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Recently Christians around the world marked the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in a variety of ways. Joint services were observed and conversations held, and a delicate dance that so often accompanies such endeavours begins: the one where we must confront any ignorance we have of those outside our spiritual traditions. This happens to all of us but particularly among white and Western Anglicans, who are notoriously ambivalent about discussing religious faith in explicit terms.

We say we’re afraid of being unintentionally hurtful, and that’s true, but it’s also because we so rarely confront our own lack of knowledge about other faiths, or even our own! So many of us go to church without knowing why we do the specific things that we do. Those of us who are clergy often become so enamored of the intricacies of our faith that we sometimes forget to meaningfully share what we know, or we don’t do it in a way that’s helpful.

It’s important to have these conversations about what it means to be a Christian now, in 2022, in God’s beautiful and broken world. It is only when we make these conversations, respectfully held, a part of our regular practice of devotion that we can even come close to reaching outside the walls of our many diverse churches and communities to those who worship in other faiths and traditions. But most important of all is the necessity for these conversations to be grounded in shared prayer. In prayer, we engage not only with our minds, but our hearts and bodies.

In my work with the intentional community of Hineni House, I’ve encountered young people at many different stages of their faith journeys, and we talk candidly about our struggles and delights within and without the traditions in which we were raised and those we took on as adults for ourselves. I’ve encouraged them to share words they attribute to the divine presence. This led one resident to reflect that God might be like a mushroom, with mycelia that stretch out, connecting everything in a way that cannot be easily detected above ground, but can be felt within.

I found this image so powerful that I now use it every time we gather to open our time of prayer. May this prayer enrich your reflection as we pray for greater understanding and unity between people of all faiths:

“If You are the God of the Bible, you have promised to always seek covenant with us.

If You are a mushroom God, surely your mycelia connect all living things, and so surely You can feel our need running through your incredible connected hyphae of life.

And if You are vast and beyond our comprehension, surely we are not incomprehensible to You, and so perhaps it is possible that our deepest needs are known to You.

We invite you to be in relationship with us.

We turn our hearts toward You, whoever and wherever You are, in the hopes that we may become closer to You, and thereby participate in your dream for the world.