Bahai News -- Service weaves many faiths LOCAL NEWS

Service weaves many faiths

By Betsy Levinson / Staff Writer
Thursday, December 5, 2002

The annual interfaith Thanksgiving eve service was held at a packed Kerem Shalom this year, complete with drums and freestyle dancing, as well as readings from religious texts and singing.

"We come together in gratitude for our blessings at this time of harvest," said Rabbi Michael Luckens, of the host temple. "We are in community at this moment." Cantor Rosalie Gerut sang prayers.

The Skyloom Dancers performed a "harvest dance," weaving their way around the front of the sanctuary carrying dried stalks of wheat.

Six women made up the troupe, including Shirley Blancke, Eva Herndon, Pamela Landi, Ruth Leiberherr, Elaine Sissler and Sybille Volz. The Skyloom Dancers is an interfaith and intergenerational group that performed at the end of the service as well.

Abla Shocair read from the Koran in Arabic, giving a brief translation for the crowd. The annual service rotates among faith communities every year, with ministers contributing prayers and thoughts.

Native American Jimi Two Feathers said Thanksgiving is a "day of mourning" for the Wampanoag people from which he is descended, and indeed for all native peoples who have been exploited from the 17th century onward.

Two Feathers, a Concord resident with his wife Morwen and their children, said there are men and women from the tribe who spend Thanksgiving at Plymouth Rock "having a teach-in" about the tragedy that befell his people with the arrival of the Pilgrims, followed by a communal pot luck supper at sundown.

Jimi and Morwen played a rhythmic drum piece from Nigerian drum master Babatunde Olatunji with the Earthdrum Council, and encouraged those who felt the spirit to dance.

"We very much hope if you are moved to do so, you will dance," said Two Feathers as he started the rhythm.

Several children and adults popped up to sway to the drumbeat. Soon, a long conga line formed and snaked its way through the rows of chairs, joyfully chanting along with the quickening beat.

Christian Scientist Robert Holcomb led the group in a "communal reading" from the writings of Rev. Dana McLean Greeley, former minister of the First Parish in Concord, followed by a reading from the Bible by Rich Yamartino of the Bahai Faith.

Zen Buddhist Priest and Sensai, or teacher, Sheila LaFarge led a guided meditation on food.

"I entrust myself to the earth, and the earth entrusts itself to me," she said in her invocation. "Over 2,000 years ago, Buddha called for an end to animal sacrifice, and asked his followers to meditate on them and their plight." She said, however, that Buddhism is not a rigid faith, and that Buddhists are called upon to eat whatever is served to them "with gratitude."

LaFarge called on the worshippers to think on the seeds that were planted for the Thanksgiving meal, the farmer who "worried about the weather," the grocer and truck driver who made the food available, even the shelf stockers and checkout people at the supermarkets.

"Think about all these people and their lives, the fishermen, the bakers, and think on the astonishing interconnection among all people," she said.

©Copyright 2002, The Concord Journal (Waltham, MA, USA)


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