A group of us attended the Parliament of the World’s Religions together as part of the Millionth Circle Initiative. We gave several presentations at the Parliament, which left us with quite a bit of time to enjoy a virtual cornucopia of offerings. There were over 500 workshops and talks as well as several plenary sessions each day. So, with 9500 people attending, one can imagine the overwhelming choices to be made.
Prior to the formal opening of the Parliament, we began on Tuesday with our small circle of Millionth Circle conveners. We welcomed several visitors to this “deepening” and they added much to our day together.
The next day was an all-day meeting: On Feminine Ground: The Alchemy of our Collective Wisdom and Strength, which included 100 women. Then, building on this theme, on Thursday, there was a Women’s Assembly, which preceded the formal opening of Parliament, and that was opened to 3000 women in a day-long plenary session. All three of these gatherings built on one another in releasing the energy of the Divine Feminine into Salt Lake City.
The convention center covers almost 4 acres and feels like a labyrinth of many levels. It made very little design sense to me. It seems to be a place that was designed by committee and it took several days to learn how to navigate. I quickly learned it was hopeless to ask for directions from the volunteers placed around the center. I had to laugh when I asked several for directions to the nearest restroom and, although well-intentioned, they had to plead ignorance. But I soon learned a trick. It was to find people who were pushing large waste containers around that were equipped with brooms and mops. They were the “real” helpers who actually worked at the center and knew the whole layout.
Various events would often have us literally traipsing from one end of the center to the other. But it was well worth it. Walking the hallways was like being in a microcosm of the world. There were women in brightly colored saris, Sikhs all in white, Muslims in turbans and hijabs, Native Americans, even a group of angels wandering the halls. On our last evening many of us attended a concert at the Mormon Tabernacle (which is rarely opened to non-Mormons). It was for a concert from performers from around the world. From bagpipes, to Ba’hai gospel choir, to Jainism call to prayer, to Tibetan Grammy winner group, and much more. It was more than fabulous. For me it was ecstasy personified by each group. The diversity of artistry was amazing. Even the Mormon Tabernacle Choir did a piece, although I was disappointed that the organist didn’t “let ‘er rip”. The organ is amazing with 11,623 pipes. I’d love to hear Bach’s Fugue in G Minor on it!!
I’m still integrating this most outstanding event. It gave me tremendous hope for the future and for our species. Peace can prevail. Even though there was no presence, that I detected, of security guards, there were no incidents of violence or disruptions of any kind. In fact, the only security that I encountered was when I entered the Mormon Tabernacle Church. I think that says a lot about how we can move forward with one heart and one mind through many different paths into a future where the world can work for all living things.
By Justine Willis Toms, Cofounder, Host
New Dimensions Radio