This past Sunday I conducted a Universal Worship Service for our monthly gathering of the Sufi Healing Circle of Atlanta. This was my “inaugural” service after returning from Sarasota, Florida, where I completed the 12-month program in Spiritual Caregiving and advanced from an Associate Cherag (minister) to a fully-ordained Cherag. (Scroll down to the entry dated October 11th to read more.)
The service on Sunday was an experimental form, with a focus on healing. A candle was lit for each religion represented on the altar (each candle lit from the same “God candle” in the center), but instead of reading from each tradition’s scriptures, we focused on the healing gift that each religion offers.
For Hinduism, we invoked the healing light of Divine Wisdom.
For Buddhism, the healing light of Divine Compassion.
For the Zoroastrian religon, the healing light of Divine Purity.
For the Native American traditions, the healing light of Divine Nature.
For the Divine Feminine and Goddess traditions, the healing light of Divine Love.
For Taoism, the healing light of Divine Harmony.
For Judaism, the healing light of Divine Covenant.
For Christianity, the healing light of Divine Self-Sacrifice.
For the religion of Islam, the healing light of Divine Unity.
After each candle was lit, we paused to let that healing light be kindled in our hearts. We asked ourselves silently what areas of our lives were in need of that particular healing quality. Then, as we felt comfortable sharing, we spoke aloud those prayers.
It was an amazing time of sharing in prayer together, a time of getting to know the hearts of each other. The service concluded with a Sufi blessing in dance form, led beautifully by Jacob Kabb:
May the Blessing of God rest upon you;
may God’s Peace abide with you;
may God’s Presence illuminate your hearts
now and for evermore. Amen.
And then – everyone just sat there. No one wanted to leave when the service was over, and no one did leave for quite a while. The spirit of blessing was as strong, as palpable, as it had been a few Sundays before, when I had been ordained as a Cherag in Sarasota. I feel tremendously blessed to have experienced it, and I feel very grateful that our Sufi community in Atlanta is so open-hearted and receptive to such a comforting and healing Presence.
I feel like we were able, for a wonderful moment, to experience the deeper Reality behind the different religions represented by the candles on the altar.
That experience, to me, is the heart of true mysticism.
My dear friend Carl McColman has recently signed a contract with a publisher to write a new book on Christian mysticism. (This is great news; it has been way too long since Carl has written a book!) He recently asked the readers of his blog, The Website of Unknowing
, what mysticism means to them. This was my response:Mysticism is that which enables us time-bound creatures to experience, for however fleeting a moment, the eternal.
Mysticism is the experience of “eternity in our hearts” (Ecclesiastes 3:11).
Mysticism is the Reality behind the dogma, the deeper Truth beyond our creeds.
Mysticism is that which enabled the Dalai Lama and Thomas Merton to meet in the 1960’s and to recognize each other as brothers.
On this Thanksgiving Day, I find myself grateful to have friends and loved ones – Sufi, Christian, Pagan, Jewish, Buddhist, and “other” – who are in touch with that Reality and who bring such blessing to my life.
Grateful BearThe Meister Eckhart quote above is from explorefaith.com