"What is most needed for us to heal as a human race is for us to gather in community in safe spaces that allow our hearts to be open so we may speak freely and offer a non-judgemental presence for listening deeply to others." Excerpt from the Charter for Compassion World Interfaith Harmony
The last time I was a part of something like this, I was 24 and in seminary.
One of my professors invited me to come with him to an ecumenical event in a near-by town, whatever that was!
As I look back, I think he must have noticed the path I was on better than I did at that time.
For those that are like I was and have no idea what an ecumenical event is, it's a fancy way of saying: A time where a whole bunch of different faiths get together and see if they can get along and find common ground.
My professor was taking a risk by asking me to come along with him to this because it would have been frowned on by our school as somewhat inappropriate and maybe even, dare I say it, potentially heretical!
The school I attended was an Evangelical seminary with beliefs and practices that would not have been congruent with other faiths and traditions, at least not as far as being at a mixer together!
You know the deal.
At that time in my life, I had a lot going on.
I was trying hard to make my life measure up to what I thought it was supposed to look like. I was trying very hard to make everything, including me, feel good enough.
In all my efforts to be a good enough dad, man, student, husband, and Christian, and have the right marriage, family, and vocation, I missed a massive and fundamental truth that my heart kept trying to get me to look at.
I was being too fricking hard on myself and everyone around me.
Below that urgent, worried striving was a reservoir of anxiety, fear, and self-loathing that I hoped would disappear once I did enough, checked the boxes, and accomplished what I felt like I was on the planet to do.
I was an ego-maniac with an inferiority complex that was hiding a frightened child.
During the event, the leader broke us into pairs to answer the question:
What do you believe is the common ground that different traditions can meet on?
I was partnered with an older priest from a denomination I can't remember.
My answer was the Nicene Creed because my theology professor had just introduced it as my course outline, so I knew that had to be right.
At that time, I believed that the creed covered all the doctrinal truths that anyone who believes in the one true God should have, in my not-so-humble opinion.
The priest looked at me thoughtfully and then at the ground and only said that did not feel right for him.
I couldn't believe it. I honestly had no idea how anyone who believed in God could not believe in that creed as a common ground.
I was so taken aback that I didn't even hear his answer. I rushed off to join the group that I came and sat stewing in what had just happened.
The priest was reflecting back to me my own inability to fit into the image and life that I was trying to make myself fit into. When he confronted me with his clarity, his conviction, and his compassion, it scared the crap out of me.
It wasn't his words. It was his presence.
That was 30 years ago, and I realize that that man and I had a lot more in common than I thought.
I count him with the hundreds of others who had loved me along my journey with their presence, kindness, and compassion, especially when I did not deserve it.
When I think about him and the many others that experienced that version of me, I wish that I could see them and thank them for what I didn't notice at the time.
I can't do that, but I can express my gratitude by doing for others what they did for me.
I can choose curiosity and compassion no matter what.
I can love people even when they don't love themselves, especially when that feels hard.
This week my family and I celebrate World Interfaith Harmony Week in conjunction with the Charter for Compassion by sharing one of the forms of worship we practice called the Family Call.
This is a weekly call to spend time connecting to ourselves, each other and our higher power.
We usually do the call on Sunday mornings at 11:00 AM PST, but this week, for the first time, we'll be sharing the call in a free webinar to celebrate World Interfaith Harmony Week with the Charter for Compassion.
Trace Hobson lives in British Columbia, Canada, and spends his time teaching people from all walks of life how to create a safe space in their meetings with each other.
Trace facilitates a Free 5-day Safe-Space Gathering where people can learn the step-by-step process for creating a safe space for themselves and the people they want to serve.
If there is an upcoming Safe Space Gathering look on the margin of this page and there will be a registration for dates this month, but if not...
Click below to find out about the next dates:
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You'll leave the session renewed, re-energized and inspired to create a powerful team that helps more people, increases profits, and eliminates stress for everyone, ESPECIALLY you! So that you can finally achieve the goals that you have for your work, your business, and your life.
To claim this special coaching session simply fill out the form below and click submit. Once we receive your application we will reach out to arrange a time to meet.