Zaragoza, Spain—"Peace, Nature and Spirituality” was the theme of an interfaith program held by UPF.
Twenty-five participants, representing Catholicism, Protestantism, Buddhism and Islam, attended the event, which was held in the Reformed Church of Aragon on November 24, 2022.
After a brief introduction to UPF by the moderator, Concha García of the Aragon chapter of UPF, there was a musical performance by local duo Safari o Crucero (“Safari or Cruise”).
Pastor Augusto Gil of the Reformed Church of Aragon welcomed the guests to his church. Spirituality as lived by Christians of the reformed tradition is nothing more and nothing less than taking a breath, he said, but sometimes we forget that the one who taught us to breathe is our Lord God. This is what it says in Genesis, the first book of the Torah, he said.
The Garden of Eden was Paradise, Pastor Gil said, and it was in the midst of that nature that the first human beings, Adam and Eve, began to breathe and relate to each other and to God. There was peace in that place, there was no death, there was no disease, but this paradise was lost due to human decisions.
Pastor Gil said that as a boy, he learned in Sunday school that humans had to dominate nature. However, he was never told the price that we would pay for dominating God´s creation.
Enrique Puyalon from the Thích Nhất Buddhist order described some of the practices of Buddhism. We enrich ourselves with deep listening, wisdom, and freedom of thought, he said.
Are we independent of nature, he asked. Without the sun, the moon, and water, we would not exist. If nature did not exist, would we exist? First we have to love nature in ourselves.
Armando Lozano, the president of UPF-Spain, mentioned that we have three sets of parents:
- God, our Heavenly Parent and the giver of spiritual life;
- our biological parents to whom we owe our physical life;
- and our Mother Nature.
If we don’t take care of nature, it’s as if we have lost respect for our mother or father, he said. Of our physical body, 99.9 percent belongs to nature; therefore nature has given us everything.
Mr. Lozano said nature has a sacred element. Almost all the founders of the great religions found their calling in a natural environment:
- Moses received the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai;
- the prophet Muhammad went to a mountain cave to discover the revelation;
- the Buddha received enlightenment under a tree;
- Jesus often went to the mountains to pray and find himself. In his parables we will find symbols such as lilies of the field. He used nature to teach.
By the end of the event, a special atmosphere of fellowship, joy and hope had been created, with the participants desiring to meet again soon.