February 4, 2023
Today is the fourth 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
by Thomas P. Bonacci, C.P.
Richard rejoiced in finding some dry cardboard he used as his bed in an abandoned storefront on Geary St. in San Francisco. He made sure he used the discarded materials of other people with care, respect, and gratitude. He always cleaned up after himself. You could see his dignity in his face. He was gentle and kind. Richard is deeply wounded by life.
I was passing by on my way to nowhere in particular. Richard stopped me, asking if I had a minute. He invited me to have tea with him in his doorway accommodations. He said the cardboard was fresh, clean, and dry.
As I sipped the tea, he recited some verses he had composed about a tree he loves. Richard was a former Professor of English Literature who somehow lost his job and now lives on the streets. I was transported by his words and transformed by his kindness. So I became his student, humbly attending the University of Life.
A lovely old tree once sheltered me
A lovely old tree once gave its leaves to me
A lovely old tree once delighted me
Thus did that lovely old tree love me.
Richard of Geary St.
THREE WISE TEACHINGS
Nothing we see or hear is perfect.
But right in the imperfection is perfect reality.
You are never alone.
You are eternally connected with everyone.
Drink your tea slowly and reverently,
as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves
–slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future.”
-Thich Nhat Hanh
Mindfully savor a cup of tea or whatever refreshes you.
Be aware of the beauty of the moment.
Enter into the silence of your heart.
Hear the music of your soul.
Savor the bounty of life in the moment.
Write a poem.
Find a friend to share the moment.