To start with, it was a beautiful day—a great afternoon to spend outside with friends from all over the metro area. My friend, Nancy Allinson, and I were especially pleased to meet up with dear friends from Bethesda Jewish Congregation and All Souls Church Unitarian and to walk together for solidarity and unity for all faiths in the DC Metro Area.

A thousand of us (give or take) gathered at Washington Hebrew Congregation where the opening ceremony was led by Senior Rabbi, M. Bruce Lustig, who urged people of all faiths to work together for social justice and inclusiveness in our community. There was wild applause when D.C. Council member-at-large Elissa Silverman proudly declared Washington, D.C., to be a sanctuary city welcoming immigrants of all faiths and nationalities.

Emphasizing these powerful messages, we heard a wonderful rendition of Woodie Guthrie’s anthem “This Land is Your Land, This Land is My Land” by the Adam’s Beat Chorus. This fantastic group of Muslim young people brought tears to our eyes.

Along our pilgrimage down Massachusetts Avenue, we visited the magnificent St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral with its rich interior and stunning icons, most notably the great image of Christ the Omnipotent high above the sanctuary.

At the Washington, D.C.  Buddhist Cultural Center, we heard an informal talk on the Lotus Sutra and the Nichiren School of Mahayana Buddhism, learned about the basics of the Sokka Gakkai International Buddhist practice, and were fed the most delicious mandarin oranges. I saved one in my pocket for later in the day.

We had great encounters with clergy, nuns and priests at the Apostolic Nunciature of the United States, which is the diplomatic mission of the Vatican to our country. The sisters, who appeared to have all the organizational details of the day’s events well in hand, offered us chocolate chip cookies, ice tea and lemonade. Inside the embassy, we visited its beautiful enclosed garden and chatted with the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, about his role in the United States. He was very pleased to learn that we were from the Cathedral Congregation. Archbishop Pierre said he would be meeting directly with Pope Francis in the next few weeks, and I urged him to ask the Pope to say extra prayers for the United States of America during this turbulent time for our country. He assured me he would.

During our walk down Massachusetts Avenue, it was great to meet up with many friends from the Cathedral Congregation. Our next stop was the Embassy of India Consulate, where we were served samosas, those tasty Indian pastries with potato, onion and spicy filling, together with what all of us agreed was the sweetest dessert pastry we’d ever eaten, but whose name I did not catch.

Our day ended with a moving ceremony at the Islamic Center of Washington, where we heard Muslim prayers and a concluding choral piece from the group Mosaic Harmony. It was a great ending to a terrific day spent with friends and fellow congregation members.

 

Martin Dickinson