Sunday, November 08, 2009

The Power of Women


I was urged by an elderly member of Temple Micah to attend an “afternoon tea and discussion” hosted by Women of Faith, an interfaith group that has been in existence in the DC area for over 30 years.  I went somewhat out of a feeling of obligation, but came away with my eyes opened.

I happened to be seated across the table from Maudine Cooper (pictured above), the afternoon’s speaker and also the President of the Greater Washington Urban League.  She gave us a historical perspective of her organization and charged us to do something to make a difference in the world.  She suggested that it might be something as insignificant as saying hello to people we meet on the street, in the Metro, and in the grocery store.

As we broke into small group discussions, I noted that my table was a mixture of Baptists, Catholics, Muslims, and Jews.  It couldn’t get much more diverse.

We focused a lot on the idea that what we teach our children can make all the difference in the world.  If they are taught respect and tolerance for everyone around them, if they are taught to love instead of to hate, so much of the divisiveness in the world will simply disappear.  One person mentioned that many of us need to teach our parents and our elders the same lessons.

We remarked at how similar we really are, despite our different races and religions.  As each table got up to report on their discussion, it was obvious that many of the same discussions had taken place.

To close the afternoon of thoughtful reflection, we stood in a big circle holding hands and offered a communal prayer with various women offering up spontaneous thoughts and the group responding with AMEN in between.  I clasped the hand of a soft-spoken African-American in my left hand and an outspoken Jew in my right hand.  But as far as the circle went, they were both just women of faith.

As the result of the afternoon’s discussions, I plan to get to know my neighbors better, inviting them over for an afternoon tea.  I suddenly realized that some of them have lived in my neighborhood for quite a few years and I still don’t know their names.  It was the suggestion of 89-year-old Dorothy that planted the seed for this idea.

I also plan to pursue a joint choir project with the music director of the Shiloh Baptist Church, hoping to blend some Jewish melodies with some Gospel sounds. 

Even my shelter kids may benefit from the afternoon.  The Urban League speaker offered to donate Scholastic books that have been given to their organization for just such a purpose.

I look forward to the next meeting of this group, which will undoubtedly be in a mosque or church.  This obligation turned into a pleasant surprise.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Loved reading about the constructive actions that are arising from this meeting! You continue to build community around you; it's inspiring.

F.

5:51 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

What a great way to spend the afternoon. You do the most interesting things!

9:08 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

Interesting! Sounds like a great opportunity for learning! I need to get to know my neighbors better too...I say hi to them in the halls but some of them I don't even know.

12:23 PM  

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