Amsterdam, Netherlands: report by Shinji Kasema
We had a wonderful Symphony of Peace Prayers ceremony on the 27th of April at the Martin Luther Church in Amsterdam. This was the fourth year for us to hold a ceremony in Amsterdam. This year we had prayers from Japanese Shintoism, Buddhism, the Lutheran Church, and, for the first time, Judaism. We did a world peace dance and enjoyed a performance by a Japanese choir, a poetry reading, and a modern Japanese kimono exhibit and demonstration. We also held a flag ceremony to pray for peace in each country.
Each year, we invite an artist who we feel represents the soul of the SOPP. This year, we invited Japanese kimono artist Mamechiyo, whose love of the kimono led her to create a new style of kimono that would be comfortable to wear on a daily basis. Her work has brought the kimono closer to her contemporary daily life, and this idea of being both down to earth and high in spirit struck me as being in sync with the SOPP. Her demonstration showed us a way to create peace within ourselves and to radiate that peace around us.
This year, we chose to have a program that was less crowded, and to leave more room for each activity. It gave me a chance to connect with the participants, and helped me conduct the ceremony with better energy—I felt less tense and was able to be more natural. This was the first time I had a chance to thank the people who had to leave in the middle of the ceremony, to talk with them directly and feel a positive vibration from them. Previously, I was too busy running the ceremony program. World peace is a big goal, but I believe that it all starts from the individual. It is important to receive feedback from individual participants. The peaceful face of each participant is the beginning of world peace. The SOPP gives us an opportunity to bring those peaceful faces together.
Each part of the program brought us a different type of contentment in our heart, and no one felt strained. With each year, our SOPP ceremony brings us more and more bliss. This year’s ceremony, I felt, brought the SOPP much closer to our daily lives. Thank you again to everyone who helped us carry out a successful SOPP in Amsterdam.
See more information about the Amsterdam SOPP at http://soppamsterdam.blogspot.nl.