The Crossroads of Our Stories
An Interfaith Virtual Experience
Video Introduction by Scott Adams
~ About The Team ~
Rev. Scott Adams
After going on retreat the previous year I was determined to create a like experience for others in the years to come so that people may be exposed to different faith traditions and have an environment that encourages dialog around the subject(s) of interfaith. I am committed to intercultural and interfaith ministry and advocacy; I believe that as citizens of the world, we are together in unity and should promote said unity as opposed to deteriorating it.
I love Loyola for its emphasis on Cura Personalis, a commitment to a holistic approach to life. Students here are dedicated to the consistent care for heart, mind, body and spirit.
I am a co-founder of Faith Zone Fellowship, a club dedicated to interfaith philosophy, meditation and dialogue. I'm also a proud member of Loyola's Chapel Choir and a FAC yoga instructor.
I believe that, in order to truly care for the whole person, we need to care for one another, which includes being active listeners. Campus Ministry is here to cultivate a space where students of all faith backgrounds can hear one another's stories and values, becoming better people as a result.
After participating on Loyola's first annual Interfaith Retreat last year, I knew it was something that I wanted to share with others. The opportunity to lead the retreat as a senior, then, was something I couldn't say no to. As an intern of 3 years in Campus Ministry, the office and the people I have met there have become family to me, and the Interfaith Retreat was an extension of that. While we cannot present the experience to you in person, the entire Interfaith Retreat team―which has been focusing on the intersection at which our stories meet―is proud to bring you a virtual version in the form of this newsletter. We hope you enjoy it!
After being a part of various campus ministry activities like F.I.R.S.T and having an interfaith book club throughout the last three years, this year I worked as an interfaith intern. Interfaith activity is something that is very important to me as I love the ability it has in fostering community. Even though it has been upsetting that we will not be able t have the retreat in person, having this online newsletter is was to continue in building and maintaining this community no matter the difference. One of the most valuable and important things that being a part of this amazing team and engaging in interfaith work has shown me is that by understanding everyone's experiences and stories we can come together and create unity.
It was an honor to build and lead the Interfaith Retreat with so many wonderful people last year. The retreat was one of the most rewarding experiences here at Loyola. While it is a shame that we could not meet in person this year, the Interfaith team was able to come up with a project where each and everyone of us can have a virtual taste of what the retreat could have been. I hope that you all can join with the Interfaith team on a journey to realize your own self worth. And by that realization, you may realize the worth of others and come together to build a community of love and understanding with each other.
I. Realizing Self Worth
We are all, each and every one, unique in the Universe. And that uniqueness is what makes us valuable. ―James A. Owen
Self worth is an internal state of being that comes from self-understanding, self-love, and self acceptance. It It is steady and unflinching, and therefore, holds power to radically transform your life for the better.
Recognize your self worth. Do not let others' words determine who you are. In the next 20 days, we hope you'll use our road map below to go on a journey discovering, or maybe rediscovering, your self worth.
Each day, for the next 20 days, write a small note to yourself using one of the prompts below, making sure to go in order. (There are 20 prompts―one for each day.) Keep these notes somewhere special: a journal, a folder, a drawer, etc. Later, you can use them as a reference if you feel your sense of self fleeting.
These notes can be whatever you want them to be; there is little-to-no structure necessary. They are from you, for you. And if you remember nothing else from these instructions, please remember to be kind to yourself when writing. This is meant to garner a stronger sense of the real you: one who is worth all of your blessings.
Nick and Vina
II. Realizing Worth of Others
The key to a successful community is an understanding of other human beings around one another. Understanding a person's background enables people to appreciate other people through which one can learn to respect the other and vice versa. By acknowledging each other’s talents and gifts, a community can be able to thrive in sharing each others’ presence. We are often blinded by peoples exterior and material differences which lead us to believe that we should be separate and should divide ourselves. There is harm in believing that we should be separate from each other; therefore, we should celebrate our uniqueness as it enables us to learn about and appreciate each other. In order to see and accept these differences, the walls that confine us must be broken down in order to be able to let other people in. Instead of dismissing or misunderstanding our differences, we should unite as fellow human beings. A community is only established when these differences are postively recieved and not used as a basis for prejudice or discrimination. If we can transcend appearances, we can truly flourish from being with each other and supporting one another.
Whether it be physical appearance, material possessions, faith traditions or life experiences people have an intrinsic worth. All persons are equally deserving of respect and dignity through their worth by those in their community and beyond — albeit their differences. In our society it is truly challenging to understand each other simply on their worth as we all live in an environment of superficiality found on social media that affects our daily life. The path to seeing the worth that people have through their faith background, a long journey that involves not only understanding your gifts but what gifts others may have, acknowledging that there is something to learn from everyone's specific faith background. It is also the knowledge that there is never a clear end to this journey but instead feeling of comfort around those who differ from you. For many their idea and understanding of individual worth is directly linked to religious practices and prayer. These practices usually create a strong bond between all of those who share common beliefs but can be isolating to others outside of the inner circle. Specifically, it is not the faith tradition that makes the people in your community your friends and neighbors; it is through realizing their worth and cognizance of their humanity. The Tabernacle of Unity, a revered text in the Bahá'í faith, says:
Turn your faces from the darkness of estrangement to the effulgent light of the daystar of unity www.bahai.org/r/971263797
So therefore we are all one in the eye of the creator and our own image as we should see ourselves in human nature with one another in community.
III. Community Building With Others
Existing within a community is an essential part of the human experience. We find community among our families, friends, school, and groups who share our particular interests and values. Each of these small communities form a layer in life’s communal experience. Our faith community has a particularly important influence on who we are and how we approach life. It provides support for our sense of self worth and our appreciation for those around us.
Faith communities are windows through which we view our world. For many of us, they have been an influence on our lives since we were very young. Even within the context of a religious or spiritual affiliation, we each have a unique relationship with our faith, formed by years of deeply personal experience and our own introspection. Although we may be part of a larger community, we each bring a special individualistic view of faith that contributes to a greater image.
An individual piece of stained glass within the window is beautiful on its own. It has a unique shape, color and texture that make it stand out. An image is only formed, however, when all of the pieces are joined to become something through which we find spiritual insight and inspiration. Stained glass can be found in places of worship across the globe and among a multitude of faith traditions. In Christian, Jewish and Muslim places of worship, they are used not only for their aesthetic qualities, but to tell a story. These stories, rooted in scripture, unite people like the lead that binds each colorful pane of the window. In the context of an interfaith community, our diverse backgrounds and experiences enrich the larger image. The ways in which we are able to maintain a bond are made better by our own uniqueness. No matter where we come from or where we are going, embracing the authenticity of both ourselves and others is the most important tool for community building.
Only when there has been a recognition of one’s own self-worth in addition to the worth of those around them can we put those valuable qualities together like panes of a stained glass window to form a beautiful creation. Each of us only thrives when we are able to share our knowledge and gifts for the benefit of all. We must acknowledge our differences and understand that they are the very foundation of an enriched faith community.