On Wed the 21 it was International Peace Day. This year I was asked to participate in our local rally as a representative of Mother Grove Goddess Temple and Earth Religionists. I was joined by two Baptist ministers, a Buddhist, a Catholic, a Rabbi, and a representative from the Muslim community. I also happened to be the only woman speaking from Mountain Area Interfaith Forum. It was just a quick speech, about 2 minutes. But I was quite nervous. Mostly because I had come to realize that for the first time ever I was going to publicly announce my religious affiliation in a room full of people who were not all Like Me. I have always been out of the closet and have talked about my beliefs, but usually in an intimate setting. Most of my speaking engagements thus far have either been related to Paganism to a pagan group or not related to paganism at all. And being the only woman on stage brought forth some pressure to make sure that I stood out. I don’t know that I succeeded in that area or not but I have to say I am pretty pleased with myself. I took a bit of Rescue Remedy about 30 min before I spoke and that kept my butterflies at bay. Seriously, before every speaking engagement (no matter who and how many) I get nauseous. Not after I took that stuff! I didn’t even believe it would work but I am going to buy cases of that stuff.
Anyway I spent some time with the other faith leaders outside before we went in to speak. Most everyone was kind but the First Baptist minister was perhaps the most friendliest. We cracked a crapload of jokes and pretty much had our own party. He was already familiar with our Temple and knew some of my Sisters so I wasn’t foreign territory so to speak. The muslim took a few to warm up to me. I happen to know someone whom he knows ( and i knew it) and pulled the name dropping to start conversation. I am not a fan of name dropping but in this case it helped. We chatted a bit about the person we both knew and he seemed to relax a bit. Although he still kept glancing nervously at my pentacle. Mostly everyone treated me well but there was a bit of awkwardness when I was introduced to another Baptist minister who refused to look me in the eye. When he first walked up he shook my hand politician’s style. As in he saw me, shook my hand, and before we even made contact he was looking to see who the next person was that he felt he needed to shake hands with. It wasn’t personal, he did this to everyone. But when the organizer made a point to introduce each of us to him he looked down, up, and everywhere but at me. He was very uncomfortable. This made me sad because I had done nothing to make him uncomfortable. The other Baptist certainly had no issue holding conversation with me. It made me wonder why he couldn’t see past the pentacle. Oh well, there isn’t much that I can do but keep on keeping on and see if he comes around. It’s up to him to let down his guard, I will just be patient and wait for that to happen.
If you would like to see the speech, here it is!