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Opinion: Three faith traditions come together for a weekend of remembrance

A little girl looks on during an evening prayer on the eve of the holy fasting month of Ramadan at Istiqlal Mosque in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Dita Alangkara
A little girl looks on during an evening prayer on the eve of the holy fasting month of Ramadan at Istiqlal Mosque in Jakarta, Indonesia.

The news can be hard to get through each day.

Wars, crimes, and the suffering of innocents. The warming of the planet and rising of the seas. Wildfires, lockdowns, detainment camps, and millions displaced by war, drought, hunger, and dictatorships.

Sometimes, there is too much to take in.

This is a weekend that includes Passover, Easter Sunday, and the continuation of Ramadan. Holidays about rescue, renewal, and reflection. Stories about the parting of seas, for a people to escape slavery; a great soul rising; and fasting and long nights of prayer to remind ourselves of the preciousness of life.

Sarah Sager, a Cantor in Beachwood, Ohio, told us this confluence of holy days, "represents the right of every human being to be free. For three-thousand years we have been observing this holiday with the same vision. We will continue to do so until the dream is realized. Somehow, it shouldn't be so hard and rare."

Imam Makram Nu'man El-Amin in Minneapolis told us, "I choose not to see this as a coincidence, but a sign that all these faiths overlap. We bring multitudes around the globe together in acts of prayers this weekend for the common good of all peoples. This is especially important in a time of conflicts and social justice concerns."

And Sister Margaret Guider of the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, sent us a poem that reads in part:

"The convergence of these sacred days
should serve as a collective reminder,
that the prophetic heritage
of our respective faith traditions, whether adhered to or not
in the ways of our ancestors, continues to permeate the air
which the human family breathes,
of freedom, love and peace,
the life-giving breath of the Holy One.

Yet, many of us, throughout the year,
breathe through our mouths,
while holding our noses.

In doing so, we defend ourselves from the suffocating air of
bondage, hatred and violence
that surrounds us.

However, in doing so,
we also close ourselves off
from any opportunity of
smelling the scents of
justice, hope and compassion
that also arouse conscience,
giving rise to courage, and resiliency.
Perhaps these holy days
will provide us with an opportunity to open ourselves to be moved
Christians, East and West,
Muslims, Shia and Sunni,
and Jews, Orthodox and Reformed,
to breathe in
the scents of the sacred - of freedom, love and peace,
that we are called to breathe out -
Not only on special days,
But every day."

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.