Our Regional Conference in Atlanta was an immensely successful program, with excellent speakers and a wonderful spirit of community among the participants. However, the attendance was lower than what we had hoped for given the quality of the program and the location. Although this has been a most difficult time for the Atlanta Lodge, with their building being sold and uncertain quarters for the future, I hope that the conference has given them a boost. As I write this, they have found what seems to be an ideal spot for lease, so we all wish them well. One of the most interesting and encouraging things about the regional conference was that about half the audience had never before attended a Theosophical conference. Judging by the enthusiasm of the participants, I think we made many new friends.
At Thanksgiving, we made a quick little trip down to North Carolina to be with my mother, Butter Johnson, and family. Butter recently had her ninety-fifth birthday and is still going strong, living in a retirement community. I feel so blessed that she still has her sweet smile and gentle disposition. She enjoys reading my “Viewpoints” and a variety of books after which we often have a lively discussion.
Glenn Mullin was here to present a slide show about our pilgrimage in Tibet and Mongolia, followed by a Saturday workshop on meditation based on the teachings of the eleventh century female Tibetan mystic Machik Ladon. Glenn lives in Mongolia part of the year and is supportive of an initiative establishing a Theosophical presence there. We are exploring the creation of a quality publication of The Voice of the Silence in Mongolian with the English in parallel. And back by popular demand—we have scheduled a second pilgrimage to Tibet in October 2008 for which Glenn will be the tour guide.
Our traditional Staff Christmas Party was scheduled early this year in order to allow David and me to attend. All volunteers were also invited to this gala event, complete with a grand luncheon feast, grab-bag gift exchange, a scavenger hunt (new this year), and other entertainment by our multi-talented staff. I have included several pictures of the festivities which help to build our community spirit and serve as a reward for all the hard work.
When making the long trek to India, David and I often try to arrange a few stopovers on the way. This time we scheduled an early Christmas in England with our granddaughter, two year-old Ruby, our daughter Dana, her husband Tim, and his family. We also managed to fit in a short side trip to Germany to visit friends. Then, on we went to India for the annual International Convention where I gave a talk and participated in the third annual International Theosophical Order of Service conference that followed. I have included a picture of members of our section in attendance. And though we do not know how it will all play out, many Indians and international visitors were most perturbed by the news of Benazir Bhutto's assassination.