A Milestone Interfaith Event

On Tuesday, October 26th we held a dedication of the Reflection Room at Swedish/Edmonds, where I work as hospital chaplain. It has been a two-year process to get the room built, decorated and dedicated as “A place to worship, reflect, meditate, pray, seek, or just be.” I could write page after page about everything that’s in the room and why that particular item is there – a driftwood sculpture, a wall fountain, worship supplies, a memorial book,and a book for prayer requests – but I’d rather have you come and visit the room to see it for yourself.

Right now I want to share with you the impact the event had on me. As I start to get a little perspective, I realize this will be a milestone event for me. During this time of political, social, and religious polarization, I was privileged that an imam, a rabbi, a Christian minister, a Humanist celebrant, and priests from the Buddhist and Hindu traditions were willing to come together for this ceremony. I would like to say something profound, but don’t have the words.

Instead, try to imagine the 6 celebrants, each of them offering from their own tradition: the Tekbir (Allahu Akbar, call to prayer); Vedic chanting at an altar set up with flowers before Lord Ganesha (with the elephant head); intercessory prayer according to the Christian, Jewish, and Islamic traditions; reminders to live compassionately from the Buddhist and Humanist traditions. 

Afterwards, I invited everyone present to give a symbol of their compassion. Each person was given a polished river rock to take into the Reflection Room. The rock was to symbolize something they thought that future users of the room might need, for instance strength, faith, love, celebration, peace, comfort, laughter, consoling tears. I love looking at the collection of rocks, thinking of the compassion that has been offered.

Another purpose of the celebration was to dedicate it to the memory of a kind and popular physician, Peter Kruger, who died very young in 1983. Peter Kruger’s widow and daughter honored us with their presence and and they were able to have conversations with hospital staff who had worked with Peter back in the 70s and 80s. I pray that was meaningful to them.

Generosity – that is the word that arises as I think of the event. The generosity of spirit of the celebrants from all the faith groups, the financial generosity of those who donated money to create the Reflection Room, and the generosity of love as we steeped the Reflection Room in compassion.

I am deeply grateful for the generosity I witnessed, and I rededicate myself to the belief that we are given life for the purpose of developing our capacity for compassion and love.

Query for prayerful reflection:

How will generosity of spirit be made manifest in your life?

How will you foster a spirit of generosity among those you know who may not be in agreement with each other?

Reflection Room Art