A couple of days ago I received an email from the Parliament of the World's Religions stating that they would be closing their attendee survey soon. I had already completed my presenter survey a few months ago, but I had been resisting completing the one for attendees. The 2023 PoWR was a mixed bag; a blessing for sure, and a bit of a headache, too. I was so incredibly proud to be a co-facilitator with my friend and colleague, Rev. Margaret Northall, RN on the topic of perinatal grief and loss. My focus this Parliament was on what I could add to the global conversation, more than what I could get out of it. And yet, this being my 3rd Parliament, I arrived with some expectations...which are sometimes called "premeditated resentments" in recovery circles. I wanted to have "my" experience of the gathering, which didn't always match up with the actual experience. I am grateful I got to be with some old friends from the Chaplaincy Institute in person,
Myra Robinson, with ChIME. She is a chaplain, musician, and creator of Affirmantra
meet some new friends, like Myra Robinson from the Chaplaincy Institute of Maine (ChIME), and play my native american flute at the large indoor labryinth space offered by Verididas. A woman who walked the labryinth while I played mentioned to me that she had never walked the labryinth with music before, and it brought her experience to a new level. This made my heart sing because it was with live music first that I walked the labryinth when I was a seminarian at the Chaplaincy Institute, and it is my preferred way of walking the labryinth today.
As I searched my memory for some of the more positive experiences, it was The Cosmic Mass offered by Matthew Fox and the Creation Spirituality community that was one of the most profound experiences I had at the PoWR. TCM originated in the SF Bay Area and has been offered for 27 years now, roughly the same amount of time that I have lived in this area. I've never went to one before, despite my proximity, which speaks to the divine timing in life. In these last fews years preparing to become a CPE Supervisor, I spent a lot of time rediscovering the Creation Spirituality of Matthew Fox and further integrating his core theological principles like Original Blessing into my educational theories and my life. A total bonus for me was meeting Matthew Fox in person the next day so I could express my appreciation for TCM and all his amazing work (and buy five more of his books!)
Meeting one of my heroes, Matthew Fox
Description from the PoWR:
The Cosmic Mass (TCM): Honoring Gaia, Solidarity for Our Earth, & a Participatory Ritual
African spiritual teacher Malidoma Some teaches: There is no community without ritual. Join us for a contemporary ritual experience that is both ancient and contemporary where we come together to celebrate our common joy, undergo our common grief, share our common hope and become empowered for common action. The TCM utilizes dance, rap, rave, vj, dj, post-modern and pre-modern art forms in a powerful participatory experience that draws people of all faith traditions. Giant puppets accompany us admits a theme of echoing the theme of the conference honoring Gaia, solidarity for our earth. At the TCM, celebrating, grieving, thanking, and empowering take place.
The Cosmic Mass experience contained elements of everything I hold sacred in this life: community, friends, God/Goddess/Spirit, holy tears, communion, laughter, music, dance, art and prayer. And Puppets! It was a ritual that seemed to contain all the rituals I have ever done and all that I will ever do, for the rest of my life. So, I am thankful for the special magic of the PoWR, for making space for connections like these, even if in reality access to a TCM was only a BART ride away.
Chant sung by about 300 people during The Cosmic Mass: Air I am
Central altar in the Red Tent, a woman's only space, at the PoWR