In existence for almost a decade, Oasis International Foundation works to promote mutual knowledge and understanding between Christians and Muslims. Earlier this week, its Roman Catholic founder urged us all to recognise that our epoch is one of a "physical mixing of various - secular and religious - world views... The fruit is that in dialogue we deepen our own faith, but also live well with our neighbours: they too come closer to God." Christians (and by implications Muslims), he said, need to live their faith in every dimension of human existence - not just "calmly sip their tea".
Sarah Thorley's talk to Cheltenham Inter Faith last evening was not about tea-drinking, but about the walks between places of worship she has been organising in South London over the past many years. What she said resonated a little with the theme of my recent Tablet article, but discussing that later, Sarah was reluctant to appropriate the word "pilgrimage" to what she runs; and "penitence" was not on her agenda either. Indeed, she seemed to encourage people of no faith to join in, which seemed to me perverse.
The talk itself was put across with infectious enthusiasm, and matches well a daily meditation I have just read, from the Henri Nouwen Society:
Growing into the Truth We Speak
Can we only speak when we are fully living what we are saying? If all our words had to cover all our actions, we would be doomed to permanent silence! Sometimes we are called to proclaim God's love even when we are not yet fully able to live it. Does that mean we are hypocrites? Only when our own words no longer call us to conversion. Nobody completely lives up to his or her own ideals and visions. But by proclaiming our ideals and visions with great conviction and great humility, we may gradually grow into the truth we speak. As long as we know that our lives always will speak louder than our words, we can trust that our words will remain humble.