Universal prayer in Martin features music, fellowship

Dr. Chandra Varia had prayed for a way to organize the community in unity and love—and Saturday’s prayer event was, itself, an answer to those prayers.

Keith Caudill emceed the event with enthusiasm. “Is anyone else getting their batteries recharged here? I just feel good,” he opined.

MARTIN — The Varia Family Foundation and the local community partnered to put together the first universal prayer event of its kind on Varia Mountain in Martin Saturday morning.

Sister Kathleen Weigand said the idea for the event came to Dr. Chandra Varia after speaking with her spiritual leaders on a journey to her native India. The event would be designed to celebrate the power of prayer itself, regardless of religious affiliations. In doing so, the event would also serve to bring people together to pray for our region, our people, and the greater good of the world.

Saturday’s event featured musical performances by John and Stacia Carwell, Allen Central High School, Wesley Christian School, the Allen Baptist Church Choir, the Mount Tabor Benedictines, a Hindu choir, a Jain choir, and Clayton Case and the Big Sandy Singers. Near the end, the entire audience was invited to sing “Amazing Grace.”

Father Bob Damron offered his thoughts of thanks for the gathering itself, and John Rosenberg recited the “Mourner’s Kaddish,” a Jewish prayer of bereavement, especially poignant given that Saturday marked the 71st anniversary of D-Day.

“I believe in the strength of the community,” Dr. Varia told the audience. “We, the people, make the community, but how? It is in our hearts.”

Master of ceremonies Keith Caudill was genuine with the audience, asking them to guide their silent prayers both to those in need to our leaders to guide their decisions. On the mountain that morning, these silent prayer intervals were accompanied by a musical performance not on the program: the warbling birdsongs coming from the nearby forest.

The true spirit of the event was exemplified when Jean Rosenberg, a Quaker, addressed the audience with “Namaste,” the Southern Asian greeting that roughly means “I acknowledge the divine in you,” and when Dr. Chandra led the audience in a recitation of the Lord’s Prayer.

Sister Kathleen Weigand reminded the audience that, if inclined to join in, they should recite the Lord’s Prayer however they normally would. Some would say the King James Version, others a more modern translation; some would include the doxology at the end, others would not. One might not expect the sound of 200 people all talking at once, saying slightly different words, to sound so beautiful.

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