“The Beloved Community is a realistic vision of an achievable society, one in which problems and conflict exist, but are resolved peacefully and without bitterness. In the Beloved Community, caring and compassion drive political policies that support the worldwide elimination of poverty and hunger and all forms of bigotry and violence. The Beloved Community is a state of heart and mind a spirit of hope and goodwill that transcends all boundaries and barriers and embraces all creation.”
~
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
~Fred Rogers

There was a truly Beloved Community in action at a Multi-Faith Listening Session held November 3 at Ascension & Holy Trinity, Wyoming. Faith leaders and congregants from several local faith communities, including the Rev. Eric Miller from Ascension and Holy Trinity, St James of the Valley Catholic Church, Pastor Jason Hentschel from Wyoming Baptist Church, Imam Shaykh Hossam Musa from the Islamic Center of Cincinnati, and Rabbi Sandford Kopnick the Valley Temple all participated, and Jerry Springer served as moderator. (No chairs were thrown and no paternity tests revealed!) Coverage of the event was even featured on the cover of the American Israelite!

The Listening Session was an expansion of a group gathering at Valley Temple, where congregants have been meeting to discuss their thoughts on one question: “What keeps you up at night?” The goal is to listen to others and allow any collective concerns to elicit a collective call to action.

From my perspective, the gathering was poignant and reverent. So many people shared their concerns, which varied widely but were all heard: managing their children’s social media and digital devices, loving LGBTQ people, the country’s financial debts, the racism experienced personally, the fears for family members who wear a hajib, the divided politics of our country, and so much more.

It was wonderful, not the pain experienced by those sharing, of course. But it was wonderful to be in a room where so many different people chose to be there, to listen with care and love and compassion. Amidst all the real fears and concerns, I saw hope for our nation and for our world. If 70 people have the courage to show up and listen with love, then that’s 70 more people who can magnify that love into the world.

There was real interest in doing this again, and I truly hope we do. I’d be willing to bet there are way more than 70 people who want to share, and who want to listen, and who will take that compassion and turn it into action…even if it’s to smile at a stranger, or to intercept a racist comment, or to show support at a rally for justice, or to join a faith community’s efforts to feed or clothe neighbors. Together is how we do it.

Until the next Multi-faith Listening Session occurs, here are a few ways you can enjoy meeting together with members of your community.

The Valley Temple will host a Wyoming Thanksgiving Service at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 22. The spiritual leaders of five Wyoming houses of worship and the Wyoming High School Chorale will participate. A donation of a canned good for the Valley Interfaith Food and Clothing Center is encouraged.

Imam Musa invites us to the Islamic Center of Cincinnati, which offers a “Meet Your Neighbor” where you can take a tour and enjoy refreshments, and ask any questions afterwards. The next one is December 7, and you are encouraged to RSVP via this link: https://icgc.us/tours-and-talks/know-your-neighbor/

Margot Madison is a member of Ascension and Holy Trinity, Wyoming.