Sitting at my desk at work, I have to take a moment to ponder the gravity of the events unfolding these last few days.
In the bottom right corner of my computer screen is live video of Tibetans doing traditional dance on the West front of the United States Capitol. In a few hours, His Holiness the Dalai Lama will receive the Congressional Gold Medal.
More importantly, my country is recognizing a living Buddha with its highest honor.
There is a lot about the United States that makes me sad and frustrated. But last night, I felt so proud to sit in the Washington National Cathedral — our nation’s House of Prayer — and listen to chanted Tibetan Buddhist prayers. The chief of a Native American tribe in Virginia offered an invocation to the Great Spirit that recognized the divine presence in everything around us, including trees and animals and sunsets and rainclouds. Faith leaders representing the Abrahamic religions pleaded with the world’s citizens to find peace and tolerance in their hearts.
The resident teacher from my church, the Ven. Gyumed Khensur Rinpoche Losang Jampa, who directed the hour-long Tibetan prayer service that opened the evening’s events, implored people to base their lives on loving-kindness and compassion.
But it was the words of the imam from the All Dulles Area Muslim Society who really brought it home for me. Addressing a packed cathedral, with David Crosby, Graham Nash and Krishna Das standing in the wings after their performances, Imam Mohamed Magid told the crowd he wished the service were broadcast around the world, so that everyone on this planet could see the other part of what happens in Washington, D.C.
It was a proud moment.
I’m off to the Gold Medal Ceremony on the Mall. If you reading this and it isn’t too late in the day, visit http://www.dalailamadc.org for the live broadcast.