Growing up in the American South, I did not experience other religions first hand.
Southern Baptist churches dominated the landscape with a few other Protestant faiths and a sprinkling of Episcopal, Catholic and Luthern churches. There were also the “holy rollers” and “going to meeting” revival groups but they were not part of the mainstream.
There were no Hasidic Jews in black hats, Buddhists in long robes, or Muslims with prayer mats.
We did have a kid named “Martinez” who transferred into our school.
We pronounced his name “Martin nez”. He entertained us with stories about Mexico, the day of the dead, and exotic tidbits from his Catholic upbringing.
I was curious to know and learn about other world religions.
So, I read about them in books from the library and later studied them in college.
At the international students club, I talked late into the night with exchange students from other countries. I had many questions!
In my adult years, I have enjoyed friendships with Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, aetheists, agnostics as well as Christians.
I found goodness in my friends of all faiths (or lack thereof).
Although I did not embrace their religions, I often found beauty and meaning in their teachings.
I was treated respectfully and kindly when visiting their countries and their homes.
I am a card-carrying Episcopalian. I find comfort, strength, meaning and purpose in my faith.
Yet, sometimes I attend shabbat services at Congregation Beth Israel in Portland, Oregon. I believe my faith is enriched by sharing in the Friday night service.
It was there that I found these lovely words. I leave them with you and your loved ones.
May these hours of rest and renewal
open our hearts to joy and our minds to truth.
May all who struggle find rest on this day.
May all who suffer find solace.
May all who hurt find healing on this day.
May all who despair find purpose.
May all who hunger find fulfillment on this day.
And may this day fulfill its promise.
Baruch atah, Adonai, m’kadeish HaShabbat.
See also Mi Shebeirach