Thursday, 8 June,evening: Part two of a day of Interfaith connections
I was fortunate with my transport connections when I returned from the Interfaith Marriage & Families Consultation at Birkbeck. I managed to get back to a warm and sunny Oxford around 6pm, which gave me time enough to grab an iced fruit crush at 'Coffee Republic' and then join the peace walk gathering at the Oxford Synagogue, which was the starting point.
It was not difficult to spot with hundreds of white balloons floating above the crowd. The format of the evening's event was simple: it consisted of prayers, refreshments and walking. At it was focused on the Middle East, it had naturally an emphasis on the 'Abrahamic Faiths' of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. However, among the generally greater numbers this year, I could discern quite a few more Buddhists, including a monk from Thrangu House, and a monk and nun chanting and striking a peace drum from the Nippon Myohoji temple in Milton Keynes plus several members of Rissho Kosei-Kai.
The organisation, mainly through St.Mary's Church, was marvellous, especially considering that the original date was around the 24th May (which actually turned out to be rain soaked) so everything had to be rescheduled from scratch.
It's a light-hearted walk, a much needed contrast to the dark heavy clouds that hang gloomily, seldom alleviated by any of the mass media. As we went along, we even got waves from the University's Central Admin offices. It would be nice if somehow you could keep hold of the good will and develop projects then and there. Although this doesn't happen (yet), there are many conncetions and people make new friends.
For myself, I bumped into Chris, new intern for the International Interfaith Centre, with whom I hope to share some ideas about developing the IIC Web site - it's time to overhaul it's ancient design of more than 8 years old, whilst keeping it informative and maintainable. At about the same time I met Martin, who it turned out had written a letter in the Oxford Magazine, to which I had wanted to respond. Now I could do so in person! We chatted a little about where there are special places in churches for meditation etc.
On a more domestic note, I connected with one of artists in Art Weeks, who has Austrian ancestry and she was sharing important information about Sacher Torte (chocolate patisserie) in Vienna - there is apparently the officially designated coffee shop, but that's not where you can find the best! As we came along Broad Street, an elderly Lancastrian lady came along to join us - she couldn't walk very far "unless the weather's cold" so just accompanied us to Radcliffe Square, in front of St. Mary's. I think this was typical for the day.
We proceeded down the High [caused a few traffic jams], and finished at the Central Mosque, where there were further prayers and plenty of refreshments. Gradually the crowd dispersed, the white balloons to be seen scattered across the city as people wended their way home.