forget that we must hold onto the conviction that we are more united than we are divided.
Sometimes those conversations happen directly, with intention, in a structured way. That is the ideal scenario, to facilitate the dialogue in a healthy environment of open-mindedness and shared goals. I would love to see more of those conversations at CBT in the coming months and years.
Sometimes those conversations happen spontaneously, unexpectedly, which can, and often does, lead to harsh words and undesired consequences.
And sometimes, those conversations happen as a result of a different kind of community building: when you bring people together to pray or sing or do service work side by side, they begin to talk to one another differently out of that shared experience, to see more humanity in the other.
Whatever the path to changing the way we talk to one another, I am in favor of it. I choose honesty and giving each other the benefit of the doubt. I choose prayer as a vehicle for healing. I choose hope. It is in this spirit that the Shir Joy band and I are returning this Sunday morning at 10:00 to offer the music for Orinda Community Church’s Sunday morning worship service. We share many values with the members of this beautiful, open-minded community, but our lens upon the world is necessarily different because they are Christians and we are Jews. We could let this boundary stop us from praying and making music together. Or we can accept an invitation to blend our worship experiences, to praise God by different names, so that we remember, perhaps for just one hour on one Sunday morning, that even small acts of reaching out can shift the balance towards the good.
I hope to see many of you there.