February 2, 2023
Today is the second of our daily reflections for Interfaith Harmony Week. The Interfaith Peace Project is 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
GRATITUDE IS INDEED THE ATTITUDE
by Thomas P. Bonacci, C.P.
Sam walked with an air of sophistication. He held his head upright, alert to the people around him. He had a rugged look as he seized the day with his gentle smile and calming presence. He is reminiscent of someone on the verge of finding something wonderful. Sam enfleshed the wise teaching, “Seek, and you shall find.”
I met Sam in the Cathedral Plaza in downtown Oakland, California. He was searching through a garbage can, looking for something to eat. Before I could offer him some money, he found some half-eaten bread. He caught my eye before I had a chance to look away. I did not want to embarrass him. His eyes pierced into my soul, and he said in a calm, quiet, peaceful voice, “May I share this bread with you?” I was stunned. I smiled and declined to my regret. As I began to walk away, I heard him praying as he blessed himself and his food. He gave thanks to his God for some daily bread. As Sam gave thanks for his bread, I gave thanks for Sam.
TEACHING BY JACK KORNFIELD
If we see the world as sacred, which is an expression of the spiritual life, then gratitude follows immediately and naturally. We’ve been given the extraordinary privilege of incarnating as human beings—and of course the human incarnation entails the 10,000 joys and 10,000 sorrows, as it says in the Tao Te Ching—but with it we have the privilege of the lavender color at sunset, the taste of a tangerine in our mouth, and the almost unbearable beauty of life around us, along with its troubles. It keeps recreating itself. We can either be lost in a smaller state of consciousness—what in Buddhist psychology is called the “body of fear,” which brings suffering to us and to others—or we can bring the quality of love and appreciation, which I would call gratitude, to life.
Today I will open my eyes to the World around me.
I might look deep into my heart seeking to discover some treasure.
I might look deep into the soul of another seeking to find a friend.
I pledge not to be afraid of the graciousness of others.
I will be grateful for the gift of life, the gift of my life.
Today I will seek to practice gratitude in all my affairs.
I will be inspired by the examples of gratitude touching my heart.