Thursday, September 8th, 2011 was World Day of Prayer and I was privileged to be a part of it at Unity of Gainesville Church. I was there representing the Dogwood Local Chapter of Covenant of the Goddess. What a wonderful experience. The only regret I have is that this has been going on in Gainesville, Ga for eleven years and this was my first time participating. And, it is not very far for me to travel.
I received a very warm reception upon my arrival and felt both accepted and honored as a High Priest of my religion. I was really impressed with the energy of the sacred space within the sanctuary. The room was dimly lit and a feeling of peace came over me as I entered the room. There were sounds of meditative music and a total ambiance of love and understanding. Several religions were represented and had created alcoves to display their faith and to guide visitors in prayer. All of the alcoves were very well done and I was proud of the job that the members of Dogwood Local Council had done with ours.
Since I arrived early in the morning, not many people were present so we sat in a small circle. I was asked about Wicca and Paganism and was happy to oblige. We had a good session during which others also shared their beliefs. I was able to call upon my past experience as a Methodist minister to help those there gain a better understanding of the Craft. It was both interesting and reassuring to find out that we are so close in our thinking and accepting in discussing our beliefs and customs. It was such an open and accepting atmosphere. I led a prayer that concluded the session.
Shortly after that, I met the minister ( Rev. Sydney Magill-Lindquist) and she was an absolute delight. She told me how the the construction people wanted to cut down the “Mother Oak” and put the church there. She told them to move the church and leave the tree. Before they started building that she asked Mother Oak if they could have a drumming circle to consecrate the grounds. She said that she heard a female voice say “yes and thank you for asking”. I visited Mother Oak and the energy empowered me, as it was so powerful. That was such a fantastic experience in itself. If you are in the area of Gainesville, GA stop by and visit Mother Oak and experience her for yourself.
When I returned to the sanctuary, I visited the other alcoves. Each one had its own personality and not one seemed to be saying that their way was the “right” way or the “only” way. It was truly a cooperative event that emphasized how we are alike and not how we are different. Among other things, I said affirmations at the “I Am” alcove, blessed water at the “Healing Prayers for Clean Water” alcove and prayed for out troops at the “Prayers for Troops From All Times’ alcove.
I met Mona Shah-Joshi, Director, Art of Living Atlanta, who led us in a wonderful meditation. I wanted to stay all day and into the night to meet more people and experience more of the wonderful energy that was building there, but alas, I had other obligations and had to leave.
This event was very special to me as it demonstrated how we can all come together for common purpose. While talking to Rev Sydney, we agreed that we must all do more to not only grow this event, but also to create more opportunities for inter-faith events. I know it is intimidating to come out of the broom closet as a Pagan or a Witch, but we must take that bold step if we are to be accepted by others. People fear that which they do not understand and that which is cloaked in secrecy. The more secretive we are, the more others think we are up to something “evil” or “satanic”. Events like this are safe places for us to tell people who we are and what we believe.
I told a Catholic friend of mine about this and he said “that is the way religion aught to be”. And, as Rev. Lindquist said “just as there are many roads from Gainesville to Atlanta, there are many ways to reach God”. Let us all keep those thoughts in mind.
I can’t wait until next year as I believe it will be bigger and better than this year.