A Pilgrimage is defined as a journey made to a sacred place as an act of religious devotion. For us, this trip was more a pilgrimage to define and solidify our values as a group that values interfaith work, as well as an opportunity to deepen our understanding and compassion.We came from many different backgrounds, and each member of the team walked a slightly different path, yet each person on our trip came away with a new understanding of interfaith cooperation and service.
The Interfaith Team returned to Lafayette from Washington, D.C. on Friday the 20th after a very successful week. Driving out of the city we all felt a bit of relief to be going away from the madness that was the inauguration and all the traffic, police, and people that go along with it. We walked 4 miles round trip to attend Friday prayers at mosque Masjid Muhammad near the Dupont Circle area of D.C. The prayer service and subsequent conversation with Imam Shareef at the same time as the presidential inauguration was taking place felt like our personal vow to continue to learn and support people of all faith traditions. It was an act of solidarity, of learning, and of faith in one anther as compassionate humans. During the prayer service, the Imam spoke about how we all have faith in something. He spoke of young children and babies that have faith that a parent will take care of them as a particular example. I took this to mean that we are not alone, that at some point in our lives, no matter our faith tradition, we all rely on other people. This sentiment was echoed over and over at the many service sites we volunteered at during the week. Many of the sites we visited served the homeless or impoverished populations of DC by providing needed food, clothing, transportation, support, and most importantly, dignity. At many of the sites, the staff who ran each program had experienced homelessness themselves, and their desire to serve those just as they had been served struck many on the trip. So often, we focus on the differences between faith traditions as points of division, instead of remembering to look at the common shared values. Differences should be celebrated, but not at the cost of forgetting another group’s humanity and diversity. As the group transitions back to life at Lafayette and prepares for the upcoming semester, we take with us values from our thousands and thousands of steps in all sorts of shoes.