Tag Archives: Peace

May Love Prevail

These inspiring photos were taken on Feb. 1 at the 7th Anniversary of the Interfaith Association for Service to Humanity and Nature (IASHN).  That is a long name for an association founded to foster the development of daily spiritual practice, interfaith respect and harmony, seva or service, wise stewardship of resources, and care for the planet.

I was blessed to be present with 11 women from the U.S. and 160 other people from India and around the world at IASHN’s first gathering.  Sr. Lucy, founder and director of Maher, presided over its creation just steps away from Maher’s first home.  IASHN’s founding took place on an auspicious day.  Twenty years before, Maher Ashram, an interfaith, caste-free organization in India had welcomed the first women and children seeking safe shelter. 

As we processed into the hall at Maher’s National Center, Sr. Lucy and Hirabegum Mulla, chair of the Maher Trust, handed each of us rose petals.  I remember the colorful interfaith mandala, scriptures, passages, songs, and chants, lots of joy, and the smell of spices from the kitchen behind us wafting through the hall.

Unlike most Maher gatherings, the IASHN inauguration was just for adults.  Each of us had made a commitment. We agreed to respect and honor all faith traditions, observe a daily spiritual practice, alleviate human suffering and environmental destruction through seva, or service, and to use natural and monetary resources as carefully as possible so that we might serve as many people in need as possible.  

I was the only person in our group to have qualms about making such a commitment.  Having spent 8 months at Maher, I knew the organization’s integrity.  Could I live up to the pledge?  In the end, perhaps because there was no pressure, I signed the double-spaced document, which fills less than a page.

I often fall short.  However, not a day goes by that I don’t think about the higher standards IASHN calls me to and step toward them.  This experience reminds me of a concept Jillian Pransky shares in her book Deep Listening:  A Healing Practice to Calm Your Body, Clear Your Mind, and Open Your Heart. She writes “a little” + “often” = “a lot.” 

Too often, leaders and citizens choose violence, aggression, and righteousness over compassion, collaboration, and compromise.  I find comfort knowing that those of us who have taken the IASHN pledge are walking together in India, Austria, Brazil, Germany, the UK, the U.S., and other countries toward kindness and care.  IASHN offers proof that the answers to human and societal challenges don’t have to be as complicated as we are often led to believe.  IASHN was founded on the principle that “Love is our Religion.”  I remember Meg Wheatley saying once that, “Love is stronger than law.” 

I am sorry I was not there to celebrate IASHN’s anniversary.  That I didn’t have the opportunity to see women religious leaders join Sr. Lucy and the male religious leaders on stage for the first time.  To hear their voices as they offered prayers and teaching.  That I didn’t get to see the young women perform their beautiful interfaith dance.  That I wasn’t there to carry a candle in the peace rally or sit in meditation with the hundreds who were present. 

In a time when so many feel alone and isolated, I am heartened that I can be connected half a world away through simple daily acts of respect, service, love, and care.  That a small, growing movement that costs nothing to join is helping to make our communities and the planet a safer, healthier, happier place for our children, our grandchildren, their children and all the generations to come.  

To learn more about IASHN and how you can bring its message of interfaith harmony and stewardship to your community, reach out to interfaithassociation2017@gmail.com.

Photos published with permission from IASHN.

Quiet Beauty

When Wandering Takes You Far

I love to wander.  It clears my head.  And it grounds me. 

Recently, I got to wander on the beach in Pacifica.  It was almost 5 p.m. and the box speaker that had been pumping music out across the waves stood silent.  The cove community had scattered – drawn elsewhere by the need to nap or tend to dinner, children, or work-week preparations.


For nearly an hour, the only occupants of this achingly beautiful stretch of shore were me, two crabs and a handful of surprisingly quiet gulls.  I felt staggeringly lucky to be the only one of 7.7 billion humans on planet Earth standing there feeling the waves wash over my feet.

My toes sunk deeper into the sand.  I walked up and down, and back and forth the unusually deserted beach feeling the water pull on the sand beneath my feet.  The owner of the hushed speaker fetched it wordlessly.

When, at last, I perched on a rock to rest, its stockpile of heat rose up through me.  The sun was dropping fast across the waves.  Facing it, filled by it, I sat.  A couple wearing parkas walked across the horizon toward the far end of the beach and to my right, a woman with a “half-full” glass caught my eye and waved.  When I looked back, her husband was sitting beside her holding her hand.

Respite Glow

Now we were five.  I wondered if I should feel lonely or if I had been adrift on the beach too long when the sun, framed by wings of clouds, pulled my gaze back.   

When I finally rose, remnants of light were still washing over us.  I clambered over the rocks toward the row of clapboard houses on stilts.  To my left, a group of neighbors sat laughing as the sun dropped past the horizon at last. 

The next day we would go into the city, stroll through the Japanese Garden in Golden Gate Park, enjoy a scrumptious lunch at Burma Superstar.  My wandering heart still warm, my soul smiling.

Here’s a 13-second peace break just for you. Enjoy ~