INTERFAITH EXPLORERS
July 2022 NEWSLETTER
Interfaith Connection Podcast
"Zoroastrianism – The Foretelling of Christianity"
with Rev. Dave & Rachel Lyman
July features an in-depth conversation with Greg Voelm, noted historian and best-selling author. He has appeared in the New York Times and has lectured at Berkeley, The University of San Francisco, and the University of California, Davis. Greg gave a presentation to the Men of Spirit group at Spiritual Life Center on Zoroastrianism, a little-known 4,000 year-old-faith tradition which was the foretelling of Christianity.

Zoroastrianism is one of the oldest faith traditions on Earth – and yet little is known about it. We explore this faith tradition’s dual cosmology of good and evil. Many of the concepts from the Zoroastrian faith were adopted by the Abrahamic religions. The three wise men- call Magi - were Zoroastrian Priests on a journey to honor Jesus and the birth of Christianity.
AUGUST 2022 MAJOR RELIGIOUS HOLY DAYS & CULTURAL OBSERVANCES

August 1
Lughnasadh – Pagan and Wiccan
Lughnasadh is a festival in the Pagan and Wiccan religions to mark the beginning of the harvest season.
 
August 8
Hijri – Islam
Hijri is known as the Islamic New Year. Muslims around the world use the Islamic Calendar (also known as the Lunar or Hijri Calendar) to determine the dates of religious events and observances. The 2022 Islamic calendar is based on 12 lunar months and a new month begins when a new moon is sighted.
 
August 9
International Day – Indigenous People
August 9 was created as an International Day of Celebration by the United Nations to honor the cultures of Indigenous peoples around the world.
 
August 15
Feast of the Assumption – Christianity
The Feast of the Assumption is a holy day that commemorates the Virgin Mary being assumed, body and soul, into heaven.

August 18
Birth of Lord Krishna (Janmashtami) - Hinduism
August 18 celebrates the birth of one of the most popular deities in the Hindu faith – Lord Krishna – and it is celebrated with a great festival called a Puja. The Vedanta Society of Sacramento will be having their annual Krishna Puja on the evening of August 20, 2o22 which is open to the public. See Newsletter section “Interfaith Adventures” for more information.
 
August 31
Ganesh Chaturthi – Hinduism
Ganesh Chaturthi is a festival celebrating the birth of Lord Ganesha, the God of new beginnings and a fresh start.
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Reference: Various interfaith & Diversity calendars. The information presented may be subject to errors and omissions. Any edits will be shared in next month's newsletter.
GOD MOMENTS
By Rev. Dave Lyman

Last month in our newsletter we had a wonderful story by Pat Orner who shared divinely inspired moments with a man of another faith. We now realize that we need a new sharing segment, so each month we will include a column called ‘God Moments.’ 

God Moments occur to all of us. They come out of nowhere and point out how closely aligned with Spirit we are. They are clear messages of God’s presence in our lives.

So this month I will share a God Moment. Early in the 2000’s I traveled to Chico on a Friday/Saturday for the wedding of one of my partners in our construction company. I took a dear friend and we checked into our rooms on Friday mid-day and prepared to go out for dinner. 
Chico is a college town and much of the downtown area is within walking distance so off we went walking. It was a Friday night in early June and the town was packed with students enjoying themselves.
My friend and I were looking for a particular restaurant as we wandered downtown surrounded by students. 

During the entire afternoon, we had been debating, ‘how do we know that God really loves us?’ We argued back and forth about the issue of knowing with absolute clarity that God loves us. As we debated and walked, a group of students walked toward us - both men and women. As they came up to us, one of the young men stopped us and said, “May I ask you a question?” I replied “Only if you give us directions to this restaurant” and showed him the name of the restaurant on the paper we carried.

He looked at the paper and proceeded to give clear directions to a restaurant location some three blocks away. Then he looked at both of us and said, “I want to share with you that I know for a fact that God absolutely loves you with no reservation or hesitation. Have a good evening!”

Then they walked off. 

We stood with our mouths open and speechless. Then we looked at each other and burst out laughing. I looked up into the heavens and stated out loud, “OK, we get it – you can’t answer us any more clearly!”

This was my God moment when out of nowhere we received a clear message of love.

So each month we will share someone’s God moment when spirit reminds us that we are not alone. 

Share your moment by sending your God Moments to: Rev Dave at tigger1@surewest.net so we can share them in our newsletter. 
Thanks so much!
REGIONAL INTERFAITH EVENTS
Interfaith Council of Greater Sacramento
For information on other regional interfaith events during August 2022 in the Greater Sacramento region, go to the ICGS - Newsletter link below.

Interfaith Council of Elk Grove
For information on regional events during August 2022 in the Elk Grove area, go to their Facebook page. (website still in development)

Interfaith Council of Elk Grove (ICEG)
Prayer Devotional Event
Friday, August 12 - 12:30 to 1:00pm
Flyer below:
INTERFAITH ADVENTURES
FIELD TRIP REPORT

June 25, 2022 – Vedanta Society of Sacramento
By: Rachel Lyman

We knew it would be another warm day in Sacramento, so we organized the field trip to Vedanta Society of Sacramento to begin at 10:00am. Fifteen people came out for the tour. We met our guide, Mr. Steve Johnson, a Vedanta Society Board member and Hindu devotee. After taking a group photo, we were given a copy of a walking map of the Garden of Saints area. The tour began at an obelisk which marks the entrance to the Garden of Saints. Etched on each side of the obelisk are quotes from Hindu Vivekananda. Before we began the tour, however, many of us were distracted by the beautiful lotus blossoms in the pond nearby. So, Mr. Johnson suggested we take time to look at the pond first, which was included as part of the tour of the grounds. (Each June, lotus flowers bloom in this pond, and it becomes a treasured place to visit - especially for local photographers such as myself who want to capture the beauty of these amazing flowers.) 
 
After we regrouped Mr. Johnson led us to the first statue. The shrines in the Garden of Saints tour include: St. Francis of Assisi (Christian), Sri Krishna (Hindu), Guru Nanak (Sikh), Shankaracharya (Indian Mystic), Shiva (Hindu), Moses (Jewish/Christian/Islam), Zarathustra (Zoroastrianism), Our Lady of Guadalupe (Catholic) and Sri Chaitanya (Hindu). After touring each shrine area, we headed east to the Temple.
 
Inside the Temple, Mr. Johnson identified images of spiritual leaders hung above the altar. Upon exiting the Temple, we found display panels from the “Darshana” national Hindu religious and cultural exhibit that had been set up along the walkway. Two representatives from this exhibit were present to answer any questions we might have about the panels. (I found out later that Swami Prapannananda, who was one of the dignitaries to bless this exhibit when it began its national tour, had made special arrangements for us to see the exhibit as part of our field trip experience.) After viewing the exhibit panels, we were then invited into the community room for refreshments where Swami Prapannananda was waiting to graciously answer any questions we might have. It was a beautiful Interfaith Explorers field trip and all who attended enjoyed it very much. 
KRISHNA PUJA EVENT
Saturday, August 20, 2022 – 7:30pm
At Vedanta Society of Sacramento

The Vedanta Society of Sacramento, 1337 Mission Avenue, Carmichael (between Arden Way and Fair Oaks Blvd on Mission), will hold its annual Krishna Puja Celebration to honor Krishna’s birthday. The ceremony will begin at 7:30pm on Saturday, August 20, 2022 outside in the Krishna lily pond area of the Garden of Saints. Vedanta Swamis will perform the ceremony across the bridge on the island where the Krishna statue stands. The ceremony will be livestreamed and will include: chants and prayers; adorning the Krishna statue with flower leis, lighting of candles and offering of food. After the Swamis finish the ceremony, the public will be invited to cross the bridge to give offerings of flowers and food to Krishna. Church attire is appropriate attire and refreshments will follow.
 
Space is limited so please RSVP to Rachel Lyman at rachel24@surewest.net by August 17.
PROGRAM SPOTLIGHT

Arizona Interfaith Movement
 
In 2021 I asked Rev Dave to explore interfaith organizations throughout the United States. He did the research and subsequently recorded a podcast of his findings. We both agreed that one of the most amazing organizations he found was the Arizona Interfaith Movement (AZIFM).
Their mission statement reads:
 
“Our mission is to build bridges of understanding, respect and support among diverse people of faith through education, dialoging, service and implementation of the Golden Rule.”
 
Their mission statement mirrors the mission statement of Interfaith Explorers, so we wanted to honor them in our Spotlight section this month. Below is an excerpt from the Arizona Interfaith Movement website.
 
“We believe that every religion and many secular ethics have some form of the Golden Rule that it teaches its members to live by. We seek to promote the Golden Rule in all that we do. We are not a political organization, and we don’t offer commentary on political issues. Rather, we are an organization whose commitment to the principle of doing right by one another is the foundation of the actions we take. We seek to educate one another about the diverse religious backgrounds that make up our membership, and find common ground between those who hold differing viewpoints. We honor all of those who serve in the interest of the Golden Rule, and we invite you to explore the site, and learn more about who we are, and what we do.”
As a member of the Arizona Interfaith Movement, Interfaith Explorers recently received permission to reprint the following “The Golden Rule” document which the AzIFM developed - recognizing many faith traditions.
SPIRITUAL PRACTICES
 
This month our spiritual practice is part of the mindfulness theme that Thich Nhat Hanh espouses about growing spiritually in the world without getting caught up in all of the human side.  

One of my meditative triggers in this world is rain. The sound of rain seems to ground me; it might be the result of our bodies being 90% water.

There are a number of wonderful videos of walks in the rain. The walks occur in all kinds of settings and range from walking through snow to heavy rains to light rain. The walker in each video meanders down a path or on a street in a major city while the sounds of the water fill the background.

The videos range from very short (10-minute range), to fairly long (nearly two hours in length). There is little conversation in the video as the walker lets the rain fill the sound track.

This month I have picked one of the videos as a spiritual practice. I have at one time or another played this video as I worked on something in front of the computer or just sat quietly drinking in the wondrous sounds. The video is called “Relaxing Walk in the Rain” by Nomadic Ambience and runs about 25 minutes long. It is gentle rain and a great path through a set of wooded areas. There is no talking and the walker moves slow and stops to gaze at streams near the path. I love this one!

I ask that you explore on your own for other wonderful walks in the rain, some in the forest and some through major cities. They all provide another wondrous chance to slow down. You can find these videos on YouTube. 


By Rev Dave Lyman, Senior Minister, Interfaith Explorers
MINISTER’S MUSINGS

Good day fellow travelers,
I sit and write this on July 4th, the birthday of our country. I also have a friend whose birthday is today. He gets so excited that the entire country shoots off fireworks to celebrate his birthday. It is the birthday to remind us of family and being united or one of slowing down.

Everything this month is a reminder for me to slow down. I have another friend who is now in his 60’s. He is high energy and in the space of a week has fallen a couple times – once while pumping gas! Again our reminder to slow down and be awake and alert.

There is a great quote by Lao Tzu that states “Can you sit long enough for the mud to settle so you can see clearly?” It is so easy to get caught up in the journey with our eyes only on the destination that we forget the journey is the most important part of the time. We are not on our way to the next event, situation, meeting, or pleasure. We are here now as Eckhart Tolle reminds us “always.”

My final quote for this month comes from Byron Katie who says, “When you argue with reality, you lose, but only 100% of the time.” It is time in our full awareness to realize that being ever present allows us to drink in all the amazing miracles around being staged and presented just for us, and to sit in awe and wonder! Have a blessed month enjoying everything!


Rev. Dave Lyman, Senior Minister, Interfaith Explorers 
RACHEL'S CORNER

Hello - I hope you are reading my blurb today from a place of calm, good health, relaxation and fun. 

This month I experienced a miracle. Dave and I were unknowingly exposed to someone who contracted COVID over the 4th of July weekend, so for a week we had to self-quarantine. The resultant “miracle” was that neither one of us got sick and we are so grateful! As we continue to practice COVID safety protocols, we stay hopeful that other shoe won’t ever drop, and hope the same for you and yours!

This month I want to again talk about the idea behind Interfaith Explorers. Our goal is to continue to explore other faith traditions to gain a deeper understanding of others and build connections (bridges) of peace. It seems like this would be easy to do. Yes, we can academically explore another person’s beliefs and even experience their worship services. But all of this still may not give us the full understanding we need. (Metaphor) Humans can “see” a flower with the naked eye and describe what they see. But if humans wore powerful bifocals, their view of the flower would broaden, and they would see more of the flower’s intricate details and perhaps enhance our understanding of the flower. (Remember this is just a metaphor from someone who wears bifocals!) So it seems we humans have a “limited perspective.” Scientists tell us that in relation to other animals, humans can only see the world with the naked eye. Although our senses are strong and extensive, they aren’t always powerful enough to give us the understanding of the world we need. 

I want to address this issue because of what I learned recently. An amazing book came across my radar entitled, “An Immense World” by Ed Yong – a Pulitzer Prize winning author. This book speaks to how animal senses can reveal the hidden realms around our universe that we humans can’t fathom. We all know about our five senses which Aristotle coined around 2, 270 years ago: sight, smell, touch, taste and hearing. As wonderful as these five senses are, however, Ed Yong speaks about what biologists and other scientists have found; that senses in animals range outside the realm of a human’s grasp, usage and understanding.

I discovered this fact about our sense of vision last year when I did an art project called, “Beyond 2020 Vision in The Animal Kingdom.” My idea was to paint twenty-five 8“x 8” paintings of animals who had vision greater than a human’s 2020 vision. (Pigs didn’t make it because their eyesight is very poor!) My research led me to fascinating discoveries. I found animals (from the smallest insects to the largest mammals) that could see: both black & white and color at the same time; a color spectrum far beyond a human’s; bioluminescence images deep in the ocean, a distance of over 3 miles; clearly at night; clearly underwater; with a second protective eyelid for underwater vision, and with a second eyelid to protect their eyes from speeds of over 200 mph. My project left me speechless and with deep respect for the Universe and our animal Kingdom.  

So why am I talking about our senses? The point I want to make is that as humans we do the best we can to “see” others, but we may not be able to comprehend people totally because of our limited senses. But that’s ok. Humans have learned to work with what they have been given. I want to recognize that despite any limitations we might have, we are making peaceful loving connections with people of other cultures and beliefs, and we are building bridges of peace and honoring our Oneness.

My best to each of you in your continued endeavor to make peaceful connections. Namaste

In peace,
Rachel Lyman, COO, Interfaith Explorers
NUTS AND BOLTS

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Newsletter Contributions Welcome
If you have a story for our “HAPPENINGS” section - connecting with people of other faiths, please submit your story by the second week of the month to Rachel Lyman at: rachel24@surewest.net.

If you have a story for our “GOD MOMENTS” section, please send your story to Dave Lyman at: tigger1@surewest.net.

Interfaith Explorer Service Opportunity
Thurs August 11, 2022 from 8-10am - Vedanta Group Yardwork Day
Vedanta Society of Sacramento, 1337 Mission Avenue, Carmichael
Come do yardwork to help to prep the grounds for the Krishna Puja event on Aug 20.

Mission Statement for Interfaith Explorers
“Interfaith Explorers builds bridges by providing interfaith education and events of different faith traditions in the greater Sacramento region.”
 Spiritual Life Center | Interfaith Explorers