Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Report from the GPIW Summit: Half the World

It seems appropriate that my intention to write more often from the midst of the Global Peace Initiative of Women summit in India was subverted for multiple reasons. The internet service at the hotel was disabled for days in a row; the schedule of the summit was packed with sessions; and it was just too much fun to linger in those long and glorious conversations with remarkable women, both cherished long-time friends and delightful new ones.

I am home now, after a long journey with many parts. I am experiencing that wave of gratitude for the familiar comforts of home at the same time that parts of me are lingering in the energy of the gathering I have so recently left.

A few glimpses at some of the memories etched into my heart:
  • The experience of breathing in the prayers from so many faith traditions that went on for more than five hours the first evening. I will never forget the image and voice of Yangjin Lamu, a beautiful young woman from Tibet who sings haunting and powerful prayers in her language that resonated with remembrance in my bones.
  • Sister Joan Chittister speaking in her strong and clear voice during the opening session about how half the world is invisible and mute ... and the other half doesn't even notice. Her metaphor, that life is a two-winged bird which cannot fly until both wings are equally developed, became the through-line for the entire gathering.
  • Joyce Oneko speaking so eloquently in a session called "Listening to Africa" and describing how the women of Kenya are responsing to the current crisis in her country: "They are doing what women do best -- trying to bring back sanity."
  • The impressive spiritual women leaders who shared their insights included Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo, H.H. Sri Mata Amiritanandamayi Devi (Amah), Anandmurti Gurumaa, H.H. Dadi Janki, Rabbi Namaah Kelman, Venrable Dhammananda Bhikkhuni, and Maa Chee Sansanee.

I cannot begin to describe with words the priviledge of learning at the feet of so many spiritual leaders, the incredible synchronicity that graced my personal conversations, and the loving heart space we all created together. It is best to to simply say that God surely showed up at this gathering and held us all in a nurturing and loving embrace ... a lived experience of a divine Mother.



Wednesday, March 5, 2008

India: The Grace in the Space Between

I have been traveling now in India for two weeks and have just settled in the hotel in Jaipur where the Global Peace Initiative of Women will convene it's global summit of women tomorrow.
I have not looked at a computer in that time, but just stayed focused on the experiences as they came to me.

It has been a magical journey so far with so many incredible moments of connection; I have not begun to integrate all of the brilliant pieces yet but in the next week will try to sit down here and share some of those moments.

For now, all that seems important to say is that I have been awed by the power of the grace in the spaces between the many flowing elements of life in this country. There is a constant movement of camels and cows, of big trucks lovingly decorated with bright colors and shiney streamers, of millions of scooters and motorbikes and rickshaws and tiny taxis, of women floating past in their bright saris, of herds of goats and sheep, of tractors pulling huge loads of grain or grasses wrapped in enormous pouches of canvas. There are moments when it does not seem possible that all of those elements could possibly coexist, and yet they do with an ease and a flowing grace that reminds me that there is indeed a strong divine force of love and protection here.

More to come about the people who have been a blessing along the way and the women who gather here for the Summit.