Sunday, December 1, was a big day for the Cosmic Mass (TCM) — it was our first Mass in Oakland in several years.
Due to a shrinking of staff and resources from the economic downturn and our forced abandonment of Historic Sweets Ballroom, FCS put its energy into training others for the TCM rather than hosting it in Oakland, its birthplace, over the past several years.
But Dec 1 was a whole new beginning with a new leader—Skylar Wilson--and a new generation taking charge, with the support of Nicole Porcaro and Matthew Fox. The theme was “The Celebration of the Body.”
The location was Kimball's, a club in downtown Oakland in the Jack London Square district and the club manager and the club owner were both impressed with the event. A great entrance field and four fine altars were put together by volunteer teams organized by Rose Elizondo, who also directs the Yellawe Program in Oakland.
One altar was a stunning mandala of flowers and branches; another an interactive black light space where people were invited to write messages to their bodies. Tom Stang (brother to Sister Dorothy Stang who was martyred in the Amazon for defending the peasants and rainforest there), was in attendance with his wife Darnel... Sister Dorothy, a graduate of the University of Creation Spirituality, had often attended the TCM during her days in the school.
Mural Artists Ernesto Olmos and Francisco Franco brought beautiful pieces to display: Ernesto brought his painting of “Madre Tonantzin,” and Francisco actually painted portions of his mural of “The Unveiling—the Birth of Creation” while people were entering.
Native American drumming and songs opened the night as people arrived and also opened the directions and the closing of the directions at the end. Matt Fox offered a welcome and introduction and Joanna Macy offered the teaching. VJ Dragonfly had all dancing and sweating their prayers. A flautist and a bass accompanied us at times, and Richard Kaplan, a cantor in a local synagogue, sang a moving Mongolian song with a Mongolian drum and words from the Kabbalah. VJ Carol Luna sang a Hildegard song during communion to the accompaniment of Tibetan singing bowls.
The spoken word was shared by Pancho Ramos-Stierle, who is a leader in Occupy Oakland: he believes it is time for “spiritual people to become activists and activists to become spiritual." Rabbi Michael Ziegler prayed at the table prayers for an expansion of human and religious outreach.
Responses? One young man who drove down from Portland, Oregon said he had never danced so hard or so fully in his life, he felt the spirit taking him over. It was striking how many young men were there—something one rarely sees in church or in spirituality workshops. Clearly the language of dj and vj and rap is their kind of language!
One woman told me she was too moved to talk. Another person commented how special it was to see young people in positions of leadership. Another person said he “was in heaven.” A number of people came forward to volunteer for the next TCM.
All told, it was a night to remember and we look forward to our next Oakland TCM coming up in February!