There is no such thing as a non-living thing. Everything on the surface of the earth and inside the earth is alive. As long as we see ourselves as separate from the earth, higher than nature, we will inflict pain.” ~ Wande Abimbola. Nigerian Ifa Priest and Professor
In a land named for the ancient Ute People, in a modern and vast Salt Palace, up to 10,000 religious leaders gathered as one Parliament to “Reclaim the heart of humanity.”
InterPlayers were there as a band of twenty plus women joined by Masankho Banda. We flew to Salt Lake City as leaders of spiritual practices from all over the world, privileged to share InterPlay on the final morning in The Unbelievable Beauty of Being Women and Girls InterPlay Performance and workshop.
Doing a city-wide walk stop and run each day we were able to find each other in the Great Hall, just a little left of center, and hold on as the assembly waded into the great world river of suffering.
We witnessed Hundreds of spiritual leaders humbly pray before offering 10 minutes of wisdom on how to end the heinous global disrespect for women and girls, indigenous people, the poor and the Earth. The assembly seemed to know that miraculous collective spiritual intelligence is needed if we are to change the course of extreme poverty, violence, hate and climate disaster.
The only way to enter such fullness is to let go and travel as a WE.
We messaged our locations to each other, held seats for each other during plenaries, hit the drum, hollered our yeses, attended workshops and shared a daily InterPlay practice in whatever quiet convention corner that we could find.
We danced, sang, breathed, and responded to the potent transmissions of leaders like Jane Goodall, the Dalai Lama, Al Gore, Jim Wallis, Media Benjamin, the Sheik of Mecca, and indigenous elders Dr.Rangimarie Turuki Rose Pere from New Zealand and Chief Arvol Lookinghorse who said, “Mother Earth is the source of life not a resource.” Each person blew us away.
See our group respond to Marianne Williamson’s call here.
Between sessions we met people all kinds of people including the daughter of Malcom X, Rev. Barbara King, 85 year old, African American leader of the largest new thought church in the South, Hillary Lake- a vibrant improvisational Movement leader at 9 Mountain in New England, Rev Victor Kazanjian, Executive Director of the United Religions Initiative and the Pope’s messenger who spoke on his behalf about Pope Francis’ stand on Climate Change.
We ate lunch at the Langar, a 500 year free Skih lunch. We took off our shoes, donned head coverings and sat side by side on the floor with people from every spiritual practice as the kind turbaned hosts handed us Naan and scooped out chickpeas and curry from buckets. It was heaven.
We supported Judy Shook and Gail Ransom with the Creation Spirituality Movement, Carla De Sola and the InterFaith Prayer for Peace, and Susan Pudelek’s voicings on the Buddhist Catholic Dialogue in Rome and many other creative actions.
The last morning, Monday October 19thas I led us through a full hour and a half of the Unbelievable Beauty of Women and Girls performed for an excited audience with songs and music from Soyinka Rahim, Linda Clare Breitag, Michelle Jordan, Masankho Banda and Diane Christopherson. Knowing the forms of InterPlay allowed us to come from around the world, create an order and offer a powerful experience to all.
Then, like the Buddhist sand maṇḍala created and cleared by monks at the entry of the Parliament, it was over. Each person helped to clear the space.
But, we weren’t done. We desperately wanted to hear the Indigenous elders speak. It was the first time in history of the Parliament that time was dedicated to their message.
One after another the elders rose. Many sat in the front of the Hall in full regalia. Their reserved spirit betrayed their extensive education and training.
The message was emotional and harsh to the heart.
“Mother earth has a fever.”
“People on reservations eat diseased fish and live on confiscated land! STOP FRACKING!”
Arnold Thomas, the blind Paiute holy man invoked his authority to ordain us, He invited us to rise and raised an ear of corn, blessing us to return home and tell people to LOVE MOTHER EARTH. Make her needs our top priority!
But we came completely undone when Angaangaq Angakkorsuaq, Uncle from Northern Greenland spoke. Both his words and his medicine changed us.
“It is too late. Over half of the ice in the North Greenland is gone. The water is already in the ocean. The planet cannot stop warming.”
Tired from traveling the world and too many meetings, He said plainly,
”The U.S. is the major obstacle. Your people are weak.”
He raised his sacred wind drum and sang its medicine into us body-to-body.
I breathed it in.
Thirty minutes later, laying exhausted on the grass outside of the Salt Palace near the tepees and fire that had been tended by indigenous elders some of them were holding each other in a tight circle around the fire, praying as they prepared to extinguish it.
That is when the same elders who spoke during the assembly mysteriously began appearing, one by one. When Uncle Angaanqaq came through the door. We rose to meet him.
He laughed, looked into the eyes and hearts of our InterPlay group and asked, “Will you bring hope to the young?”
Alongside Agnotti, Rehana, Cassandra Sagan, Susan Pudelek and others I said, “I will!”
It was not hard for me to say. InterPlayers already bring hope. Ours is a “We” practice that fosters physical, spiritual and emotional intelligence. Our “beauty way” is a both fun, offers deep teaching, and gives hope to hopeless people. That morning we’d taught our audience the “I could talk about” form, “three sentence stories” and how to make a dancing bridge between their hand and someone else’s in an actual movement that creates peace. We invited people to not only listen but to MOVE INTO ACTION!
We sang Soyinka Rahim’s and Linda Clare Breitag’s hope filled songs.
The drum, fiddle and Michelle Jordan’s voice empowered us to dance on behalf of our ability to rise and heal.
InterPlay is our beauty way.
Hope comes when we honor the body wisdom that springs from earth wisdom Our beauty way doesn’t require expensive equipment, travel, excessive planning, great halls or large assemblies. Small rooms are perfect.
InterPlay reclaims the heart of humanity each time we create a new WE where everybody can give voice, tell a story, and feel part of the dance of life. This beauty way is rising in its power to give hope to young leaders and partnering communities who want to marry InterPlay forms and ideas with their people and contexts.
Celebrating our 25th anniversary Coke Tani recently spoke about being a liaison to Leaders of Color. Agnotti Cowie spoke as a liaison to over 50 trained Millennial leaders. Harriet Platts spoke of Life Practice Programs supporting people and leaders!
It is not too late to play a part in supporting the hope-driven intelligence and wisdom of this WE based movement. Donate HERE.
At the Parliament of World Religions I walked as a WE, ate as WE and heard that I need to proceed as WE. As the Hopi elders prophesied.
“The time of the lone wolf is over.” (Individual destiny is no longer the key.) “It could be a good time!”
“There is a river flowing now very fast. It is so great and swift that there are those who will be
afraid. They will try to hold on to the shore. They will feel they are torn apart and will suffer greatly.
“Know the river has its destination. The elders say we must let go of the shore, push off into the middle of the river, keep our eyes open, and our heads above water. And I say, see who is in there with you and celebrate. At this time in history, we are to take nothing personally, Least of all ourselves. For the moment that we do, our spiritual growth and journey comes to a halt.
“The time for the lone wolf is over. Gather yourselves! Banish the word struggle from you attitude and your vocabulary. All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration.”
In deep gratitude to the long walk, dance, and prayers of indigenous elders. To learn more about their journey link here.
Iriama Margaret Lokawua
a’Kaiya Blaney (youth singer)
Ta’Kayia Blaney vocalist and youth environmental activist.
To play in this movement of Inter-Religious InterPlay
Join the InterPlay at the Parliament Facebook Group to stay in touch with InterPlay in InterFaith Practice.
Special Thanks to Jocelyn Bowman for her photography. See more at http://jocelynhornephotography.pixieset.com/interplay/interplayperformance/