UC Observer logo
UCObserver on SoundCloud UCObserver on YouTube UCObserver on Facebook UCObserver on Twitter UCObserver's RSS Feeds

Spirit Story

A world transformed

By Karen Hilfman Millson

The woman in the next seat reminded me of the fear and despair in which many live today. When she heard about the Awakened World conference I was travelling to, she seemed intrigued by the ideas of global citizenship and engaged spirituality that the conference would address.

But after she realized that genuinely caring for others and the Earth might threaten her lifestyle and status, she became angry. She raged at me about taxes for people who don’t deserve support. Then she put on her headset and the conversation abruptly ended.

I was on my way to Rome to connect with 200 others from around the world who, like me, see hope emerging as we awaken in our capacity to create the kind of world we long for. We would gather for 10 days of deep conversation and profound silence, adding our combined wisdom to a global movement toward wholeness and well-being for all.

Our group included many well-known people, including the granddaughter of Gandhi, the economic adviser to the G20 finance ministers and such authors as Joan Borysenko (Minding the Body, Mending the Mind), Jack Canfield (Chicken Soup for the Soul) and Joan Chittister (Following the Path: The Search for Passion, Purpose and Joy). But it also included ordinary people like me who are committed to personal and collective transformation through engaged spirituality.

The week unfolded with signs of new life as well as birthing pains. Those who were accustomed to presenting solutions slowly discovered the gift of listening to others. There were sacred moments: a man from China and a man from Tibet, two countries in conflict, stood and hugged. A young Japanese woman, whose grandfather inspired some 200,000 peace poles around the world, spoke of the day the 2011 tsunami raced toward the coastline and the Fukushima nuclear plant. While others ran in fear, she offered a prayer of gratitude for the Earth, bending down to a tiny yellow flower and asking for its forgiveness. A Buddhist monk from Korea invited us to sing the song that has inspired her journey, the room filling with Amazing Grace in a multitude of languages.

We all agreed that greater well-being begins by reconnecting to our authentic selves, our true selves, that we find by being in communion with God. Only then is healing the Earth possible. Spiritual practice is what makes this transformation happen; it is the key to opening us to the eternal power of love.

Moving from the fear and despair of my encounter with the woman on the airplane to engaging with people who believe we can create a world of peace was like moving through Holy Week. Obstacles were rolled away. New life emerged. Profound commitment grew for a vision of how the world can be when we live the fullness of our humanity and our divinity.

The experience confirmed what I have learned through my church community over the past 17 years: the importance of creating an intentional culture where people listen deeply, speak from the heart, do not try to fix each other, and make space to engage inner wisdom. It was amazing to discover that the longing of my heart resonates with the longings of so many others from so many different places. Hope deepens.

Rev. Karen Hilfman Millson is a minister in Orillia, Ont.


Readers’ advisory: The discussion below is moderated by The UC Observer and facilitated by Intense Debate (ID), an online commentary system. The Observer reserves the right to edit or reject any comment it deems to be inappropriate. Approved comments may be further edited for length, clarity and accuracy, and published in the print edition of the magazine. Please note: readers do not need to sign up with ID to post their comments on ucobserver.org. We require only your user name and e-mail address. Your comments will be posted from Monday to Friday between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Join the discussion today!
Promotional Image

Editorials

David Wilson%

Observations

by David Wilson

If statues could talk

Promotional Image

Video

ObserverDocs: Stolen Mother

by Observer Staff

The daughter and adoptive mother of one of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women share their story

Promotional Image

Society

July 2017

From far and wide

by Various Writers

Meet 11 immigrants who are putting down new roots

World

June 2017

A suitcase for Cuba

by Christopher Levan

You’ll find more than giveaway toiletries and hand-me-downs in the writer's luggage. Each carefully chosen gift offers a glimpse into the lives of Cubans today.

Justice

June 2017

Undocumented

by Kristy Woudstra

Up to half a million people are living in Canada without official status. The ‘sanctuary city’ movement is growing, but the fear of deportation persists.

World

June 2017

Resisting genocide

by Sally Armstrong

In August 2014, ISIS attacked Iraq’s Yazidis, slaughtering thousands and forcing women and girls into sexual slavery. Today, the survivors are fighting for their ancient way of life.

Society

April 2017

Dear Grandkids

by Various Writers

Six acclaimed Canadian authors write letters from the heart

Society

March 2017

Called to resist

by Paul Wilson

Liberal Christians in the United States test their faith against a demagogue

Promotional Image