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Thursday, May 9, 2013

Nevada Desert Experience: Interfaith perspectives

(Creech Air Force Base in Nevada)
In the New York Albany Friends Meeting May 2013 Newsletter, Jen Illenberg writes that the Nevada Desert Experience (NDE) "was easily one of the most profound experiences of my life."

Illenberg describes the NDE as a "Sacred Peace Walk" that draws "attention to the nuclear dangers that continue to threaten our sacred planet and the community of life."  Although many see peace activism as a political movement, Jen mainly focuses upon the spirituality that sustains it.  After all, "the peace that passeth understanding" is what lies at the very core of most religious traditions.

One of the major points that Illenberg makes concerns the immanent beauty of the desert.  While engaging in a Shoshone Sunrise Ceremony each morning, she was quite inspired by the prayers for Mother Earth and all of Her community (including air, water, plants and animals).  Jen had rarely connected as strongly to the notion that the "Earth needs us to pray to it," and her primal response was "Wow!!!"

Then there were the times when "Buddhists, Hindus, Protestants, Catholics, Pagans, Jews, Humanists, Native Shoshones, and Quakers" all joined hands to pray together before meals.  Traditions, rituals and beliefs were shared "with complete acceptance and respect."  These included Sanskrit songs from the Vedas, a Jewish Seder, and Buddhist prayer beads.  Yoga was also practiced on most mornings.

Illenberg equated these desert gatherings with "the biblical idea that we could create the Kingdom of God here on Earth."  She reported that they had "created utopia, a small society in which everyone has value, our diversity is our strength, all are equal and we are united by our beliefs on non violence."

She sees this "utopia" not as an end in itself, but rather as a new beginning for her overall life and relationships.

"Jen's Nevada Desert Experience."  Albany Friends Meeting Newsletter May 2013.

Copyright May 9, 2013 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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