3 events: Findhorn, Kirkby on Bain, and Ninfield
Findhorn, Scotland, United Kingdom: report by Katharina Brocke
On Sunday, 15 May, 20 people gathered for our celebrations at Findhorn.
We opened the ceremony with acknowledgement of the four directions and calling of the elements by lighting a fire to add to the earth we stood on, next to a pond, with the wind and the occasional rain making them all present and alive.
We performed a peace prayer ceremony next to a peace pole, and then proceeded to honor the divine feminine. A stirring and profound poem, written by a friend of mine at Findhorn, was read to bring in the voice of the feminine, which has lost its way through life’s circumstances and is calling for forgiveness, freedom and its redemption. At that point, a gust of wind blew through the layout of the national flag cards, and we felt that we had been joined by the spirit or soul that had inspired the poem.
We continued our ceremony indoors, with a second reading of the poem. It was deeply moving, and our hearts opened and many tears welled up.
After a deep silence, which acknowledged that which has been endured and lost and is longing for redemption, we sang a song with the lines from a Palestinian poet: “There are a million nightingales on the branches of my heart, singing freedom, freedom, freedom.”
Feeling that something very special had happened, we had more stories, song and dance and ended with a delicious feast of shared food.
It was so beautiful to add a unique voice into that great day of celebration! The participants commented on how very much they enjoyed our gathering.
Kirkby on Bain, United Kingdom: report by Gena Chapman, Diana Joy, and Antonella Villa
The SOPP event in Kirkby on Bain was held on May 15 in the beautiful garden of Jill Hilton. It was a sunny day, but a bit on the cold side. There were 11 participants in all. We started off with a meditation lead by Jil Greenwood, focusing on the divine masculine and feminine. We had a lively discussion about what that theme means to us all.
Next, we each chose an interfaith prayer card. There were 12 cards in all, each with a peace prayer from a major world religion. The prayers were simple but delightful, and we went around the circle, each reading what was on our card. The prayers were very apt for the occasion.
Gena Chapman gave a short introduction to the Symphony of Peace Prayers and explained how last year saw the launch of the Fuji Declaration, and this year the SOPP was supporting the Soul of Women Global Campaign. She read out Masami Saionji’s message about the Soul of WoMen campaign. Then, Jill Hilton read an excerpt from “I Remember Union: The Story of Mary Magdalena,” which is about uniting the feminine and masculine within us, bringing the two together to form a whole.
After breaking for tea and cakes, we came together again, and commenced our flag ceremony, praying for each country of the world, with everyone taking part. When we had finished we had a moment of silence, which was very beautiful. The sun came out at that point! We closed by singing a Celtic peace song. All in all, a wonderful event!
Ninfield, United Kingdom: report by Joanna Newsom Khan
Sunday, May 15th, was a glorious day in East Sussex. We held our gathering at our house in the small village of Ninfield. Somehow, there was excitement in the air, and friends came down to stay the night before to help with the cooking and give the support needed.
The event started at noon, and by 2 pm, everyone had arrived—about 30 people altogether—and had eaten their full, and we were ready to gather around the peace pole and flags. For many, this type of thing was a new concept, but people in our area were very open to coming and participating in the event. I had already printed off many leaflets and laminated pages introducing the peace prayer movement and the SOPP, so most people already had a grasp of the concept.
I started by asking the participants to think about all the people around the world who were linking at the same time, and then we began with a short speech and blessing from the local Imam, who spoke of what Salaam (peace) means for all people. Next, a female Methodist Reverend read a prayer from the Bible about peace. Then, a Sufi musician asked us to concentrate on a particular country and send them peace while he played the Harmonium and toned a mantra (“Salaam/Shalom”). This really lifted the energy of the gathering because of the music, and I could feel that people were becoming more in tune with each other. A lady sang a song about peace, and another Sufi musician played an amazing set of flutes, which seemed to stop time and join us together. This was magical!
We then offered prayers to every country together by handing out the flags and shouting, for example, “May peace prevail in Botswana!” This was fun as well as new for many people, and hopefully generated useful energy. We had another musician play a song about peace with his guitar, and then closed with tea and cakes. We also completed a collective mandala during our time together. Everyone said they were elated with the energy the SOPP had bought to the house, and we all felt how special this day had been, and that we were so lucky to have participated in this event. We look forward to next year!