Years ago I was what you might call faithless. I had given up on the religion that I was raised with. Once I entered adulthood, I found that it just didn't match up with the world that I was experiencing, so I rejected it. But ironically, I still used it to define myself. I became an atheist, but not the kind of atheist that refuses to take mythology literally and finds more meaning in rational exploration of our experiences. I was the kind of angry, reactionary atheist that wasn't really an atheist at all. I was the kind of atheist that was mad at God for not existing.
Eventually I found my anger and rejection of faith to be hollow. I felt a need for meaning in my life, and I noticed that event though I didn't believe in the aspects of religion that I would call "magical", there were still some things that I did believe in. I believed in right and wrong, and I believed in love. I believed that there must be some kind of meaning to life, even if I had to make it myself.
So, I started searching. And, I found very quickly that there are a lot of options when it comes to faith. Humankind has been wrestling with these questions for all time, and there is a vast wealth of information out there from those who have gone before us. I found that I didn't have to accept a cookie cutter, one size fits all explanation of life in order be a person of faith. I found that faith is not what happens when you stop asking questions and blindly accept things that seem unbelievable. Faith is what happens when you start asking questions, and searching in itself is part of the answer.
I also managed to make peace with my past and can now find a lot of value in the tradition I was raised with. Once, while I was taking a meditation course from a Zen priest, some of the students made some disparraging remarks about the Catholicism that they were raised with. The priest advised, "Don't disparage your past. It's what brought you here." Years later, I'm still practicing Buddhist meditation while studying to become a Unitarian Universalist minister at a Catholic university.
I'm still searching, but I've left the need to have all of the answers far behind. I've found that faith is not a set of statements that can be memorized, or a bunch of rules that I need to follow. Faith is something that I live, and it is enriched by every new experience and perspective that I add to it.
Everywhere I go, everyone I talk to about Gaia House Interfaith Center says the same thing. "I wish there was one of those in my town! I would hang out there all the time!" Why? No other place I know of offers such a rich and diverse collection of spiritually edifying gatherings, eye-opening cultural experiences, and opportunities to create a community with truly amazing people of all ages and walks of life. I have sat down and shared meals with Jews, Muslims, and Christians who love each other. I have meditated with Buddhists and Hindus alike. I have shared and received life lessons with believers
and non-believers of all kinds. I have spent nearly three years of my life working to expand our reach and provide our students with opportunities to deepen their connections with themselves and one another, and become leaders who are the change they wish to see in the world. I have seen these students grow into aware adults, and I have seen them build on their experiences here by moving on to other peace, justice, and sustainability-based endeavors like the Peace Corps and the Greensburg, Kansas sustainable city project. The earth is Gaia, and this is our Gaia House: a microcosm, a sandbox, in which to create peace and understanding and learn to spread it.
Gaia House Interfaith Center
913 S. Illinois Ave.
Carbondale, IL 62901ourgaiahouse.org (618) 549-7387
The SGI -USA Chicago Peace Concert Series presents Angel d’Cuba in concert at the SGI -USA Chicago Culture Center 1455 S. Wabash, Chicago, IL 60605 on Friday, January 27th at 7:00 PM. No tickets needed. Free Concert. Free Parking. Doors open at 6:30pm. For more information, call 312-913-1211. Visit our Facebook page.
Cuban soul! Rich, explosive, sublime. Angel has built a solid reputation in his homeland and now in the USA as a dynamic performer and blender of styles, as well as a master of pure traditional Cuban music. He and his group cannot only lay down the typical latin party music of salsa, cha cha chá and merengue, but also heart-melting boleros, tasty jazz, smokin' funk and jumpin' calypso. In addition Angel is a prolific songwriter, with compositions spanning the styles of salsa, timba, merengue, pop latino, jazz, funk, calypso, samba and more. A savory sampling of this will be available on the forthcoming CD.
Angel d'Cuba, former lead singer with Cuban super-group Mezcla, now resides in Chicago and leads his own group. This group delivers blistering salsa, timba, soul, funk, calypso and reggae flavored with the real MÚSICA CUBANA! Must see and hear to appreciate!
Some of the places Angel d'Cuba has performed are Taste of Chicago 2011, The Old Town School of Folk Music 2011, Chicago's Festival Cubano 2010, among many others.
The SGI Chicago Peace Concert Series is affiliated with SGI -USA (a registered IRS 501 © (3) non-profit) a lay Buddhist organization dedicated to peace, culture and education. As part of our mission, we’re proud to present these Peace Concerts on the last Friday of every month as a gift to the community. The Peace Concert Series has been ongoing since March of 2004.
Peace Concert Series Contact: George Goetschel, Peace Concert Coordinator 847-732-2497 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 847-732-2497 end_of_the_skype_highlighting firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Print Version: Free Peace Concert: Angel d’Cuba Friday, January 27th - 7PM - SGI -USA Chicago Culture Center 1455 S. Wabash. Free Concert. Free Parking. Doors open 6:30pm Info: 312-913-1211; http://www.sgicentral.org/