It's all about faith
By ELLEN LAWRENCE
After the events of Sept. 11, all Betty Miller heard from those around her was frustration and hopelessness.
But the Beaverlodge-area resident held firm to her belief that most people were inherently good and that there was some light peeking through this worldly darkness.
So when she heard a group of people from all faiths, cultures and spiritual backgrounds were regularly meeting together to share what was in their hearts, she jumped at the chance.
"It's been a place to reaffirm that the majority of us are caring people - no matter where we come from, or what country we come from, or what faith we come from - and there is this underlying feeling in everyone that we want peace on Earth," said Miller, adding besides modeling the type of caring people we are meant to be, we can all come together and pray for the same in others throughout the world.
"A lot of times people feel helpless and that it's hopeless, and it isn't. We need to just speak out and to keep on doing that because we're fighting against something that's huge - this hatred in the world - and we need to make the love and the caring even bigger than that."
Miller is one of about 15 others who've been a part of the Multi-faith Devotions meetings - gatherings designed to share and reflect upon the teachings of numerous sacred texts, poetry or other writings. They're simple meetings - for less than an hour group members sit in a circle reflecting on world events and how to instill hope in the world.
There have been representatives from the Baha'i, Hindu, Sikh, Jewish, Muslim and Christian communities just to name a few. Some, such as Miller, don't align themselves with any particular religious or faith organization at all.
"I'm sure there are some people coming into it
and they're trying to find some kind of meaning about
it (Sept. 11)," said city resident Mitra Zarei,
a member of the local Baha'i community.
A few days after Sept. 11, Zarei and Catherine McLaughlin, another member of the Baha'i community, felt the need to pray and reflect on the events with others. They volunteered to organize the first meeting and invited all the church and faith communities they could think of.
Since then, the group has been meeting once every two weeks at different locations.
What's promising is that the sacred texts - which throughout history have been used to divide people - are now uniting them, said McLaughlin.
"Our diversity is something that makes us beautiful and if we look closely we find so much commonality," she said, adding human beings have to look for those commonalities and celebrate them. "People may worship in a slightly different way, their language might be different, they may read from a different book, but there's one Creator and one source of truth."
It's unfortunate that it takes "radical, unimaginable, horrific things" to get everyone's attention, said McLaughlin, but to her, it is encouraging there are people who are thinking beyond Grande Prairie, beyond Canada and even beyond North America.
Linda Smith, a member of St. Paul's United Church, says it's been spiritually strengthening just to bridge the gaps and build understandings in the community.
"You hope for worldwide but you can't do too much about it so you start with what you can," smiled Smith. "It is (healing) in terms of being able to feel that one can somehow reach out to others. I think a lot of people feel this helpless feeling of 'What can I do?' when they look at the world and at least being part of this group it's one way of reaching out and being able to receive."
For more information about the Multi-faith Devotions meetings, contact McLaughlin at 402-6211.
©Copyright 2001, Daily Herald-Tribune