News Arboretum

News Arboretum June 15, 2013

Women of Many Faiths had its monthly meeting last night here in Columbia, SC.  We loved being in the home of our Muslim friend Gul, who was hosting the meeting for the first time.  I always enjoy seeing what kind of art, books and bric-a-brac adorn the homes of my friends from other cultures.  Lots of people bring refreshments to share; since I don’t cook much any more, I had a bottle of rosewater to take my hostess, whose name means “rose” in Persian and Urdu languages.

I was a bit apprehensive about the meeting, however.  After years of discussion topics like, “What brings you peace?” or “How do you share love with others,” last night was really and truly going to be “What does your religion say about sex and sexuality?”  Yikes!  While there are some other Pagans in our group, I was the only one present last night.  It’s not my job to impose my feelings about sexuality on others, but after several had shared about the joys of married monogamy and the problems of unmarried sex, I felt obligated to break the logjam.  “I had lots of sex with lots of partners in my life, and had a blast,” I threw out.  I also shared about the Charge of the Goddess, “all acts of love and pleasure”, etc.

After that, I heard the word “fun” used more often.  But the great thing was that this very diverse group talked about a hot-button subject – we didn’t argue, though we disagreed, no one got upset, though some shared some painful experiences.  At the end, we all looked at each other and exclaimed, “We did it!”

Before we broke up for the evening, we talked about an idea that came directly out of Wild Garden.  When fellow blogger Jess Matz and I discovered that we each are part of a similar women’s interfaith group, we immediately began cooking up a plan for some kind of road trip/exchange between the two groups.  Jess’ group wants to know how Women of Many Faiths has kept going for more than 12 years, and here in Columbia we want to meet the people who helped support the controversial Murfreesboro, TN, mosque for the past several years.  Jess and I will keep you posted on this one.

Tomorrow our Sikh gurdwara is holding the grand opening of a beautiful new building.  The prayers started at 9AM this morning.  Tomorrow will be the big ceremonies, visiting dignitaries like our governor (who was raised Sikh in that very temple, though she is now Christian) and most of us on the board of Interfaith Partners of South Carolina.  Whatever I wear, I will be woefully underdressed beside the gorgeously-colored saris and kurtas of the other women.  On Sunday, my Pagan group Osireion is hosting a picnic with small discussion groups in our favorite park.  It’s probably the last time we’ll want to be outside a lot around here – the temperatures have already been over 100 at my house.  We are going to talk about compassion, what does it look like, do we always have to do something to be living it, and how can we bring more compassion to South Carolina.  Some of our members really want to become involved with the Charter for Compassion project, so I am hoping this may plant seeds in fertile ground.

Sadly, a dear friend passed on Thursday, so I’ll be spending the second part of my day Saturday at a Lutheran church for his funeral.  This congregation has been notable in Columbia in the past decade for its reconciling congregation program.  I feel somewhat at home there because I was raised Lutheran.  In spite of my having left Christianity behind many years ago, these are still my roots, and there are many things about the Lutherans of which I’m proud, including the fact that they just elected a first-ever openly gay bishop.

Now to find the right scarf to wear to the gurdwara on Saturday . . .


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