I realized this morning that I’ve had a lovely sort of “ecumenical” kind of week. Merriam Webster defines that word as “of, relating to, or representing the whole of a body of churches“. So often, I find myself engaged in Catholic micro-culture here in the blogosphere that I forget about how many folks are out there immersed in their own faith traditions just like me.
On Sunday, I spent the better part of the day after Mass playing Mah Jongg (the real kind, not the computer game) with forty Jewish ladies at our local temple. About twice a month, I play with a close group of friends. Of the six of us, I’m the only non-Jew. Around our Mahj table I’ve learned so very much about the Jewish traditions of my own faith. To be surrounded on Sunday with such a broad age range of new Jewish friends was such a blessing. At my last table, I sat with a fifteen year old high school sophomore who was the only young man brave enough to venture in with all of those ladies. The time we spent together intrigued me in a way I can barely describe. I’m used to teens, but here was a young man — a Rabbi’s son no less — who amazed me with his level of knowledge, his cordiality, and his conviction for his faith. To top it all off, he beat the pants off of me at the tournament.
Last night, my week of interfaith blessings continued when I sat down to dinner with three new friends, leaders in a Pentecostal church. I’ll share my “super secret project” in a few weeks, but needless to say I think this is the first time I’ve dined with Pentecostals. Before our meal and an extended conversation, we had the chance to pray together. Over a great meal, we shared stories of our mutual Churches, but not at all in a “mine is better than yours — come on over!” fashion. There was no pressure to defend, to argue or to convince… simply a faith-sharing between believers and an honest conversation about some of our mutual challenges.
Weeks like this one make me wonder how often I’m missing out on the opportunity to learn, to grow, and to appreciate. I’m reminded that there are blessings in every opportunity to engage and to make new friends. Those moments are simply mine for the taking…
A question for you: How often do you engage with friends of other faith traditions?