This morning, at the dawn of the last day of 2017, I was honored to participate in the 32nd Annual World Peace Meditation, held at the Rime Buddhist Center in Kansas City, Missouri. Every year, a diverse group of people gather through the dark and the cold, in the pre-dawn hours, to pledge themselves to Peace. Prayers for peace are offered from many faiths, there is music and speeches, and an award – but the most important thing is what brings people back year after year, even in the cold pre-dawn: a commitment to bring Peace to our world.
The prayer that I offered, as an Alliance of Divine Love minister, harkened to the lessons I learned from Grandfather Bearclaw, one of my dearest friends and mentors:
Each year, we gather together in community, with a prayer for everlasting peace in all of our hearts….and, each year, we look around at the world and wonder when that peace may happen. This year, let us commit to holding peace, not just in our hearts, but in every aspect of our daily lives – in our actions and in our words. If each person in the world would live every day as a prayer, Peace would spread across the Earth.
…LET US MAKE IT SO.
Timed to coincide with noon Greenwich Time, World Peace Meditation Day was initiated on December 31, 1986, with millions of people, on every continent, coming together in prayer, meditation and hope, joining in a web of intent to bring peace to Planet Earth. Today, millions still gather at the same hour each year, to unify the power of prayer and strength of intent. According to my research, both from the internet and from direct personal information, the first event in 1986 was created by John Randolph Price and the Quartus Foundation and Kansas City was brought into the circle at the same time through the efforts of Fred Culver of the World Center for Global Community. Today, that movement has expanded and there are events held around the planet, coordinating with noon Greenwich. (Although Kansas City’s time slot is early at 6 am, people on the West Coast gather about 4:00 am! Internet link-ups are also available for difficult time zones and weather conditions and can be found online through browser searches.)
The reader may respond, “It’s been going since 1986 and there is still no Peace on Earth. So, why bother? What is the point?” A flippant answer could be that the world situation might be even worse without these gatherings, but my serious answer is that there is something valuable created — the peace that is carried forth in each individual heart. Each person is strengthened by an internal peace and the peace that is fostered and cherished within the heart of each person is then available to be carried to the rest of the world. I would challenge every reader to attend such gatherings, to “link up” with global peace meditations — or even to start an observance where you live if there is none today.
The event in Kansas City is probably similar to the simultaneous events held in other cities, but each gathering has its unique power – the sharing of music and prayers from many cultures and faiths. What feels unique about our local gathering is probably also the case in all those other locations – we gather in solidarity with old friends who we see often in our interfaith and social justice work, we reconnect with peace workers we might only see on this day every year, and we always meet new people who are working as we do. Just being together and joining our hearts as one is uplifting and reinvigorates our minds and hearts to continue the soul work for Peace. Whether we embrace a friend we work with on a constant basis or someone we haven’t seen for a while or we share a passing greeting or an intimate conversation, the heart-warming feeling is the same: here is another who feels as I do, who holds a passion for Peace and Forgiveness and Understanding. When we gather together, as we did this morning, we are heartened and emboldened for the movement and feel hope that Peace will be achieved. As the event closes with everyone reciting Shantideva’s Prayer, we are buoyed by the hope and faith that, indeed, “all beings everywhere” may “obtain an ocean of happiness…by my merits.”
(Note about cartoon: this sweet drawing was shared on my Facebook feed by a friend who found it on her feed from another friend. I am unable to determine the originator of the cartoon – if it is your work or you know who initiated it, please let me know, so I can give proper credit…and congratulate the artist for having such wisdom!)