Interfaith Work

Coming Down to the Home Stretch

The rain left, the skies cleared, and it was a wonderful cool evening after the Melbourne plenary session. The Melbourne plenary was a combination of a concert, and an honoring of the ongoing interfaith work going on in the city of Melbourne. Again, the music was interesting. I've not ever heard the Toccata and Fugue in D minor on dual didjeridoos and a classical guitar before, nor have I heard "Amazing Grace" performed (rather masterfully, I must add) on a marimba. After the plenary, there was a dedication of a Peace Pole, which seemed to a number of us like a fine Pagan ritual. I'm not sure if it was all the flags of the world, but it was a large number of them, and all of us had opportunities to circle around while waving the flag of our choice. I had Ecuador handed to me. I spotted the Swedish flag, and called out "Heja, Sverige!", and surprisingly, the holder of the flag responded in kind. Anyway, we all chanted "May there be peace on Earth", as well as calling out wishes for peace in each country on each continent in turn.

The Parliament is showing signs of winding down. The catalog of sessions for tomorrow fits on two pages, where a day normally requires four. Extra Program books, attendee satchels, and Parliament Volunteer t-shirts are for sale at the registration desk. I'm not noticing people leaving, though. It seems that everyone is sticking around to see the Dalai Lama as the keynote speaker at the closing plenary, which is at 2:30 p.m.

However, there is still a full morning of sessions for us. Sylvia broke the news that there is a morning observance at 8:00 that she is keen on attending, so we'll do the same rush tomorrow that we did this morning.

One thing was missing, compared to Pagan gatherings that I attend. There seems to be a significant shortage of drums here, and no drumming circles or drum jams. Even at the Pagan Community Night, there were only a half dozen drums in a room with near to 100 Pagans. My hands don't know what to do. Next Parliament, there is going to have to be a drum circle, whether in the foyer of the main meeting area, or in an outside area. It would have been "interesting" to bring a drum to Australia. Not only would your average djembe be a real treat to pack, but the Customs folks get real twitchy about natural products, for fear of harboring some pests that might cause problems. They would definitely not like a wooden drum with a rawhide skin head to it. Note for the future: pack a lightweight fiberglass or carbon fiber drum, with one of those Remo synthetic heads for foreign travel.

The exhibition hall here is quite an interesting place. I had a Japanese Meditation group perform a relaxation ceremony on me, and I picked up some travel brochures at the Travel Iran booth. There are two indigenous Australian booths, a massive Sikh display, Scientology, Australian Government (talking up their community relations work, including interfaith communications), a group calling themselves the Urantia book, Unitarians, Hindus, Buddhists, Brahma Kumaris, and so on. Just walking through the exhibit hall gives one a brief education on World Religions. Yes, there is a Pagan booth. The Earth Spirit community has one, and the cool part is that they will occasionally perform there; they went to the effort of hauling their harp all the way from Massachusetts. True dedication.

We're now at the point of talking about what all we're going to do when we get home, and what we want to see happen at the next Parliament. Of course, the next Parliament is five years away. If you think the 51 week "supply run" at PSG is a long stretch, try adding another 208 weeks to the wait. The process of selecting the next site is ongoing, and the host city will likely not be named for another year. All I've heard is that there are currently 14 cities vying for the next Parliament.

Time to end this note and get some sleep. Morning will come way, way too soon.

- Dave