On Sunday morning, LOTUS was sparkling in the sun. Near the shrine’s Grand Archway, thousands of people waited in hushed readiness. Two tigers rested under small canopies; they too seemed to be waiting for something marvelous to happen. Suddenly, from the distance bagpipe music was heard. The parade was coming. Everyone looked up toward the sound. They could see the bagpipe player rounding the bend at the magnificent overlook on the path coming to LOTUS. Next came a beautifully decorated baby elephant. But it was the sight of the celebrants and the blue satin banners with the symbols of the world’s faiths that really stirred people’s hearts.
A choir sang, “All Creatures of Our God and King” as the celebrants came in stately procession to the All Faiths altar on the stage. Many people felt a tremendous emotional impact. One remarked, “Seeing all the celebrants in their clerical robes-so colorful and varied- watching them march in representing all the religions of the world, listening to the Western choir singing a traditional Western hymn, all the cultures and countries seemed to be coming together. For me, that memory said everything about what the weekend meant.”
The service allowed everyone to deepen that experience. A simple altar stood in the center of the stage. In the center of the altar was one large candle. The voices of the choir raised once again in song as all the celebrants together reached out with their lighted candles and simultaneously lit the central light.
Each celebrant spoke briefly and made an offering to the central light. Swami Satchidananda offered this prayer: “Beloved Lord, in the form of this light, please accept all of our humble prayers and worship. Bless us to raise above these physical and mental limitations. Help us to experience the one light within us all, Let us live harmoniously as Your beautiful children. Bless this holy place to vibrate peace, health, prosperity and harmony. Let there be a lot of healing vibrations in this area so that people can get healed of all their physical, mental and material problems.”
Among the many other beautiful words spoken that morning:
Wallace Black Elk: “Today I respect this candle lighted here. This will be the light of the world. It will lighten our minds and our hearts. This was a gift to us from Grandmother, the Earth. . . There are sacred colors, the rainbow colors. All life has sacred colors. We’re in a color TV world right from the beginning. Yet so recently people discovered that. But now we’re all here and all the beautiful colors
are here and we’re not going to be colorblind anymore.”
Rev. Victoria Parvathi Pratt-Ford: “Let this light remain as a never-ending symbol of our constant faith that this is the truth, that we are all one, that we are all light, and that we can radiate throughout the universe with this light.”
Siri Singh Sahib Yogi Bhajan: “Today is a special day. A united religion is born. The shrine of LOTUS represents that unity, that grace, that divinity and that infinity. It is that which the heart and head must bow to.”
Rabbi Joseph Gelberman: “All is one. That which seems to be an opposite really is not in opposition because all is one.”
Brother David Steindl-Rast: “It is a great privilege to represent here the Christian tradition, not as separated, but as united with all. If we address God as our Father/our Mother, I’m reminded of all God’s children; not only the two-legged or the four-legged, or the crawling ones, but all God’s children.”
Venerable Prabhasa Dharma Roshi: “I pray this wonderful incense will spread out to the whole world in the ten directions offering to all the Buddhas, the wonderful dharmas, and enlightened beings and saints and sages. I pray it will form an altar of light and do the cosmic work it is intended to do. I pray it will benefit all sentient beings so they will raise the enlightenment mind, depart from evil karma and attain the highest way.”
The beautiful worship service came to an end. As the choir sang Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, the celebrants began a stately procession out of the tent and into LOTUS. Along the way, ribbons were cut to open the Grand Archway, the All Faiths Hall and unveil the beautiful statues.