The Theosophical Society in America

Presidents Diary

In my last installment of the diary I covered the hyperactive time period when the Dalai Lama's visit, the summer convention, and the board of directors meeting all occurred within a little more than one week. In my mind I imagined that the present installment would be a description of the idyllic lull following that storm of activity. I will let you be the judge, but from my point of view there wasn't much of a letup.

Those of you who read your e-newsletter will know that in the beginning of August my wife Lily organized an all-woman crew composed of Olcott residents Diana Cabigting, Danelys Valcarcel, Angelique Boyd, and Juli Cesano, and volunteers Maryann Barlan, Kathy Arseneau, and Giana Waddell. Beginning early on Saturday morning and continuing until past dark they hacked, dug, and carried away the undergrowth that had encroached on the shrine to Mother Mary located on the Olcott grounds. They were joined by Chris Bolger, Clifton Waddell, and me to do some of the heavier lifting. The result is a beautiful, restful, and sacred space on the grounds. The next time you visit, see for yourself.

After the consecration of the Mother Mary shrine I traveled to this year's International Theosophy Conference (ITC), which took place in Julian, California, located in the high desert about an hour and a half outside of San Diego. This was the first ITC event I had attended, but it certainly will not be the last. The ITC is a organization open to members of all of the various Theosophical societies (for a brief history of the various groups go to: One hundred twenty-seven Theosophists from around the world attended. The main groups represented were the United Lodge of Theosophists (ULT), the Theosophical Society (William Quan Judge), the Point Loma TS, and our organization, the Theosophical Society (Adyar). There were also a number of other Theosophically oriented groups that I came to know about, including a monastic group, the Paracelsian Order, headed by John Drais and Alexandria West with Jerry and April Hejka-Ekins. The uniting feature for all of these disparate, and, at times in their history, inimical groups is their allegiance to and admiration for H. P. Blavatsky.

The days were spent from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. listening to lectures and panels spanning a dizzying array of topics, many of them relating some deep Theosophical concepts to the findings of contemporary science. An outstanding feature of the gathering was the strong sense of fellowship and goodwill among all of us attending. I am quite proud to say that for the first time, the TSA will be hosting the meeting at our Olcott national headquarters. It will take place August 9–12, 2012. Mark it on your calendars.

September 10 was the date for this year's TheosoFEST. For the past ten years it has kicked off our season of programs and has been one of the highlights of our planning year. Some of you will remember its beginnings as an open house immediately following the summer conventions, which for a number of years were held in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. TheosoFEST is intended to be both fun and informative. This year we presented almost fifty talks on subjects spanning a range of topics such as the spiritual life of John Lennon, Buddhist meditation, the Theosophical road to enlightenment, and astrological predictions for 2012. Over forty vendors paid for booths, offering everything from jewelry, massage therapy, and art to Tarot and psychic readings and top-quality vegetarian food.

This year we also added a new feature, the Kids Korner. A group of staff and volunteers developed a space for kids and their parents featuring storytelling, puppetry, face painting, balloons, and refreshments. Judging by the number of thankful parents and happy children, the Kids Korner will be back next year.

Traditionally around a thousand people from the local community turn out for the varied activities the day offers, and this year was no exception. A great deal of planning and work by the staff goes into the day, beginning several months in advance. Every year we meet people who have attended many TheosoFESTs as well as people who are coming for the first time.

In late September I was on the road again, this time to New York City, Seattle and Tacoma, Washington, and Portland, Oregon. The trip began in New York, where I relished what I hope will not be a unique experience. I had come to the city to present the proceeds from the Dalai Lama's visit to the recipient Tibetan organizations—$400,000. Now I am sure that there are people for whom this sort of activity is normal (Ed McMahon comes to mind), but for me it is not every day that I find myself giving away that amount of money. Our friends at the Tibet Fund, who had worked with us every step of the way in contacting the Dalai Lama and in bringing him to Chicago, were happy, not only for the contribution, but for the TSA's success with the event. It was a proud moment for me to represent the Theosophical Society in America. This contribution will have a far-reaching impact on the Tibetan refugee community.   11-09-19Tibet_Fund_donation 

On behalf of the TS, Tim Boyd, with his wife , Lily (far right), presents a check for the proceeds of the Dalai Lama events to Tibet Fund executive director Robyn Brentano (left) and president Rinchen Darlo (second from right).



Long-time friends Tim Boyd and Linda Jo Pym visit in Seattle and recall their first meeting in 1975.

The Northwest has long been a hotbed of TS activity, spawning many prominent and influential members. Over the years I have been guided and touched by a number of them–Dora Kunz, Austin Bee, Dorothy and John Abbenhouse, Bing Escudero, and Willamay Pym. While visiting with the Seattle group I got a chance to visit with another “old” friend and coworker–Linda Jo Pym (daughter of Willamay). Linda Jo and I have known each other for thirty-six years and worked together for over twenty of them. We met back in 1975, when a group of us from Chicago traveled out to a Northwest Federation meeting held at the Seattle Lodge. This time, as we sat in her home reminiscing, remembering the great teachers and mentors we had, looking at the TS as we had known it, and thinking about where we were headed, the phone rang. Linda Jo talked briefly, pleasantly surprised by the call, then said, “You will never guess who I am with. I am sitting here with Tim Boyd. Would you like to talk to him?” She handed me the phone, and it was Stephan Hoeller, whose first words were remembering when we had first met—at that same Seattle get-together in 1975. For me and Linda Jo it was a moving bit of synchronicity.

From Seattle and Tacoma, it was on to Portland, Oregon to celebrate the lodge's one hundredth anniversary. Over forty members showed up for the three-day event, which featured a fascinating visual history of the Portland Lodge by our archivist, Janet Kerschner; a couple of talks by me, and a reminiscence of Harry Van Gelder (brother of Dora Kunz) by members who had known him well. It was a lively and inspiring celebration of the rich history of one of our foremost groups.


I close with two festive events back home. On October 2 forty-two staff members, volunteers, and their families turned out for our first-ever staff picnic. The picnic was conceived and organized by Mark Roemmich, head of our grounds and maintenance department, and his wife Kim. Mark had arranged for us to have a spot in a lovely park on the banks of the Fox River. His choice of weather was equally good. For those of you who are familiar with autumn in the Midwest, you know how there are a few days in late September and October that can only be described as “perfect”; when the temperature is warm enough that you can make it in a long-sleeved shirt, the air is clear, and the fall colors are shouting out all around you. This was one of those days. We ate; tossed the football; talked; played a station game created by Quest managing editor Paula Finnegan; had the guys consistently beaten by the girls in bocce ball; and ate some more. The problem with success is that it demands repetition.  So, Mark, we are counting on you.

Finally, on October 12, during lunch break, all of the staff gathered for a baby shower. Erika DeCarlo, our circulation librarian, and her husband, Daryl, are expecting a boy. By the time you read this we will know who made the best guess on the date, time, weight, and length of our newest addition to the family. I look forward to hearing baby cries in the library.