The words in the title above, 'Where our paths cross ...', were spoken by Dame Karlene Davis, President of the ICM, who began the series of exhilarating events that characterised the Glasgow Congress by opening the Multi-faith Celebration of midwifery, which took place immediately before the Opening Ceremony.
It seemed appropriate to have this time of calm and reflective celebration, with a spiritual aspect, before the excitement and pageantry of the later events. Midwives heard here for the first time the 'Midwives Anthem' sung by the Society of Midwives from South Africa, entitled 'Until I reach my goal'. The stirring voices of the African midwives became familiar through the next few days as the anthem was repeated and every participant came to know these words and to look forward to hearing them again in the home of the South African midwives when the 29th Congress takes place in Durban in 2011.
More singing came from the Glasgow community-based and multicultural Voicebeat choir and from midwife soloist Catherine MacDonald who specialises in unaccompanied Gaelic singing. The audience of thousands was invited to join in the rendering of both 'Morning has Broken' and 'When I Needed a Neighbour, Were You There?', led by Claire Brennan on the piano.
Harp music from Maureen Hunter was heard between thoughtful and relevant readings reflecting the seven faiths of Baha'I, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Sikhism.
Carrie Varjavandi from the Scottish Inter Faith Council summed up with the words: 'The birth of a child is a special and happy occasion for all families throughout the world, bringing new life from love, and with it, new hope'.
A livelier note was then struck with a vibrant performance from Indepen-Dance, a group predominantly for adults with learning disabilities and their carers, whose wordless but communicative presentation was warmly applauded.
The Multi-Faith Celebration--held in the Clyde Auditorium, popularly known as 'the Armadillo' and familiar to all midwives from its distinctive shape featured on the Congress brochures--finally closed with a blessing from Frances Hume and the playing of 'Amazing Grace' by Pipe Major Iain Macdonald for the Neilston and District Pipe Band.
When midwives moved into the main hall of the conference centre for the opening ceremony, their numbers increased as more and more arrived in Glasgow and...