Written by Kitty Lu
Translated by H.B. Qin
Edited by Patrick McShane
For the second time, Tzu Chi had the honor to participate in the National Day of Prayer celebration in Alameda County, California. Event organizers invited leaders from different religious groups to pray together for the United States, humanity, and the world, in interfaith harmony transcending each group’s beliefs.
A Sign Language Song Praying for the World
People across the United States have been feeling the effects of global warming, climate change, and natural disasters in recent years. Tragedies like mass shootings have also impacted and hurt communities in many states. Master Cheng Yen has constantly emphasized the need for sincere prayer in addition to vegetarianism. Therefore, this event has a special meaning for Tzu Chi volunteers and members of many faiths, and the Tzu Chi volunteers participating were proud to perform sign language songs to pray for the United States and the world.
Early in the morning on May 4, Tzu Chi USA Northwest Region volunteers traveled from Fremont and Pleasanton, California, to support the event. They gathered in the parking lot and practiced, hoping that seeing their sign language song would be a beautiful experience for everyone in attendance.
David Haubert, Alameda County Supervisor, who convened the event, said, “The National Day of Prayer, enacted by the U.S. Congress in 1952, has been a day of prayer for the nation every year since its inception. It is hoped that this day will unite the nation in prayer and reflection.”
Thanks for Bringing Us Together
Tzu Chi USA Northwest Region Executive Director Minjhing Hsieh said, “The United States is a very diverse society, with a variety of different religions. We take this opportunity to interact with various religions and express the spirit of religious integration so that Tzu Chi can pray for world peace together with so many different religions. We found it very meaningful!”
At the start of the prayer, religious leaders from many faiths, including Protestant Christianity, Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and others, took the stage to lead the people in prayer in the way of their faith.
The Eastern Orthodox priest prayed: “We thank the Lord that all of us can be together in the United States.” The Hindu representatives led the crowd in chanting “Peace” in Sanskrit, praying for peace to be sown in this sacred universe, leading us from darkness to light and praising harmony.
The Dharma Master from Fa Yun Chan Temple in Oakland led the public in prayer: “Thank you for the United States, a nation that provides a great platform for different peoples, religions, and cultures of the world to be free, autonomous, equal, and shared. More importantly, we will work together to maintain social harmony and peace for humanity through the fine traditions of all peoples and the Bodhisattva spirit of interfaith support, compassion, and wisdom.”
A Touching Sign Language Prayer
Unlike members of other organizations, Tzu Chi volunteers, led by Tzu Chi USA Northwest Region Executive Director Minjhing Hsieh, slowly walked down the steps to the music, arranged themselves in formation, and performed “Love and Care for All” in sign language to pray for America. Many attendees took out their cell phones to record this moving scene.
Tzu Chi volunteer Eileen Chen said: “There really is a lot of suffering in the world, and many refugees are displaced by conflicts. It is hoped that love can be conveyed through the sign language song ‘Love and Care for All’, and soothe people. I was very touched to attend this prayer because I saw all the religious groups praying not only for our country but for the whole world.”
Tzu Chi volunteer Sherry Wang remarked: “It was very moving to see people from different religions praying for world peace and peace of mind. After all, religion is the best way to soothe the heart.”
After the prayer, many people wished it hadn’t ended so soon, so they came to talk with the volunteers, asking them which organization they belonged to and hoping to have the opportunity to learn more about Tzu Chi. Although people are of different religions, ethnicities, and languages, love is universal and transcends all divisions.