This I Believe

eleanor - alameda, California
Entered on August 8, 2006
Age Group: 65+

This I Believe

I was brought up to think that people who did not follow my religion would go to hell but down deep I needed to know more about other people and their spiritual paths-I knew that the God of my adult understanding just couldn’t be as narrow as the teachings of my childhood.

The year 1993 changed my life. I was given a flyer for a gathering called The Parliament of the World’s Religions. I had no idea what it was all about; I just knew I had to be there. I read that it would be an interfaith gathering but never realized there would be thousands of people from all over the world, from every religion I knew about and those I had never heard of coming together to sign a global ethic. While there I heard a talk about the Sacred Wheel as a metaphor for the world. One of the organizers, Jim Kenny, talked about the people of the world being like a wheel. The rim symbolizing the place we do our rituals and read our holy books, the place where we see the most separation. The spokes showing us as individuals, just as the spokes converge, if we listen, if we can talk to each other and hear each other we can also see a convergence, see our similarities, The hub represents the mystery we all share. If we throw out any part of the wheel it will become weak and fall apart, and not be able to move forward. I went home with a new symbol of how the world could work together. I also took home a tape of this talk and started to learn about world religions, little did I know that my life would be forever changed Not long after this gathering I started to string bead necklaces and came to discover that the word bead comes from the Anglo Saxon bidden which means to pray, not to pray as a Christian, a Jew, a Muslim or a Hindu just to pray. I had the opportunity to realize how many diverse traditions used prayer beads to bring them closer to the divine. I started creating interfaith prayer beads, beads that were inclusive and not exclusive, beads that any one could use to bring them into the present moment. In 1999 I created a mandala that honored all people, based on Jim’s talk, on the outer edge of the wheel I have printed the words “A Place to Begin”. I believe that we all must find where we begin on the wheel and keep the wheel moving forward in peace. I believe that opening myself to know others as individuals, as spokes on the wheel of life allows me to move forward peace.