We returned safely home last night from our time at the Parliament Of World Religions which wraps up today. The first Parliament Of World Religions was held in 1893 in Chicago; the 2nd 100 years later in 1993 also in Chicago, then in 1999 it was held in Cape Town, South Africa, on to Barcelona, Spain in 2004, Melbourne, Australia in 2009 and now Salt Lake City in 2015. We had a great adventure in attending and also in the honor of presenting as part of a huge gathering of religions and hearts from all over the planet. The Parliament’s 2015 theme was “Reclaiming The Heart Of Humanity.”
Jeremiah was back at school at 7:00 a.m. this morning and me back on grandpa, groceries, life and laundry duty ~ with trying to do this blog and other work in between it all ~ ya, business as usual! Still, I am committed to the expanded heart just experienced and want to share a color packed photo smattering of what was an awe inspiring event; one that will take some time to assimilate and integrate. In fact, there was so much there, any one of us attendees could only experience a tiny fraction of it and yet, there is so much take away, it is almost easier to not do the work of integration. Except, of course, that’s not really a possibility giving the calling of our hearts that had us all there in attendance in the first place and all we couldn’t help but take in while there. Deep breath … of … zealous … YES!
The ceremonies and plenaries we attended were bursting with powerful energies from those on the stage and those in the audience. I was trying to reach Jeremiah and found myself in the midst of this pulsating throng taking pictures of the opening ceremony procession; with the native drums on stage, Chief LookingHorse led the way for his people followed by many more leaders of other faith and cultural paths. As you can see from the audience pictures, we were indeed a very diverse gathering:
In between all the power packed huge gatherings, were hundreds of smaller sessions including our own. All that I attended had more empty seats than filled which made me (my ego) feel better that we had probably 20-30 present in our small ballroom for our In Our Hands PlayShop. Because the room had no tables for the hands on crafts I brought, I was Spirit led to lay them out down the center aisle and our playful participants for the most part readily took to the floor and created throughout our songs and invitations.
They came up with wonderful, colorful representations of their lives through their hands punctuated with words and thoughts in their art or in the little notebooks we had for them as we took some still moments to reflect. We had some group spoken, physical, and musical interaction and connection including a beautiful, hand in hand version of our song, Circle Of Love. Our small gathering was for the most part the joyous, play filled experience we planned for. We sang 11 of the 16 songs planned ~! Some of our peeps left their hand art behind and I found a little message that nearly broke my heart ~ I can only hope this lovely one doesn’t really feel this way herself ~ in one corner it said “Nobody Special” … in the other corner was drawn a little bug … I had passed out a plastic creepy crawly for each and we sang, If I Were A Bug as we were compassion in action for our earth from the smallest of creatures. I was able to be a helping angel for a new friend I met there ~ came to the ‘rescue’ with my laptop for her powerpoint presentation; Mangalam runs the children’s program at the biggest Hindu Temple in Melbourne, Austraila and she brought her adopted aunt, her ‘oldie’ to the Parliament, we are all pictured here.We made friends moment by moment in workshops and hallway encounters; so many delicious, serendipitous meetings, greetings, pictures and scriptures ~ religious displays of information, inspiration, and celebration:
I re-connected from afar with an old folkie friend/voice in Pat Humphrey ~ we unfortunately left the next morning so I couldn’t attend her full concert set ~ there were far too many things we couldn’t attend yet we floated in a sea of divine order divinity!
From the plethora of powerful voices we did hear, there were many transformational moments and a few surprises. I was excited to hear Karen Armstrong after reading some of her books. She deservedly won an award for founding The Charter Of Compassion. I ended up being in disagreement of her message … I think … it may be that she spoke an inconvenient truth I am not ready to embrace so I am sitting with it. Briefly paraphrased she said that if compassion had a feeling, it would be ‘disturbed’ and that she was often asked what a compassionate city would look like and her response is ‘uncomfortable’.
While I get her meaning that in her estimation we have to feel disturbed or uncomfortable to be moved to action, I really do disagree. For me compassion in action is a natural outcome from living a mindful, sacred, aware existence. Even without the consciousness of it, people do want to help, it is a natural response and part of who we are as a species. And yes, there are a myriad of ways we are not living this … overwhelm for instance … as co-creators, we can go way over the top ~ I, and the Leaping Literacy Library are good examples of that ~ as was the Parliament event itself … yet we can adapt to how we are often ‘too much’, to how we here in the West have ‘too much’ in juxtaposition to so many on the planet … with deep breath simplicity. We can, in any breath, align with the shine of our divine design … in heart and mind … and focus on what it is for each of us to do … on any given day, in any given moment. I do believe we can act out of joy and Love rather than uncomfortable disturbance.
While it was a thrill to hear people like Rev. Michael Beckwith & Mairead Maguire speak live, the highest speaker in my heart was Jane Goodall. I was, of course, excited that she was speaking but her presence was breath taking. When it was her turn to take the stage, she did not enter from backstage like all the others, she arose from the audience. She, like no other, truly embodied peace. She opened with the chimpanzee calls/language of how her chimpanzee family would know her. She told of some ways her own mother had shaped her by believing in and supporting her ‘crazy’ dream of living with animals in Africa. Her mother also did a remarkable thing post World War 2 when everyone’s fear of the Germans was so thick; Jane’s mother wanted her to know that the war was a terrible thing but Germans were not terrible people so she found a German family and sent Jane to live with them for a while. Wow! Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots organization to empower youth through social justice is definitely on my follow up list of inspiration & integration! There was so many whisperings, stirrings, and shoutings as a call to social justice that I am digesting with relish and the peaceful prayer of ‘How can I help? And what is mine to do?’ And even as I was stirred and sometimes ‘disturbed’, I was also SO blissed to be witness to so much beauty. The first day I set my intention to see beauty everywhere and I was quickly bursting ~ needing to add to my intention to allow the beauty in and through and to be a mirror of it for others! I also kept seeing people who looked so familiar, I could swear I knew them but we had never met. We did see a few beautiful faces from our old church, Spiritual Life Center and that was a fun, warm smile. We ate Langar … the ‘Open Kitchen’ free lunch served by the Sikhs as an amazing gift to anyone who wanted it. Though it was an astounding operation, I couldn’t help think of the harm all those styrofoam plates and plastic forks were doing every day as they got thrown ‘away’ … and as the refrain of Allan Boesak ‘s speech said, “We mustn’t be afraid to say it.”
And the truth is, especially when we travel, all the ‘disposables’ we are dealing with are not in keeping with tending to our Mother from the heart of humanity. So many of life’s gifts are indeed a double edged sword. Which is exactly why social justice is such an important part of reclaiming our humanity! For our part, we will continue our integration of informations and heart centered commitments. And! We offer some bravery, Love, and the SoulPlay awareness of the social justice goodness found on the Overground Railroad this week on the Leaping Literacy Free Shelf ~ enJOY!As we travelled home yesterday, I stopped at the Salt Flats. Jeremiah chose to stay in the car and sleep as I was amazed to see peeps walking and driving across the flats that seemed to be mostly salt, part water, and a mirror like something that seemed like ice but obviously wasn’t. I sifted through some of my own alchemy of Parliament, life, Laurie, and Leaping Literacy. And I picked up some trash.
Well, it is no wonder this epic event turned into an epic blog post! There were constant reminders to tweet and blog there at the Parliament but I was full up in the moment to moment as it was! So thanks for letting me begin to integrate here and now. I am ever grateful for you and your heart time shared here with me, thank you, thank you, thank you! Whatever alchemy you are in the middle of this blessed breath, may it be full of joyous and grateful allowance for all that is, and all that is to be. Whee! Namaste, Love!