6 June 2011
People from seven world faith traditions gathered at the Home of Compassion in Island Bay for an unusual and inspiring retreat at the end of April.
In this ‘inter-spirituality’ experience participants aimed to share with each other, at a deeper level than ‘inter-faith’, contemplative/meditative practices related to compassion − the common ground to all.
There were 18 people attending from the contemplative strands of Shamanic, Hindu, Daoist, Buddhist, Jewish, Christian and Sufi traditions. All were generous in their sharing, courageous in trust, and rewarded by a new range of understandings of other traditions. The presenters were all approached personally – no-one was an ‘official’ representative of their tradition.
They were Dr John Broomfield (Shamanic), Hennie Barnard (Daoist), Dr Pushpa Wood (Hindu), Dido Dunlop (Buddhist), Hilary Phillips and JoEllen Duckor (Jewish), Pip Nicholls (Christian) and Marie Love, Kieron and Christina Horide-Hobley (Sufi).
The organisers were an ad hoc group of four from a Christian background: Phil Bond, a Catholic who had the idea at a Buddhist workshop, Trish McBride, spiritual director, counsellor and writer; Pat Booth, experienced facilitator and accounts manager and Pip Nicholls, a Catholic spiritual director and educator. They provided an empty kete, a framework into which the presenters could bring their own treasures of practice for sharing.
The venue was the Home of Compassion, Island Bay, which was an ideal setting both spiritually and physically. It was a very enriching time for everyone and a small step in the direction of world peace. It was noted a few months ago that Spiritual Directors International had arranged an inter-faith gathering on compassion that same weekend in Atlanta, Georgia.
Greetings and prayer support were exchanged with an acknowledgement that there is a bigger, Spirit-led picture.
Participants’ feedback was overwhelmingly affirming. Comments included:
‘On Friday I said ours were all different paths to the same Divine. By Sunday I could see our paths are not so different after all.’
‘Wonderfully deep and wonderful attunement to each other.’
‘The weekend offered me a taste of the meditation practices of seven faith paths. What gave it richness and power for me was the sharing of deeply felt personal experience of each faith.’