Archive for May, 2008

Mayapur will be very different in many ways…

Monday, May 19th, 2008

As I meditated on the Global Assembly in Rio in 2002 the following memories came to mind…the first image is that of light and laughter…and the sound of Brazilian music….then multiple marvelous shades of green punctuated by rich vibrant color of the landscape as well as the beautiful smiles, faces and colorful clothing of members of the human family from all across the globe.

Time stood still in welcoming spaces both indoors and outdoors, in solitary times for meditating and just being there and in times that we were gathered in sometimes intimate, sometimes large spaces…and always there was music….and spontaneous responses to joy in the universal languages of music and dance.

Also memorable is the reality of inclusion, the honoring and celebration of our rich diversity…a glimpse of the sacred oneness of all humankind…More sobering and very significant experiences as well occurred in a full day and evening among the young people we met in the flavellas (the Brazilian word for slum…as Andre Porto was faithful to remind us). As we walked up the street of this rather steep mountainside flavella we met young entrepreneurs from within the flavella, young founders of a bank and credit company for the poor within their community. We met as well beautiful children and their young teachers in their schools and recreation facilities. We were most graciously received, entertained and humbled by the young people as well as their elders… both by their courage and their talents and their joie de vivre despite the poverty that pervades their environment. Andre’s work within the flavellas and his efforts for gun control in Brazil are recognized as exemplary not only in Brazil but throughout URI by all who met him.

The difficult yet vital work that we did was, in my experience the “on the ground” sacred work, the work of deepening our awareness of and commitment to one another and our purpose in the context of the Preamble, Purposes and Principles of the URI. Techniques of appreciative inquiry as well as translators for the different language groups (with earphones for us )created the atmosphere of a sacred UN meeting…During sessions where we all wore ear-phones to hear our translators, we could participate in the stories of URI members from around the world: empathizing, laughing, weeping and recognizing our own ignorances, opening to new information, new perspectives we could empathize at deeper and deeper levels each day. In my opinion such interest, compassion, and empathy becomes the mortar for building the URI. The Global Assembly in Rio was a living vision of what we can experience…It was also a vision for addressing the demanding work that lies ahead of us.

Mayapur will be very different in many ways….we’ve grown over these six years….we’ve celebrated, faced and dealt with disappointments, seen our world changed yet again by the escalation of wars and violence….we have grown in numbers and in wisdom, and ”we have dug in our heels” to stand against religiously motivated violence….it will be good to gather again….in a very different sacred space… by the Ganges….

In Love and Peace,
Linda Bennett Elder
Director, The Pilgrimage Project

Prayers for Myanmar (Burma)

Tuesday, May 6th, 2008

Dear friends,

At this time my thoughts and prayers are with the people of Myanmar (Burma), who are struggling in the aftermath of a terrible cyclone that has claimed at least fifteen thousand lives now. This is a saddening disaster and I extend my sympathies to the people affected by the situation.

As a Catholic, I offer my prayers for the souls of those who have been killed:

Eternal rest,
Grant unto them, Oh Lord;
And let perpetual light shine upon them;
May they rest in peace.

I also pray that the Spirit of God will give strength and hope to those who are left behind to deal with the aftermath; those who have lost loved ones and those who have been displaced. I pray for the international aid organisations galvanising to help the situation, that their efforts may help to reduce the suffering and begin to rebuild the shattered lives of the communities affected.

I ask you all to pray for the people of Burma and to share your prayers here. If you want to add to what I have said, so that we may collect our positive thoughts in one place so that they strengthen each other, then please use the comment facility to share your thoughts and prayers.

Matthew Youde, multi-region trustee.