Archive | August 2012

Local Sikhs gather to honor memory of shooting victims

Members of the Guru Nanak Sikh Temple invited the community to join them Saturday evening in prayer and a candlelight vigil in memory of six fellow Sikhs who were killed last week at their temple in Wisconsin.

At the beginning of the prayer service, temple leaders read out the names of all six who died.

Satwant Pandher, temple president, also praised police officer Brian Murphy who was injured in the shooting.

“He was more concerned about the safety of other people than his own,” he said. “His actions saved so many lives.”

A handmade sign near a stairway that led to the worship area also mentioned Murphy. “We pray for his good health and long life,” it said.

Pandher said he had received more than dozen phone calls this week, some from people he didn’t know, expressing sympathy and support.

Calls also came from the city’s police department, asking if the temple needed extra security, he said.

Pandher said he thanked the police department for its offer, and its consolation, but added, “We’ve been here for 12 years.”

Saturday’s gathering brought together temple members for the first time since the shootings. The gunman also died.

Ashley Dhillon of Marysville said she hopes for greater understanding of who Sikhs are.

“We have a turban,” she said. “Why do some people see us as outsiders? I would hope everybody sees us as part of America, not someone different.”

Several temple members said that non-Sikhs had sought them out this past week to express their sympathy.

Parminder Dhaliwal, of Marysville, works at the Community Health Center of Snohomish County. One clinic patient made a point of telling her: “I’m very, very sorry about your loss.”

Gagandeep Oberoi, of Mukilteo, said he hopes the public will come to understand that Sikhs are “a very peaceful, loving community.”

“I don’t know why there’s so many guns around,” he said. “It’s a matter of concern now.”

Saturday’s event at the Marysville temple was attended by about 120 people.

It was one of two Sikh temples in Snohomish County to hold events Saturday evening commemorating the loss of life at the Sikh temple in Wisconsin.

A candlelight vigil also was held at the Gurudwara Sikh Centre of Seattle, in Bothell, attended by about 400 people, said Harjinder Singh, temple director.


Living life on purpose

“Purpose” is both a noun and a verb. The noun purpose is the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists. The verb purpose is a transitive verb; “To intend or resolve to perform or accomplish.”

I have a good grasp of the noun purpose. I am pretty good at reading between the lines to find the deeper meaning or purpose in letters, songs, and even in difficult situations. I have a clear sense of who I am and my purpose in this life. But it is that transitive verb which oftentimes escapes my grasp. I struggle with the intention and resolve to accomplish my purpose.

For as long as I can remember, my Mom gave me purpose or at the least the hope of a purpose when she told me that she knew from my birth that God had a special plan for my life. I was the only one of her eight children that almost died at birth because the umbilical cord was wrapped around my neck. That story led me to seek the God who created and indeed in a very personal way, saved me for this special purpose.

The discovery of my purpose was not met with angel choirs and bright lights or tunnels leading to a distant land. I discovered my purpose sitting in my 8th grade English class. Despite the fact that it was a public school, my teacher had a poster hanging on the bulletin board in the front of the class.

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does one light a lamp and put it under a basket, but rather on the lampstand and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before all in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

Those words resonated deep within me and I knew that I was created to be a light, not, just any light, but God’s light to the world. Later that same year, I was given a card with the Irish meaning of my name, Eileen; “shining light”. Okay, God, I got it.

One would think that discovering your purpose as a young teenager would seal the deal for a lifetime of focused determination that carried me through the years and help me to hit the ground running into young adulthood. But the tumultuous emotions and difficulties of those teenage years caused me to lose sight of that purpose until I was staring it in the face.

In search of hope and to regain my purpose, in my junior year of high school, I started attending a Catholic prayer meeting. The meeting was uplifting, characterized by charismatic, spontaneous praise and worship songs. As I loved to sing from a very young age, the songs unlocked my heart and my voice and transported me to a place of intimacy with God. It was during one of those worship times that I had a vision, a picture in my mind. It was very clear. I was standing out in the middle of a vast white, almost cloud-like land.

I looked down at my cupped hands and in them sat a beautiful full-blossomed rose, just the bloom with no stem or thorns. I felt someone touch my hands and direct me to lift them up towards the sky. As I raised my hands, rays of brilliant yellow light streamed down from them, extending in every direction, as far as my eyes could see. I didn’t want the vision or this experience to end, but the voice of one of the leaders broke through this experience, ushering me back to the room. He said something I will never forget.

“This little rose has become a light to the nations,” said the leader. I had to steady myself to stay on two feet as I heard him speak these words again. Although the leader had another purpose for sharing those words, God used them to confirm the life-changing vision I had just experienced.