Today, another Nobel Peace Prize winner was in Washington, D.C. On a slightly overcast day with rain drops sprinkling from the sky, the Dalai Lama visited Adas Israel Congregation to meet with the community.
Following the seven days of the Festival of Sukkot, it was only fitting that on this holiday of Shemini Atzeret, Rabbi Steinlauf spoke of how love is timeless and spaceless. He asked the congregation to imagine someone they love, there with them, what they looked like and what they would say. With tears, many would realize that their loved one was indeed there with them in their heart whether they lived far away or had passed away. In effect, the Rabbi was preparing the community for the visit of the Dalai Lama.
Following the service, everyone gathered in the sukkah with fruit and children’s pictures hanging from the reed roof, awaiting the Dalai Lama. Children played in the courtyard unknowingly of the imminent arrival of a famous spiritual teacher of a different faith.
He arrived with the formal ceremony of any world dignitary – security, a press pool and staff buzzing. The Dalai Lama was received by many men in black suits. Before walking to the sukkah, the Dalai Lama took a detour to greet a lady in wheelchair waiting patiently behind a roped area for the press. The Rabbi walked the Dalai Lama over while holding his hand with a gentleness and reverence, which was reciprocated. When they arrived where the woman was waiting, the Dalai Lama leaned over to greet her and held her hands. A simple and powerful gesture.
The congregation waited patiently and then burst into spontaneous song when the Dalai Lama finally arrived at the front of the sukkah.
He smiled. With a sense of humbleness, he stepped forward and praised the Jewish community for their resilience and ability to always persevere despite the obstacles. Within a few minutes he shared joy, laughter and compassion to all present.
Any opportunity to learn from one another is valuable beyond measures. These bridges of understanding create the path for world peace.
By Keri Douglas, writer/photographer, Washington, DC
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