There was no way to prepare for The Parliament of World Religions. This every-five-years-or-so conference, which draws thousands of attendees from all over the world of nearly every faith, converged on Salt Lake City, my hometown this month. The focus this year, “Reclaiming the Heart of Our Humanity,” promised speakers including: Jane Goodall, Michael Beckwith, Mother Maya Tiwari, Vandana Shiva, Marianne Williamson and many more …
A year of following my heart led me to the Parliament’s door with a gifted ticket and an invitation to perform “The Unbelievable Beauty of Being Human,” an InterPlay offering of dance, movement and storytelling honoring children and youth of all religions.
Myself and 20ish other playful, heartful, creatives, came together to dance, sing, share meals, learn, cheer and hold each other as we cried over the seriousness of the state of our world.
I heard powerful women ignite the power in all women to share their voices, lead and ask, “who am I to NOT dream big?” I was reminded by a Maori elder, as I pressed my nose to noses of new friends that we (the animate and inanimate) truly are all one. I was called to value a new paradigm for success, Success 3.0 where the bottom line is people, planet and purpose.
But the one who cracked my ribs and exposed my tender heart was a man called Uncle, a shaman healer and storyteller from Greenland, who has been traveling the world since the 90s sharing the severity of the melting ice. “The waters are coming,” he said. “It’s too late. I don’t care if you believe me or not. We are beyond that. In our lifetime New York will be gone, Florida and Boston. ” Then he sang. His face contorted and a sound rose from his heart. It was the howl of the earth crying, the Indigenious pleading, a call to wake up and care for the Mother. And as he sang the audience of thousands wept—me those hiccupping tears that come forth with unexpected violence.
There are many ills in this world: Climate change, income inequality, the oppression of women, war, violence of all kinds, racial inequality … When you look, it’s all so overwhelming. We think what can I, a small fleshy creature really do? I recycle. I ride a bike. I do yoga, donate to charity and smile at my neighbors. Isn’t that enough? To protect ourselves we move about our day sticking to the safe and familiar, the well-worn paths and sterile corridors where the unsavory is quickly swept away or shuffled deep inside. We’ve created these false barriers to engineer some sense of safety but in doing so are harming ourselves irreparably.
What Uncle reminded me is that these barriers crumble when we give our heart.
We have all chosen to be here at this time for a reason. I think to address the challenges of the current age.
Now I offer my heart to you and to this world. In this act, I allow myself to feel and to call on you when it’s just too much, to give what I can, to love without fear and to say what is true even if it’s scary and I think people will not like it. I will do this fueled by my knowing of the basic humanity and fundamental worthiness of all living things.
I ask, will you give your heart too? What does this mean? It means you will let the world in to touch you, to be vulnerable, to make decisions for the benefit of future generations, to act, to share and to care.
What could happen if humanity remembered its heart and learned to share that depth? I believe it is possible and in fact the only way forward.