I stuck my head in the door and the patient’s daughter beckoned me to the bedside. “Would you like to meet mom?” she asked. As I moved within her field of vision, the patient rose from the bed as if pulled by puppet strings. Our eyes met and I assisted her in lying down again. Safety-pinned to her pajama top were an oval Madonna medallion (“Holy Mary, Mother of God”) and a rectangular one with the Sanskrit symbols for Om mani padme hum, the six-syllabled mantra of Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva of compassion. She seemed happy to meet me; her daughter had told her of my coming.
I acknowledged the pins’ significance and mentioned that I’d been raised in the Roman Catholic church and was now a practitioner of Zen Buddhism. That seemed to please her and I felt an immediate affinity. Strangers no more. Her daughter left the room and our four hands became intertwined in midair silence. Thank you for coming, she said.
Within minutes my legs began to shake from being in this bent-forward, hip-twisted posture. Slowly I lowered our hands to the bed covers, withdrew mine, and bowed. Her eyes remained close as she retreated into sleep, smiling.
Wayne Teasdale (1945-2004), a lay monk in the Catholic and Hindu traditions, speaks of interspirituality as “the real religion of humankind” which, to him, is …
… not about eliminating the world’s rich diversity of religious expression. It is not about rejecting these traditions’ individuality for a homogeneous superspirituality. It is not an attempt to create a new form of spiritual culture. Rather, it is an attempt to make available to everyone all the forms the spiritual journey assumes.
source: Teasdale, W. (2001) The mystic heart: discovering a universal spirituality in the world’s religions. Novato, CA: New World Library, p.26.