|Juliana Karol receiving her Masters degree (from the Livestream)|
The true highlight of May 4, 2017 for me was watching the afternoon livestream of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion graduation ceremony, which enabled me to witness Rhonda's and my daughter-in-law, Juliana Karol, receive her Master of Arts in Hebrew Literature degree. We are proud of her reaching this milestone as she completes her fourth year of rabbinic school (with Adam being the supportive and wise spouse all along the way).
My day began with the New Mexico State University Interfaith Council meeting with NMSU President Garrey Carruthers and Provost Daniel Howard. I serve as Past President/Executive Advisor of the group, which brings faith leaders and advisors of student groups together to support students and to develop programming for the university community in the spiritual realm.
While the House of Representatives was voting on the ACHA, and just after President Trump signed an executive order seeking to enable religious congregations to engage in partisan political speech, I left that meeting with the intention of doing something I had never done before.
|Dona Ana County National Day of Prayer Observance|
Today was the National Day of Prayer. In 1952, members of the House and Senate introduced a joint resolution for an annual National Day of Prayer, "on which the people of the United States may turn to God in prayer and meditation at churches, in groups, and as individuals." It was signed by then President Harry S. Truman.
|City of Las Cruces National Day of Prayer observance|
Locally, the Dona Ana County Commission and the City of Las Cruces each issued proclamations for the National Day of Prayer. Ceremonies were held next to the County Building and outside City Hall.
So what I have never done before today is attend a National Day of Prayer gathering.
What did I see?
I was able to see the heartfelt prayer of local citizens.
|That's me in the corner.....|
I heard scripture, readings, and comments that expressed fervent Christian belief in witnessing God's glory.
I heard prayers on behalf of leaders and various aspects of the community, all expressed in the language of one religion.
I chose, in both cases, to stand on the fringes of the event, as I knew that my faith was not truly included.
This week, Jews around the world will be reading during Shabbat worship the verses from Leviticus 19 that call on us to "love your neighbor as yourself" and "love the stranger as yourself."
I had no role in expressing my faith in a fervent way today, but perhaps I did by my willingness to be present, at least for a time, in each place, even if I felt like I was on the outside looking in.
What would I tell my neighbors who gathered in prayer today?
I would say that there are many ways to approach God with what Jews call "kavanah" (deep feeling and intention).
I would say that even if we can't pray together, we have to find ways of coming together that will allow us to act for the good of the community out of our faith or personal values.
I would also say this: when uttering the words "God's glory," my heritage would look at the expression in Isaiah Chapter 6: "The whole earth is filled with God's glory."
That means that no earthly boundaries, no human divisions, and no one religion or theological notion can contain the glory of an Eternal presence, a oneness in the universe that brings us all together.
Whether or not such worship events should happen in governmental contexts is definitely up for discussion.
My view, however, of the circle of humanity includes all of us, together, in an existence that we can make more bearable for one another if we would listen and learn, love and help so that we will know and spread hope and not despair.
And, to achieve such a life for this community and the world, I will continue to pray every day.