Thankfulness in every known faith tradition, a peculiar blessing
There it was, peace on earth: Jews, Muslims, Protestants, Mormons, Catholics, Buddhists, Brahma Kumaris and assorted others hanging out together around bountiful breakfast tables and offering prayers in every known faith tradition. . . beginning with an Ohlone Prayer in the Four Directions because “we acknowledge we are on the unceded ancestral homeland of the Ramaytush Ohlone . . .”
OK, it’s San Francisco.
But in addition to all that doom loop stuff you’ve been reading about, in the City of St Francis there is a powerful interfaith community that works and shares and agitates for good even when it’s not being called upon to fight a specific instance of antisemitism or racial violence or Palestinian hate (or homelessness.) The several hundred gathered for this purely celebratory event were members and supporters of the San Francisco Interfaith Council, now in its 35th year.
The 23rd Annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Prayer Breakfast happened in the early morning of Tuesday the 21st, and for those few hours there was peace. And a lot of joy, some hearty group singing, minimal politicking (in San Francisco, politics manage to sneak in everywhere) and a closing song with accompanying harp.
In the beginning: after that acknowledgment was read, local Ohlone Andrew Galvin (whose day job is curator of Old Mission Dolores) explained he was not of the Ramaytush Language — Ohlone tribes of old identified with the separate languages they spoke — but it mattered not. Galvin helped us express gratitude to the grandfather spirits of North, South, East and West — plus Earth and Sky. How can you miss?
Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi (Author photo)
Politics only mildly intervened, with Nancy Pelosi — referred to among this gathering as ‘Speaker,’ and don’t bother with the ‘Emerita’ — quoting a little scripture and a little St Francis. Plus, the Mayor spoke, because that’s what mayors do.
But about that closing song — “Blessings Upon Blessings ” — a solo/sing-along which has been traditional for this occasion since long pre-pandemic. The singer was my Brahma Kumaris friend Sr Elizabeth, whom you might have seen onstage as Snow White in Beach Blanket Babylon a few decades back. She has the voice of an angel, even when not accompanied by a fellow Brahma Kumari harpist.
The author with Brahma Kumaris friends Sr Sukanya and Sr Elizabeth
I could be a Brahma Kumari — if I could sit still long enough. They believe in stillness and meditation and peace, plus, they have women leaders. As a finale to this event Sr Elizabeth’s traditional send-off captured the spirit of the occasion:
“Blessings Upon Blessings” is about being friends, understanding one another, living in peace, all those quaint notions that appear from time to time as possibilities. This was just one time to celebrate possibilities, among a multitude of good folks from a multitude of faiths.
I’m thankful for the celebration, and the multitudes.