From October 15 through October 21, URI Leadership (Preeta Bansal (Chair), Kelsey Ramsden (Global Council Trustee), and Jerry White (Executive Director)) visited the Latin America and the Caribbean region. Following are Maria Crespo’s reflections on the visit to Christ the Redeemer statue.
Rio de Janeiro’s abundant beauty and vibrant city with amazing mountains and open beaches grace all the promotional materials of this Brazilian destination. We are transported to the colorful streets, imagine a noisy Carnaval with flamboyant costumes, listen to samba, and smell delicious feijoada.
During our recent visit to this beautiful city, we found all this. And at the same time, we learned about the struggles our community was going through. We perceived energy, courage, and deep spirituality together with pain, fear, and disappointment.
I was so glad we were there, standing by them, embracing all these sentiments, and making them ours. This was especially evident during the Interfaith Prayer. I have to say that I felt deeply proud of and moved by our URI family in Rio.
At the feet of the emblematic statue of Christ the Redeemer, URI opened the circle and included voices that are not often heard, as our Preamble says. All were invited to speak; all were honored.
Such was the way that MIR CC and Salette Aquino, Global Council Trustee for Latin America and the Caribbean based in Brazil, organized the Interfaith Prayer on top of the Corcovado in Rio de Janeiro.
The inclusion was clear. The group of 25 people in the prayer circle represented Bahai´s, Brahma Kumaris, Buddhists, Candomble, Christians, Hindus, Indigenous, Jews, Muslims, Roma, Theosophy, UPF, Unitarian Universalists, Wicca. And, the issues addressed were the rich and the poor, forests and indigenous peoples, women, men, youth and children, LGBT community and people in the streets. All came together.
As a Roman Catholic, who believes in God, creator of all and everything, in Christ, redeemer for each and everyone, and in the Holy Spirit, giver of light and soul for all, my heart rejoiced and was inspired to be courageous.
We left no one behind. We embraced all under the shining sun of Rio. We had a full house!