Comments by Rosemary McMullen, August 2008
I attended nineteen events in the three-week span from
September 16 to October 7, 2007 and helped organize two of them. There was a
nice weaving of people. One learned
details of their lives, came to appreciate them through their relation to peace
and justice and interfaith community building.
For me these meetings and experiences, manifesting conscience and
dedication in tremendous range and variance, went far in building a truly
palpable esprit de corps, a Pittsburgh fellowship on
the moral spiritual plane.
Some events were teaching sessions with Q&A discussion;
in others facilitators strove to include everyone in a warm conversational circle.
I feel a participatory, interactive element makes all the difference in how
warm and memorable the experience remains.
And some uplifting element—artistic creation, poetry, music,
prayer--impresses more layers of the human being and keeps on bubbling in the
memory, thoughts and feelings of each person. Mood, atmosphere, quality of fellowship, pace
and movement were unique to each time, place, purpose and occasion.
Pastel drawings for each event I attended constitute a record in form, color and gesture. I drew the day following, having taken the experience into sleep. Each drawing was done on the same size and kind of paper. The majority circular or oval forms signified for me a “cell” forming in time and space by souls coming together as equals in intentional communion. Interlacing forms indicate human interaction and some symbols were recognizable from US culture: peace dove, red,white, blue, prison bars, electric shock. Sometimes a keynote presenter or performers adopted a conventional form with chairs facing front. But if community cohesion resulted, the drawing was circular.
Color choices sprung from within intuitively; black almost
always indicates the adversary of community, fears, dangers, the unknown, the abyss.
Flames indicated uplifted spirit, soul presence and power, but in some cases destructive
fire. The crescent moon was rising on
September 16, almost full on the 25th (the Iran event). Most events took place
in the evening. A prominent moon during the arriving and departing journeys
took its part in the whole. The sunrise
meditation, almost completely a music, movement, prayer and poetry ritual, formed
a unique palette and geometry. The dry, windy afternoon University of Pittsburgh
commons lawn setting for the “Eyes Wide Open” display of the boots of fallen
soldiers comes across directly in the form and colors.
In some events, the interactions of participants could be rendered in form, as in the Tent of Abraham, where we actually built and decorated and sat within a tent, and the Pittsburgh Dialogue Foundation event (actually a dinner at a big hotel, with interfaith dialogue being the modus operandi of the seating chart). The commemoration of Gandhi took on a praying hands gesture. The Open House at the Islamic Center was spacious, airy, serene; the Festival of Humanity in the same space pulled in and held several hundred interfaith participants of all ages for prayer, dinner, a presentation and discussion for over four surging hours.
Having moved to Pittsburgh fairly recently, motivated to
network for professional opportunities, I feel more than blessed to have joined
the streams of hundreds of people of diverse age, color, ethnicity, faith whose
destinies brought them together in one or many of these events. Some will
recognize me and each other as our paths cross in the future. Consciousness has been raised and community
solidarity has gained strength through the many layers of authentic experiences
planned, executed and attended. I
appreciate how the Pittsburgh
region changed for the better during this month, which coincided with the 2007 Jewish
high holy days and Ramadan.