5 events: Crewe, Dumfries, Findhorn, Kirkby on Bain, Winchester
Crewe, Cheshire, United Kingdom: report by Lorraine Watts
I was asked to lead the SOPP celebration for a spiritual group that meets regularly in Crewe. On Sunday the 14th of May, six of us met at the home of one of the organisers, where we first shared lunch. We opened our ceremony by grounding ourselves with a relaxation technique called Woo Chi, and then I led the group in a healing meditation to focus on the energy in our light body, expand it and send it out into our world. This was followed by some traditional prayers from various faiths along with poems and a storytelling and song about nature from a participant named River Joy. We then performed a wordless prayer of gratitude to nature and voiced some positive, light-filled words before commencing our peace prayers for each country and region of the world. We finished with some songs and drumming. Everyone said they felt uplifted by the ceremony, and asked if River Joy and I would return again in the future to do another event.
Dumfries, Scotland, United Kingdom: report by Jessica Wheeler
On 30th April we held a flag ceremony with a group of 25 young people who were visiting Allanton Sanctuary on a residential weekend from Glasgow, where they are part of the Guardianship Programme run by the Aberlour Trust. They represented 13 different countries across Asia, Africa and the Middle East. It was a sunny, windy day, and 36 people gathered in our Peace Pole Henge.
The flag ceremony was conducted in continental order, and we placed the handmade prayer flags in a circle around the central peace pole, which has the message May Peace be in Our Homes and Communities on each of its four sides. Before we began, Caroline Uchima beautifully explained what this message means. At the end of the flag ceremony, we handed out the flags of the 13 countries represented by our visitors (we had held them until the end), and we continued to pray, “May peace be in (name of country)” together. After the ceremony, we took photos of the youth holding their national flags.
Findhorn, Scotland, United Kingdom: report by Katharina Brocke
In Findhorn, eight of us met on the 14th of May in support of the SOPP event at Fuji Sanctuary. We created a bridge in our hearts and invited the light that flows through Fuji Sanctuary to enhance our gathering. Then, we honoured the different religious pathways and envisioned in deep silent meditation the divine spark bringing to perfect balance the feminine and masculine qualities in each human being. We completed the ceremony with peace prayers for each country and offered our gratitude to nature.
Participants commented on the powerful and light-filled presence that filled the room and the graceful and loving harmony in which we came together. We were full of joy and deeply grateful.
Kirkby on Bain, Lincolnshire, United Kingdom: report by Gena Chapman
Seven people gathered in a beautiful garden in Kirkby on Bain for a gathering hosted by Jill Hilton. Jill started the ceremony with a talk about how she was introduced to the work of Byakko Shinko Kai. This was followed by prayers and a reading from James Twyman.
The other participants were then invited to introduce themselves and tell how they became involved with Byakko or the Symphony of Peace Prayers. We then performed a flag ceremony in the garden with birdsong as our background. Gregg Chapman then closed the ceremony by playing the Australian didgeridoo. It was a lovely day, the sun was shining and we finished with tea and cake.
Winchester, Hampshire, United Kingdom: report by Kyoko Yasuda
This year, I participated in the SOPP at Fuji Sanctuary from my home in Winchester. It was nearly 30 years ago when I first came to think about the connection and oneness among different religions. At the time, I was just beginning to come in close contact with different religions. I felt the importance of sending vibrations of peace out to the world by deepening my understanding of the teachings, histories, and rituals of different faiths, showing respect for each other’s prayers and praying for one another. When the SOPP began in 2005, I became truly convinced of the importance of doing this. Since then, I have had more exposure to the wider world, coming in contact with many different faiths, cultures, places and peoples. Joining in the SOPP has strengthened my conviction that all faiths are connected within me, and, this network of connectivity continues to grow broader.