The Interfaith Peace Project continues its ongoing observance of the International Women’s Day, March 8, by sending you a reflection on the eighth of every month.
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Thomas P. Bonacci, C.P
Continuing to Honor International Women’s Day
by Thomas P. Bonacci, C.P.
When Perlimaa Gavaadandov heard Pope Francis was coming to visit the Church in Mongolia, she tapped into her indigenous roots and prepared to make tea according to the traditions of long ago. She milked the goats, churned the butter, fetched water from the deep well, and cut tea from a block. Upon the Pope’s arrival, she poured out a cup of tea on the ground as she blessed herself and prayed. She splashed the tea on the ground to honor her tradition and prayed in honor of her faith.
Our friend is an intercultural, interreligious, interspiritual practitioner. Perlimma accessed the traditional ways of her culture to express her contemporary faith. She crossed over the borders of time to bless and mark the present moment.
The Catholic population of Mongolia is statistically insignificant, but its people are essential. Francis is famous for recognizing those others do not see. The Pope journeys to the ends of the Earth, announcing a new day of peace and understanding. Perlimma marks the occasion by blessing the Earth with nourishing tea.
On his way to Mongolia, Pope Francis blessed the people of China, calling them “noble.” Even as the Chinese regime continued to be oppressive, Francis offered blessings and goodwill. He urged people to be virtuous and generous.
Gathered in the Mongolian ger, the round-shaped yurt, Francis poured out his soul to welcome Shamans, priests, guests, and many from the diverse interfaith community. The ger / yurt is a powerful symbol of divine harmony, a place of welcome and peace where no one is a stranger.
Francis served up the tea of his heart as he said: “The fact that we are meeting together in one place already sends a message: It shows that the religious traditions, for all their distinctiveness and diversity, have impressive potential for the benefit of society as a whole. If the leaders of nations were to choose the path of encounter and dialogue with others, it would be a decisive contribution to ending the conflicts continuing to afflict so many of the world’s peoples.”
God bless Perlimaa and people like her who are not afraid to be themselves. May they continue to brew the tea of their courage and graciousness. God bless people like Francis who are not afraid to love and bless beyond the borders of hatred, fear, and suspicion.
Blessings to you, Holy Community, for brewing the tea of your love and hope. Thank you for welcoming the stranger, visiting the forgotten, and blessing the Earth with every step you take. How gracious of you to make your heart a place of welcome and peace.