I have the great privilege of spending a month every summer on the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness area in Northern Minnesota. We have a simple family cabin located on National Forest Service land that is “off-the-grid” with no internet service, electricity or running water. Yet, this simple existence has allowed me to deepen my understanding of and appreciation for interfaith work.
“Up at the cabin” my morning ritual entails going for a vigorous hike among the White Pines and Poplars followed by a quick dip in the cool lake on whose shore our cabin sits. By then I’ve worked up an appetite for breakfast, which I eat on the dock of the lake while spending some time meditating on whatever comes in to view. It’s a view undisturbed by human-made sounds or activity. While meditating I pay attention to both the particulars and also the broader vision of my surroundings. In doing so, I’m struck by how many fascinating and unique individual aspects of creation make up the beautiful landscape.
I’m mesmerized by the ambitious beavers that swim across the lake in search of fresh twigs for their lodge. If they feel threatened by a nearby Loon, they slap their flat leathery tails and the vibrations spread far and wide. I watch the Bald Eagle who perches on the snag on our little island nearby. It stays completely still until it sees a fish jump and then swoops down towards the water to try and catch it to bring back to its fledgling waiting back at the nest. Similarly living their own beautiful lives, the floating Water Lilies surrounding the dock catch my eye as they open and close with the weather conditions and sunlight. Each of these natural wonders is a life unto itself – endowed with dignity and its own life rhythm.
These marvelous entities are unique yet connected and interdependent. Together they make for a magical landscape that showcases the diverse tapestry of divine creation. I associate this experience with a similar sense I have when I’m part of an interfaith event like IFC’s Unity Walk or Interfaith Concert. When I’m among individuals and communities of people who believe and practice different paths to their god or to spiritual enlightenment, I’m awed by the way each path traveled (through prayer, music, attire, food) overlaps and reinforces one another. And, in taking in these unique spiritual traditions side-by-side and intermingled, I get a glimpse of the stunning interfaith wholeness for which we were intended.
–Ann Delorey, IFC Program Director