Friday, October 16, 2015

Day 1 of Parliament of the World Religions

I remember a song from my youth and the line went something like..."people all over the world just got to be free." Yesterday I saw glimmers of this as people from 80 countries and about 50 spiritual and religious communities convene the Inaugural Women's Assembly and the sixth official opening of the Parliament of the World Religions.

This photo is what we see when we walk into the hall everyday reminding us of our purpose.

Just walking around is a treat and so colorful. The day opened for me by attending the lighting of the Sacred Fire outside of the Salt Palace Convention Center. This fire was lit by people from the First Nations of our own country and indigenous people from other nations. The men build the fire in a large drum with seven slits in it as a reminder that our actions today impact seven generations in to the future. I was awe struck at that notion with I realized...I am the seventh generation in my family. It is in my hands to craft things not just for my son but for grandchildren way into the future.

Below one images from the dark hours we arrived to the building, lighting, offerings and prayers sung. Photos © J. Hildebrand.

At the Women's Assembly I was struck by a statement one of the speakers made...."Women have an obligation to raise the a hand to the divine and a fist to the sky for justice and dignity for one another." The room just kept swelling with the difference women can and must make to not just raise our children, but to be stewards of empowerment, communication, the environment, justice and peace for our world. We cannot stand by and be victims. We must find the courage to stand together....Christian, Pagan, Muslim, Sikh, Jew, and so on arm in arm, heart to heart to create a world that works for everyone. We are the water keepers, the earth keepers, the life bringers, and as one of the Native Grandmothers said..."Allow ourselves to feel and surrender to our ancient calling. There is an ancient memory that stirs deep within us. When the Earth Mother feels pain, we feel her pain. Women are sharing the pain of the great mother and we can transform it."

What presenced itself was all of the coursework in transformation I have done over 31 years. Here was a room of 3000+ women and men standing in this notion. So inspiring.
Photo by PWR Photographers.

Wesley joined me in the afternoon. He has already been drawing those in environmentalism towards him who are key speakers and more starting the moment he got on the shuttle from the airport! He has also earned himself a press pass to shot for Circle Magazine and their website.

We went to the Opening Plenary in the evening. What struck me after a full day focusing on equality and women being a strong part in the Parliament was that the entire stage was filled with only male politicians and moderators for the event except for the singer and her musicians and three women offering prayers and translating. It was a tad disappointing to not see more inclusiveness. The processional in by the First Nations and Indigenous Peoples was beautiful. Girl Scouts from many religions traditions carried flags in of many of the countries present. As a former Girl Scout leader it was inspiring to see brownie through senior scouts posting colors of many places and the joy in the faces. Leaders from the indigenous tribes posted flags and staffs of their people on the stage also.

Photo © J. Hildebrand
Needless to say there is so much more to share. Seeing old friends, making new ones. Watching my son take his place in the world on his terms. My cup is so full and today we begin day two!

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