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7.15 AM. A small group gathers in the bay window of the great meeting hall in Mountain House, Caux, looking out across Lake Geneva to the mountains beyond. Afghan, Egyptian, Lebanese, Swiss, Australian, Moldovan, American, British; Christian, Muslim; young and old--we come together to share the silence before the hubbub of the conference day begins.

Each day someone offers a few words of reflection. One morning, it's a young American, who describes his journey to forgiving after the fatal mugging of a friend. On another, it's a member of the coordination group of Switzerland's six major development charities on the struggle to strike a balance between action and comtemplation.

Then it's my turn--a challenge with such a diverse group. I talk about my experience of God's love, and the wonder of it: the love of the parent waiting with open arms as the toddler staggers unsteadily towards them; the face that lights up at the sight of us. 'There is nothing you can do to make God love you more,' writes the American, Philip Yancy. 'There is nothing you can do to make God love you less.' With all the pressures we put upon ourselves in this achievement-driven world, it's sometimes a struggle to hang onto the truth that God delights in us, just as we are.

As I stop, the sound of a reed pipe floats up from the terrace below, where a group of indigenous people from different countries are welcoming the new day with a ceremony of their own.

We listen to the music, to a poem, and then, in the silence, reach for that place of stillness within where we meet God--and ourselves. Outside the birds fly to and fro between the trees to the balconies.

When it is time to leave, I pray aloud and invite others to do the same. No one responds, but to my alarm one of the Muslims gets up and leaves the group. Have I offended him in some way?

And then I realize that, just behind our semicircle of chairs, he is prostrating himself in prayer. 'I prayed in my own way,' he explains to me later. And offers me a quotation from Islamic holy writings:

'My son, love me, I love you. And when I love you, I become your eye with which you see, your ear with which you hear, your hand with which you work, your foot with which you seek.'
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Title Annotation:Reflections
Author:Lean, Mary
Publication:For A Change
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2004
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