In 1992, I attended the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, popularly known as the Earth Summit. I was struck by the criticism of existing models of leadership and development and the need to develop global community and interdependence among people of all nations.
Later that year, I met Thomas Banyacya, a Hopi Elder. He was speaking on December 9, Human Rights Day, in the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York City. That day, he delivered his Hopi Prophecy on the need to change our consciousness and come into right relationship with the earth and its resources.
After his delivery, I was asked to escort him to the reception and we became friends. The next year we both attended the Parliament of the World’s Religions.
Though Thomas died in 1999, I continue to listen to his message as well as bring it to others (watch it here). I believe we are still connected. Thomas emphasized the need for each of us to develop a relationship with the Great Spirit and reverence for the earth.
I thought of Thomas and his message as I developed the process of first becoming a Reconciliation Leader myself and then training others in the United Nations community. Through the program, I help people develop a deeper relationship to their higher power, to the earth and its resources.
The Peacebuilding Process to Develop Political Will is my offering for a new development model, lightly facilitated by Reconciliation Leaders to help participants voice and reconcile their concerns in an emotionally safe environment. In this process, political will is defined as the will of the people and the politician is the Reconciliation Leader.
The pages of this book tell the story of my soul journey to redefine leadership. I offer my contribution to new leadership and development models in response to the Hopi Prophecy to change consciousness in America–through the need I perceived at the Earth Summit—to develop global community, international cooperation and interdependence, highlighting personal mission and a partnership with the person’s higher power or their own word for the Sacred.
Almost nine years after hearing Thomas’ Hopi prophecy and sharing it with many others, I experienced a vision of the Phoenix on September 11, 2001 in New York City during the World Trade Center attack. That vision signaled a new era for me and a way for America to enact the Hopi Prophecy.
It all began when I was in a spiritual emergency.
I am an ordinary woman with extraordinary experiences. My story begins in 1979. Within a fifteen-month period, I had lost three people in my life and did not think I had the inner resources to endure my grief and rage.
Like many others in crisis, forced to slow down against their will, I cried for six months, emptying myself, before I began to reflect and faithfully face and walk through the uncertainty, grief and chaos of my spiritual emergency. It took me years to come to clarity.
In that clarity, I found my life’s work, marriage, a new perspective on death and my own worth and contribution to society. A spirituality beyond my wildest imaginings was revealed to me in personal meditative experiences with spiritual figures–Mary, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, Sophia, The Grandmothers, White Buffalo Woman, Mt. Tamalpais itself, and on 9/11, the Phoenix.
Through these experiences, I gained hope by having the power over my life that resulted in my transformation–incorporating the teachings of Christ. I learned that true power comes from having the self-confidence and trust in my personal relationship with God. Because I have a reassuring and deep experience of being loved and spoken to by Him through my inner Voice, I now know how to discern my outer life path to make a difference in the world.
I recount in this book how I claimed and followed my inner Voice of Love in my work and action on five continents–notably in my practice at home as an educator, counselor, coach, mediator and trainer, as well as teaching at seven colleges and universities, and serving for twenty-five years as a leadership trainer in the United Nations community.
Besides learning from the Hopi Nation teachings through Elder Thomas Banyacya, I found inspiration in the life and words of the late second UN Secretary, General Dag Hammarskjold. From the very beginning of my time at the United Nations, I was drawn to study his life, pray and meditate at the UN as well as invite both UN staff and Reconciliation Leader trainees to join me in prayer in his Meditation Room [www.un.org/depts/dhl/dag/meditationroom.htm].
I trained Reconciliation Leaders to incorporate prayer, meditation, and reflection into their action life. I believe in the need to be reflective, meditative and vocationally called to bring strength and true power to the work of leadership.
Hammarskjold’s words inscribed in his Meditation Room still move me:
We all have within us a center of stillness surrounded by silence. This House dedicated to work and debate in the service of peace should have one room dedicated to outward silence and inner stillness. Join in this work of peace and enter this small room where doors may be opened to the infinite land of thought and prayer.
As a gift to you, dear Reader, I have enclosed pages at the end of this book for you to begin your own spiritual memoir. If you like, use them to reflect on and write about the questions that follow each chapter. Here is my first question:
Where would you begin to reflect on your life if you were beginning your own spiritual memoir?
Virginia Swain is a spiritual guide, master coach, facilitator and leadership trainer with 25 years experience on five continents. For more, go to http://virginiaswain.com/about/. She is the author of My Soul Journey to Redefine Leadership: A New Phoenix Rises from the Ashes of 9/11 which will be available from Amazon.com in January 2017: in hardback ($29.99), paperback ($19.99), and ebook ($3.99) Phoenix is a Spiritual Memoir with journal pages for readers to answer end-chapter questions as a beginning to their own spiritual memoir. Her previous memoir, A Mantle of Roses: A Woman’s Journey Home to Peace is also available through Amazon.com. To learn about Virginia’s individual and team coaching, go to http://virginiaswain.com/about/ . To contact Virginia, go to http://virginiaswain.com/contact/.
To subscribe, click on the button at the bottom of the page.