Two of the most powerful phrases heard at the 2015 Parliament of Religions:
“An expanded version of love” as in “We can claim or adopt an expanded version of love that includes people we disagree with or feel are being sinful.”
“People of Faith” as in “People of faith, gather together, stand up for what you believe in and change the world.”
Attending the 2015 Parliament of Religions alongside 10,000 other people an hour’s drive from where I was born with my mother has had a powerful effect on me. I have a diverse and complicated religious journey but perhaps for the first time I felt myself at home in the term “people of faith.” It allows me to be me and connect with every person at the parliament. That connection can happen even though I have a different perspective on the world and express my gratitude for life in a unique way. We can respect each other as people of faith. Never mind that hundreds of distinct faith traditions are represented, we can all find common ground around the ideas we love:
- A world with strong loving families
- A beautiful healthy environment
- Freedom from hate, from poverty, and from nuclear annihilation
- Fulfilling satisfying work
- The ability to pray and express gratitude in whatever way we wish
I have faith that together with an expanded version of love, you and I can find a home in this world with the people we love and people who love us. I have faith because I can sit next to a Muslim man at the Langer lunch prepared by Sikhs and talk about what deep and powerful experience we have had. I can listen with interest and an open heart to a show on nuclear disarmament, sacred groves of trees, or the wisdom stories from the Abrahamic traditions just as easily as participating in a celebration of the Goddess or Jewish Havdalah. I can hold in my hand a stone that is destine for a Healing Wall in Windyville, MO., the hand of a Hindu woman from India, or the book of a Buddhist man from Tibet. I can stand in solidarity, in a commitment to peace at the LDS (Mormon) temple square as easily as I can enjoy listening to Christian singers in the open spaces of the Parliament. There is joy all around me here. There are also people talking about what is devastating and destructive in the world and what we must change if seven billion of us wish to continue to live but there is hopefulness in the dialogue. We are communicating and bonding. We will bring home to every continent in the world, this experience and feeling, and our commitment to love and peace.
All things feel possible at the 2015 Parliament of Religions, this microcosm of the world. I have faith I can take home to Spokane, this feeling of hopefulness and change the world. At the Parliament I found a home for my many ways of relating and being in the beautiful amazing world and for that experience and for all the people I connected with, I am grateful.