Listening in Humility, Walking Together in Strength

Author: 
Frank Toia
Date: 
Wednesday, January 25, 2017

There were ten of us in our stocking feet sitting on folding chairs around a couple of oblong tables pushed together.  Our shoes were lined up outside the door of this sacred meeting space at Masjidullah, a mosque in the West Oak Lane section of Philadelphia.  We members of the Program Committee, were there to do some planning for the 2017 Philadelphia Interfaith Walk for Peace and Reconciliation. which is scheduled for Sunday Afternoon, April 30, 2017 in the West Oak Lane section of Philadelphia.

It was December first, three weeks after The Election, and that was on everybody’s mind.  The chair of the committee opened our reflection time by reading a blog post which focused on listening to one another with open minds and open hearts during this post-election time. An Imam spoke very eloquently about the trust and confidence needed at this time. A Rabbi shared her conviction that words were not enough; we need to act. A retired social worker spoke of our need to accompany the most vulnerable in our society.  Two high school students entered into the discussion with enthusiasm and concern.

Finally, after about 45 minutes of deep and open conversation, the committee chair invited us to move into the specific tasks of the committee, one of which was to come up with a theme for the 2017 walk.  Remarkably enough, considering the diversity of the committee members, it took only about fifteen minutes to come up with this year’s theme:

Listening in Humility, Walking Together in Strength

First: “Listening in humility…”   Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen, a very wise woman, says that

“The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen.  Just listen.  Perhaps the most important thing we can ever give each other is our attention.”    

If that’s true with our friends and family members and co-workers, it is even more essential when we enter into dialogue with people of different ethnic, religious or cultural backgrounds than our own.  And we walk to “In humility” assuming that the other person has something to teach us and that our friendship has something to offer the world.

Then: “…Walking Together in Strength” … We will be literally walking together on April 30th but there’s also a metaphorical walk that takes place all year long.  That walk we cannot do alone; we need the strength, the courage, the hope and the commitment that comes from companionship.

We hope that you will walk with us on April 30th and we invite you to join in that shared walk to bring peace and justice to our broken and hurting world.