February 7, 2023
Today is the seventh and final daily reflection for Interfaith Harmony Week. If you missed any of the reflections they can be found on our blog at interfaithpeaceproject.org. The Interfaith Peace Project was pleased to offer you these reflections for each day of Interfaith Harmony Week, February 1-7, 2023. World Interfaith Harmony Week is an annual event observed during the first week of February. The General Assembly of the United Nations designated this week to point out that mutual understanding and interreligious dialogue constitute important dimensions of a culture of peace. Therefore, the General Assembly established World Interfaith Harmony Week to promote harmony between all people regardless of their faith.
Our reflections this year come from the diverse people we have met on the streets. The houseless community is a vital part of the Interfaith Community. Over the years, we have learned the wisdom of simplicity from our friends in the streets. We are pleased to share their wisdom, courage, and creativity with you. The names and locations of the various individuals have been changed for their safety and anonymity. The people involved in these reflections asked for nothing but the opportunity to be heard, and we are grateful for their sharing.
INTERFAITH HARMONY WEEK
THE WISDOM OF THE STREETS
by Thomas P. Bonacci, C.P.
Katherine was a loving grandmother, mother, sister, great-grandmother, and uncompromising peace activist. She worked for justice and peace every day of her life. She was not afraid to confront family, friends, or strangers to advocate for justice, work for peace, and love everyone with the intensity of her heart.
She challenged me to reengage in my interfaith work when I arrived back in California. Let me be more honest, she demanded I reengage no matter the consequences. She always demanded people strive for their excellence.
She was always protesting against the establishment. She raised her children to be people of justice, peace, and love. Her home was a refuge for the hungry, a haven for the poor, a sanctuary of welcome.
She loved to be arrested. She said it gave her an opportunity to comfort other prisoners as she instructed the corrections officers in the fine art of compassion and care for those in their charge.
As her senses dulled and life became more difficult, she struggled to support all those who committed to the cause of justice and the way of peace. She lived every moment of her life for the well-being of others.
Katherine loved to pray, worship, and sign. She had a priestly heart. The sanctuary and the street intersected in her heart. She saw the wounded heart of the Divine in the poor and those who are the victim of injustice.
God, for Katherine, is to be found in the sanctuary of the streets. Paradise is where your heart is.
The life of “peace” is both an inner journey toward a disarmed heart and a public journey toward a disarmed world. This difficult but beautiful journey gives infinite meaning and fulfillment to life itself because our lives become a gift for the whole human race. With peace as the beginning, middle, and end of life, life makes sense.
Non-violence confronts systematic injustice with active love, but refuses to retaliate with further violence under any circumstances. In order to halt the vicious cycles of violence, it requires a willing acceptance of suffering and death rather than inflicting suffering or death on anyone else.
I find that when I am involved in the business of life, when I’m working with people, particularly with children, I feel better. A kind of strength and energy comes with that.
Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.
1. Today I will bless my home as a sanctuary of welcome.
2. Today I will bless my heart as a sanctuary of loving concern for others.
3. Today I will bless my soul as a sanctuary of peace.
4. Every night before I sleep, I will gently bless the World.