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Interfaith Trip 2010: A Fusion of Religion & Spirituality

Two Shinnyo-en young adults, Komada Tatsuyki (Seattle) and David Mcclean (New York) traveled with four Catholics, Kaye and Fred Tierney, Raquel Palma and Deacon Steve Herrera, from the Diocese of San Jose to explore the Navajo and Apache tribes in Arizona and New Mexico. We toured mystical landscapes and walked with the paths ancient ones walked in centuries old cliff dwellings. We read the petroglyphs left for us millennia ago and tried to decipher their meanings.

This was an interfaith trip which Catholics, Shinnyo-en Buddhists, Navajos and Apaches engaged in dialogue and gained a new appreciation of each other’s religious traditions.

One very special place we visited was Canyon De Chelly. We traversed the canyon floor and were awestruck by its wondrous beauty. A Navajo saying is to ‘walk in beauty’; it is a spiritual aphorism that applies to us except that we rode in beauty!

After our tour of the lower canyon we drove along the rim of Canyon De Chelly and drove to a sacred place at the end of the rim road. This place is overlooking Spider Rock. In this place you can hear sheer silence as you see the cathedral-like tower that is the sacred Spider Rock. Tatsuyuki and David brought their chanting kits to this sacred place. They sat on the ledge of this holy ground and chanted and offered this spiritual place their own Buddhist blessing.

At the same time they were chanting, there were two Navajo’s just about 10 feet from Tatsuyki and David who were also praying in this sacred spot. Marcella and George were blessing Spider Rock with their Navajo prayers at the same time. The ancient ones, the ancestors brought these two religions traditions together at the same exact time, so that the Navajo prayers and Buddhist chants could be joined in a joint blessing of Spider Rock.

After the Buddhist and Navajo prayers met, Tatsuyuki and David met Marcella and George. David and Tatsuyuki shared their story and explained that they were Shinnyo-en Buddhists who were praying in this sacred place to pay homage to their spiritual cousins!

This was a profound meeting of two unique spiritualities in a chance meeting in a sacred place, in one of the most breathtakingly beautiful places on earth. This was truly a highlight on this unique interfaith trip.

More about Steve Herrera…