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Wayne Walder

For more than 30 years Wayne has practiced meditation from a number of spiritual traditions. He has chanted Dzikr with Sufi Pir's (saints), sung spiritual songs with Hindu priests, and sat in meditation with Buddhist monks. Wayne has participated in Buddhist ceremonies in the Himalayas and in caves with indigenous people. He is comfortable with many religious traditions and his multifaith interest has allowed him to work with many spiritual leaders, such as; Pir Vilayat Khan, Swami Rama, Yogi Bajan, R. Carlos Nakai, and the Dalai Lama. He has led groups in meditation at some of the most spiritual places in the world. Wayne is a practicing Unitarian Universalist minister in Toronto. He has a M.Div. from the U of T and B.A. from the State University of New York.

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I try to play a primitive instrument called the Native American flute. It has a haunting sound that works very well in caves and in temples. A native teacher is helping me learn how to use the flute as a meditation aid.

Memorable Moment

One of our most inspiring pilgrimage stories occurred when we were visiting the tomb of Nizamuddin Awlia, a Sufi saint, in Delhi. We did it on Friday when people were everywhere. As we began walking down the street to the tomb and mosque, we got lost among the people. The crowd made many of us uncomfortable. At the entrance of the mosque, we were asked to remove our shoes, and when one of our travelers asked how they would be kept, the shoe keep said, “Madam I will bind all the shoes in twine.” He showed us balls of shoes, 20 or 30 deep, that were the size of basketballs.

When we entered the tomb the women were not allowed to go into the darga, or tomb, of Nizam. It annoyed the feminists among us. The moving crowd caused many of us to feel uneasy. People eyed us suspiciously. It began to feel unsafe. Fortunately the Imam came by and asked us why we were there. I told him we were there to pray. “Oh,” he said, “that makes all the difference.”

He led us into the mosque, making space for us to sit. He said, “You can pray your Christian prayers here.” He was being kind as he cleared space for foreign visitors on the busiest day of his week. We told him that we wanted to pray dzikr, a holy prayer of the Sufis. “Oh,” he said, then he paused, “we will pray with you.” People came to us and sat down. As soon as we finished praying they engaged us in conversation. They asked about Western politics, about how we justified our wealth when many of them were poor. They asked if we hated them. Their questions opened our hearts. They offered us the kindest hospitality and made us feel safe.

We left the mosque listening to Quali music and moving through whirling dancers. The Imam said, “Would the women among you like to see the tomb of Rumi’s daughter? Only women can see this tomb.” We smiled, remembering how the women were not allowed into the men’s tomb when we came in.

As people left the courtyard mosque they found their shoes safely balled in twine. Later, as people passed by me in the courtyard, many of them leaned over and whispered, “That was one of the most moving experiences of my life.”