Ten thousand people from 73 countries and every religion gathered in Salt Lake City, Utah, last week and the reverberations are being felt by hundreds of thousands. Will the heart of humanity be open to meet the challenges of our world? This questions was answered by a loud Yes and a commitment to come together in our diversity to work on behalf of Mother Earth , stopping all forms of violence and seek justice for all creation. This hope and promise has created a huge wave of energy for positive change, starting within ourselves and touching everyone within our reach.
I returned home last Tuesday from the Parliament of the World’s Religions that was inspirational, creative, informative, loving and sacred event with ten thousand people of all faiths and ages coming together under one roof. Awakening the heart of our humanity was the theme and every religion throughout the world was represented and committed to work together in bringing justice and peace for all creation. We learned by listening and held heartfelt conversations respecting and honoring differences.
The world in severe crises makes it imperative for us as the people of God to no longer be separated from one another by religion but to come together in our diversity and to work together as faith leaders. We are asked to not rank our diversity as one better than another including our humanity as better than the rest of nature. The message to unify efforts was voiced by everyone and because of the severe crises of the world the board of directors of the Parliament said they would hold another world conference in two years. This is unprecedented.
We had a pre-women’s conference called On Feminine Ground of 100 women organized by Kathe Schaaf in a planning circle where we shared the vision, values and leadership. Phyllis Curott spent a year making sure we had a Women’s Assembly that is a first in the history of the Parliament. 3000 women attended and were inspired and empowered to be a mighty force for change. We held the Reclaiming the Divine Feminine event at the Episcopal Church Center and in the Red Tent in the Convention Center. Jann Aldredge-Clanton, author of the Book She Lives, Sophia Wisdom Works in the World, had all of us who have chapters in her book and present at the Parliament be presenters of a lively interactive presentation.
In a Circle conversation on women’s religious education I told stories from grassroots women’s experiential leadership programs that heal and empower women as change agents. We had many circles throughout and passed out three thousand Millionth Circle bookmarks at the Assembly that had our intention and Circle Principles. Jean Shinoda Bolen with the Millionth Circle Conveners gave presentations and held circle conversations.
The Divine Feminine was visible and audible throughout the Parliament. There was a great hall with banners depicting the many expressions of Her. There were many workshops and panels that included all voices from our diversity. Women’s leadership was fully present as a mighty force for bringing in the new way of being the people of faith especially in Circle. Inclusive language in prayers and songs were used.
Native American, First Nation and other Indigenous people from Scandinavia, Europe, Africa, Asia and Latin America also had a strong presence throughout. Their deep spirituality of living in harmony with nature, caring for Mother Earth as the source of all of our being, is powerful in transforming our separation from one another and nature. It reconnects us as humans to the rest of creation as living members of a living eco-system, integral as part of nature but not over nature. We were reminded that Mother Earth is our source of all that is needed to live, and by living in harmony there will be enough for all.
The gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender were warmly received, had a voice and were enfolded into the loving arms of our collective humanity. No one was left out. All were loved and welcomed. Pope Francis was well represented by high officials from the Vatican as well as women and youth. The Roman Catholic Church once separated in the interfaith movement is helping to lead the way in working together to stop war and violence against women, to eliminate poverty and to care for Mother Earth. Leaders of the Muslim faith as well as Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu and others are committed to bringing a lasting peace. There was a peace silent walk lead by Muslim and Jewish women from Israel and Palestine. There were many workshops and panels that informed and inspired us to become interfaith leaders. Sikhs shared their langar tradition by giving free lunch to all for five days.
The convention center was filled with art, music, singing, dance and joy-filled sacred encounters. Mother Earth’s Round Calendar flyers were passed out adding to the wealth of resources that teach us to care for ourselves, one another and our planet.
The closing Plenary song, Earth is Calling, brought a flow of tears from deep within my soul, tears of hope and joy that ten thousand religious leaders are dedicated to work together for justice and peace for all creation and will go home reaching millions.
We are the wind
We are the sea
We are the rivers
We are the trees
We are the mountains
We are the bees
Hold the earth as our beloved reclaim humanity
Suzan Nolan and I bring this sweet, sweet spirit and feminine power to Gather The Women Global Matrix Annual Gathering this coming weekend in Florida.