On behalf of our Community I would like to express our happiness in and support for the Common Word initiative. The letter which opened it will no doubt be seen in time to come as a healing and evolutionary milestone in the long and often troubled relationship between our two faiths.
Our own small contribution to this process may be a silent one. In the work of recovering the Christian contemplative tradition for the whole ‘people of God’, not just for the specialists, we have found ourselves led on many fronts into interfaith dialogue. We have learned that there is the necessary level of scholarly dialogue but also that there are other expressions of this desire to know and love each other better with all our differences. There is the dialogue of pilgrimage, visiting each other’s sacred sites. There is the dialogue of action where we suspend our theological exchanges in order to work for the relief of suffering and the promotion of peace and justice. And there is the very powerful dialogue of silence that opens up the possibility of “spiritual friendship” at deeper levels.
We have found that our respective mystical traditions are much closer to the ordinary practitioners of our faiths than their leaders often imagine. Meeting in the common ground of the oneness of God that these traditions reveal is a transformative experience with effects at many levels.
The World Community for Christian Meditation (www.wccm.org) has already participated in several events that bring Muslims and Christians together – “Prayer as Meeting” – sharing both the riches of the mystical literatures and the practice of the prayer of the heart itself. Our next European event will be in Sarajevo in 2009.
I hope we can play our role in supporting this graced and urgent initiative of the Common Word in the years to come.
Laurence Freeman OSB