Heading to a new home in New Mexico, Church Lab member, Mac, reflects on her time dialoguing in Austin, TX.
There are no "others" here at Church Lab. Only friends. People with good hearts and the courage to take a chance on being open and vulnerable in talking about their faith as it relates to daily life and current events.
Years ago, before he passed away, the famous segregationist and Alabama Governor George Wallace had a change of heart. Governor Wallace made international news when he stood in the doorway of a school blocking black students from entering. After his assassination attempt and the paralysis that followed, Wallace actually went to black churches to apologize. He apologized on national television. Many credit his change of heart to that brush with death, but that wasn't the only thing that changed him....
Wallace had an attendant who helped him when he was in the wheelchair for many years. Proving that God does indeed have a sense of humor, this man was African-American. Through their close work together they had may conversations. Few news reports gave much interest to this, but in their conversations about family, about life, about children and about faith, the heart of a devoted racist was changed forever. Wallace became a Christian and his daughter who survived him works for justice. Wallace proved the truth that we cannot hate a person or people who are so much like us. Knowledge of the depth of our friends creates love.
This little truth is the most powerful thing for me about Interfaith Dialogue. We are living in times when we are just so darned busy we can hardly breathe, much less sit down and actually listen, understand and share with another person. Yet we find it hard to fear and hate once we get to see the humanity, courage and faith in those we make the time to know. We have everything to gain by doing this simple, yet powerful thing.
In my time attending dialogue I have sat in the room with atheists, neo-pagans, conservative and liberal Christians, Buddhists, Mormons, Muslims, wiccans, people unsure of their faith and people who felt that their faith was the best part of who they are. The impressive thing is that in this group, the people treat each other the way I wish the whole world would treat each other: With the attention, respect, dignity and honor we all deserve.
We have discussed so many ideas and beliefs in so many ways. It's hard to not leave the room and ask myself, “Could this be a way to create the peace we all dream of and hope for?”
There are no "others" here at Church Lab. Only friends. People with good hearts and the courage to take a chance on being open and vulnerable in talking about their faith as it relates to daily life and current events. In doing so, we have learned how to love people who in some ways are quite different and yet share some deep and connecting traits. I have watched Republicans, Democrats and Independents sit in a room and have a not just civil, but loving dialogue about faith and politics! We even talk about essential or strong differences, but do it with honor and respect. We have discussed so many ideas and beliefs in so many ways. It's hard to not leave the room and ask myself, “Could this be a way to create the peace we all dream of and hope for?”
If participating in Dialogue changes me, makes me more able to carry forth the principles learned in the room as I walk through my world, then I am blessed. And maybe I can be a blessing too. That's my own agenda— To create peace in my own heart toward others and then take another's hand and pass it on. Listen and understand, even if my own feelings are different, but always, always, show the honor toward my brothers and sisters that my own faith tells me is right and just.
Going to the Dialogue has convinced me we can do this. And we must. The world is too fragile and difficult a place for us not to be peacemakers.