8 events: Chicago; Cornwall, Conn.; Croton Falls, NY; Gardena, Calif.; Iowa City; San Leandro, Calif.; Sandpoint, Idaho; Seattle
Chicago, Illinois, United States: report by Jennifer Kim
In Chicago we held an evening ceremony on May 19th that coincided with the Symphony of Peace Prayers at Fuji Sanctuary. 16 people attended. Before our ceremony started, we had a great time enjoying each other’s company over a pot-luck dinner.
For our ceremony we sat in circles around small flags with a globe in the center. We began with 15 minutes of Peace Breathing meditation (inhale “world”, exhale “peace”). Next, some of us performed wordless prayers for peace. After that, the whole group performed a series of Divine Spark INs in combination with a Call to Peace for the countries of the world. Everyone in attendance had previously learned the Divine Spark IN.
We started with a series of Divine Spark INs and then did a portion of the Call to Peace. As each country was named alphabetically, we all said in response, from our hearts, “Peace in (name of country)”. After finishing 50 countries, we paused for more Peace Breathing and another series of Divine Spark INs. By the time we completed all the countries, we had performed 49 Divine Spark INs.
We felt very close to everyone at Fuji Sanctuary and others participating around the world. By the end of the evening our whole group felt energized and saturated with the powerful, bright energy of peace!
Cornwall, Connecticut, United States: report by Pamela Beasley
It is a wonderful privilege to pray for the peace of all humankind. Each year it seems we can connect even more with the rest of the world and resonate together, and it is amazing to think of this connective prayer vibration occurring throughout the world. We performed some meditative breathing followed by the Divine Spark IN, and then the prayers for each country of the world. The power of our collective prayers around the earth must surely be a beautiful light of harmony and peace—how wondrous!
Croton Falls, NY, United States: report by Deborah Moldow
The Chapel at Croton Falls held our 7th annual Symphony of Peace Prayers on Sunday, May 20. The printed program included information on the Symphony of Peace Prayers and the Fuji Declaration, as well as the international greeting from Masami Saionji. Those attending were also given a country list for the world peace flag ceremony and a sheet of 49 words of light.
After lovely music by Miriam “Sita” Zernis to set the vibration, I greeted everyone who had gathered for the special Interfaith Sunday. About 30 people attended, a nice crowd for this very small church. I explained the significance of the Symphony of Peace Prayers held at Fuji Sanctuary and around the world, and expressed my gratitude to the three members of Byakko Shinko Kai who had traveled upstate from New York City in order to share the Divine Spark IN.
I then introduced Brandon Perdomo, my successor as Representative to the United Nations for the World Peace Prayer Society, and Brandon offered a lovely flute solo. Rev. Melanie Gambino gave an opening prayer to open our hearts and prepare us for the ceremony.
In this year’s program, the prayers for peace from different traditions were woven throughout the flag ceremony. The flags, divided into 11 regions, were presented by different participants, while Deborah read out the country names and all responded, May peace be in (name of country). After prayers for three regions, the Byakko members performed the Divine Spark IN three times to seal the prayers for those regions. In a beautiful, spontaneous response, the participants all began to silently mirror the movements of the IN in their seats. After two rounds, Rev. Deborah invited them to stand if they wished, and most of them did so.
Following the INs, different participants came forward to lead peace prayers from the Native American, Sufi, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths in between the prayers for the regions of the world. The couple leading the Jewish prayer remarked that it was the holiday of Shavuot, celebrating Moses receiving the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai, which also meant that the moon was full. May 20 also fell during the Muslim holy days of Ramadan, so it was clear that our prayers were echoed and amplified around the world.
Miriam and Brandon accompanied the flag ceremony on harmonium and flute, playing exquisitely together even though they had never met before. Miriam closed the ceremony with her special “May Peace Prevail on Earth” song, as everyone sang along while holding the flags. All the participants then gathered in the front of the church for a closing moment to send our heartfelt prayers one final time to all in need across the globe and to say three times, May peace prevail on Earth.
After the close of the event, as refreshments were served, participants were given the opportunity to learn the Divine Spark INfrom the three Byakko members. So many people wanted to learn it! One of the members even promised to return to give a workshop. Several of those attending remarked on how beautiful the ceremony was and how much they appreciated being asked to pray for all the countries of the world. All said they were honored to be part of the Symphony of Peace Prayers.
Gardena, California, United States: report by Tatsuo Ide
As has become our tradition, we gathered at the Byakko Los Angeles dojo to watch the live broadcast from Fuji Sanctuary and celebrate the SOPP together with everyone there. We felt a deep connection with everyone offering prayers for peace in all different parts of the world, which was wonderful. We can all take pride in this global event that casts light on humanity’s divine spark.
Iowa City, Iowa, United States: report by Lori Nelson and Dawn Jones
A damp, breezy day kept the Symphony of Peace Prayers ceremony indoors at the Iowa City Public Library, where it was celebrated in combination with Conscientious Objector Day. David McCartney, University of Iowa archivist, described the life of a University of Iowa student who was a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War.
Participants then joined in a ceremony to pray for peace in each nation of the world, as cards showing each nation’s flag were held up one by one. Kathy Mitchell and Anh Kim from Hanoi led the call and response of “May peace prevail in (name of country).” At the end of the ceremony, someone read a peace poem and the group sang peace songs led by local musicians.Kathy also presented PEACE Iowa with a bell to be used at future peace prayer gatherings.
San Leandro, California, United States: report by Kai Neptune
At 3 pm on May 20th, we gathered in my mother’s garden to pray for world peace. Both adults and children were present. I introduced the work of the Symphony of Peace Prayers, talking about how there are many gatherings happening all over the world this weekend, and that we are adding bright thoughts and powerful intentions to the pool of consciousness to elevate humanity and create world peace even faster.
After speaking “May peace prevail on Earth” three times to the sound of a bell, we began a silent meditation. As we meditated for world peace, there was a gentle but strong wind that blew through the big avocado tree that we sat under. Most of the adults participated in the meditation.
Next, we had a meditative discussion, using the Quaker tradition, where we sit in silence until someone is inspired to speak. People listen and hold the silence, before another person is quietly welcome to speak. This worked very well, as we sat in a circle of eight people and we were all able to have a deep reflective sharing of our experience and our dreams for a more peaceful world. Recurring topics included “How can we build more conscious societies that can support all people?” and “How can we, as humanity, support nature to thrive?” as well as reflecting on our oneness and interconnectedness.
This topic led me straight to the Fuji Declaration. I was able to introduce it more thoroughly, and described a collage of words and papers that we later created together. Next, I introduced the Soul of WoMen project and what we can do to more tangibly bring it into our daily experiences. Later, we each wrote a message describing our vision for the future, to add to the Fuji Declaration poster.
We then had a short but meaningful peace prayer ceremony. We started by saying “May peace prevail on Earth” together, then a continent was named (for example, North America), and the group would say, “May peace be in North America.” We did this for the 7 continents as well as “all the other regions of the world.” We had another short meditation, and moved inside the house where we worked on the poster board projects and enjoyed some refreshments.
Sandpoint, Idaho, United States: report by Cynthia Mason
On May 16, at Cynthia’s Preschool and Kindergarten in Sandpoint, we began our peace ceremony by repeating the word ‘peace’ in various languages. We looked at our experiment based on Dr. Masaru Emoto’s experiments with rice and water, and talked about the kotodama, or spirit, of words. We raised the vibration of our group with the heavenly sounds of Sound Yoga. We gathered around our peace pole and said, “On behalf of humanity, May peace prevail on Earth”. Then we came inside and repeated this prayer for each of the continents.
Seattle, Washington, United States: report by Nao Valente
We had a total of six people join our SOPP event on May 19th in North Seattle. There were two people new to the event, as well as three people who attended last year’s SOPP. I first shared Masami Saionji’s thankful message to all the participants, and then we all did a short meditation.
Everyone loved the flag ceremony and sending out prayers for each country. During the flag ceremony, participants said they felt a very strong and healing energy, and that they felt both inspired and honored. We decided to repeat our prayers for a few countries that are currently in difficult situations. After our flag ceremony, we introduced handwritten mandalas, especially for those who were new. It was great fun writing the mandala together, and it gave us a wonderful experience of unity. We are excited to get together again for the next mandala workshop. Our mission is accomplished!
One participant commented: “It was very nice to spend time with people who care about and pray for world peace together. We did not go to protest or march in front of the public for world peace—we gathered at our friend’s house and peacefully prayed together. And it was just as powerful.”