Six locations: Chicago, Cornwall, Croton Falls, San Diego, Sandpoint, Seattle
Chicago, Illinois: report by Jennifer Kim
We felt the flow of very, very powerful energy during our gathering here at the Peace School in Chicago, which we carried out at the same time as the Fuji Sanctuary ceremony. With our instructors and core members, we conducted a ‘Peace Breathing’ meditation, a ‘Call to Peace’ for all countries, and we performed wordless prayers with deep breathing. We extend our great and sincere gratitude to everyone who participated in Japan and around the world.
Cornwall, Connecticut: report by Pamela Beasley
It had been raining all week, but on May 22, although the weather remained cloudy, it was pleasant and balmy and did not rain at all as we performed the ceremony. We could hear the birds singing as we performed prayers without words. At one point a hawk flew overhead.
Just before we began praying for peace in all the countries of the world, we focused on connecting with everyone around the world who was praying at the same time. We visualized ourselves connected by a giant invisible netting of light around the globe, praying as one for all humanity.
Although we were a small group of six people (some of whom drove a long way to attend), we could feel the power of our prayers as we looked at each flag and prayed for each country. We all felt connected through these prayers to a higher consciousness that guides the prayers not only to each country, but to the consciousness of each individual everywhere in the world. We were very happy to be part of this worldwide ceremony. Let us look forward to a glorious future for humanity.
One participant commented: “Praying for each country in the world gave me the feeling I was really doing something to contribute to the world’s healing and overall health. I would like to repeat the prayer event soon and often.” Another said: “I found the whole experience wonderful. It’s emotional for sure, sometimes a bit overwhelming, but it gave me a feeling of well being, and a sense of making a difference while praying for the countries and seeing the numerous flags. It was especially powerful to pray for countries that are in so much violent turmoil at this time. Knowing that, in sending love and desires for infinite peace and light, I am united with so many others at such a critical time is simply amazing. I was visualizing white light connections all over the globe from country to country, imagining people praying the world over. I am very grateful to be a part of it.”
Croton Falls, NY: report by Deborah Moldow
What a joy it was to participate in the 2011 Symphony of Peace Prayers by hosting an event here at The Chapel at Croton Falls! The first thrill came the night before, when I could feel the powerful energies radiating all the way from Japan. Then, we had such a beautiful event in our church, filled with people of diverse faiths, young people making music and prayers for all nations. About 80 people participated in all, including several special guests and old friends of the World Peace Prayer Society who came from other parts of New York and Pennsylvania to attend, which was a real treat.
The two-hour program was presented as part of our monthly Interfaith Sundays series. Six presenters led those gathered in reciting a brief peace prayer from their tradition: Bear Walker, an Anishinabe Medicine Man (Native American traditions); Candace Downing (Baha’i faith); Rabbi Roger Ross from The New Seminary (Judaism); Renuka Kumar (Hinduism); Pastor Hans Hallundbaek, Pastor of Croton Falls Presbyterian Church (Christianity); and Sunera Rahman from the American Muslim Women’s Association and the Upper Westchester Muslim Society (Islam). Three Japanese guests also performed a prayer without words with deep, harmonious breathing.
The music for the program was organized by Rev. Melanie Gambino, Interfaith Minister and teacher of Performing Arts and Health & Wellness at the Harvey School in Katonah, NY. Featured were ten members of the Harvey Middle School Chorus under the direction of Choral Director Kathy Cushman, and six members of the Harvey String Ensemble under the direction of Concert Master Michael Alas. There was also a lovely dance performed by Middle School Chorus members under the direction of choreographer Melanie Gambino.
The finale was a world peace prayer ceremony with the flags of all nations. Filling the small chapel, we held the flags and stood up in turn as each country’s name was called. With love, we sent out the prayer May peace prevail on Earth to all parts of the world. After the ceremony we enjoyed a light lunch together.
San Diego: report by Kai Neptune and Kyle Salisbury-Bryan
On a beautiful clear day in southern California, the two of us headed for Mt. Helix Park. ‘Helix’ means ‘upward spiral,’ which is what we continued to envision throughout the day for world peace and humanity—an awakening and ascension, spiraling upward. This mountain is known for the big white cross on its very top that can be seen from miles around, and for its gorgeous 360 degree view. There is a history of prayer in this special place.
We started with prayers of gratitude, a short meditation, and a picnic. This was followed by prayers without words, and a meditative walk around the cross, in which we voiced affirmations of humanity’s divinity. There were many happy signs from nature, including butterflies and lizards. We then found a nice boulder and read aloud chapters from Ami: Child of the Stars, which is about humanity’s happiness, sustainability, oneness, and peace. We had a further discussion of what a harmonious earth would be like, and the many ways it could come about.
At the amphitheater, there was a junior high school orchestral performance, so we had beautiful background music to carry us through. We prayed May peace prevail on Earth and concluded our part at Mt. Helix. Back at home, we prayed for peace in each country in its national language(s). It was a beautiful day of prayer and thoughts of love, connecting with the whole world. We hope to prepare in advance next year and include many more people in our gathering.
Sandpoint, Idaho: report by Mary Lou Warns and Keiko Lewis
Our prayer gathering at the Gardenia Center in Sandpoint was quite simple, but it was a very warm and gentle gathering. Despite the fact that one of the biggest annual events in our town was held at the same time, about 15 people chose to come and participate in our ceremony. We truly appreciated their great enthusiasm to work for humanity.
We began with music. Then, Mary Lou Warns read the beautiful message from Masami Saionji, and it united our hearts. We shared in the reading of a poem, some singing, and then told the beautiful story of the children planting a peace pole at the school.
Then, we proceeded to the flag ceremony. This year, we recited the word ‘peace’ in each country’s national language(s). We closed the ceremony holding hands in a moment of silence.
After the ceremony, one participant sent us her comments. It describes our whole ceremony: “I felt such a unity of thought with our small gathering, knowing that we were meeting simultaneously with the ceremony at Fuji Sanctuary in Japan! Singing “Let There Be Peace on Earth,” offering the prayers and listening to the flute music and drums all contributed to an atmosphere of peace and love for our world! I loved hearing and then speaking every country’s word for ‘peace,’ and then seeing the colorful flags of each country and blessing them with the words May there be peace in (name of country). Thank you again for a joyous and profound ceremony of peace prayers for the world!”
Seattle, Washington: report by Nao Valente
On May 22, we held a flag ceremony with the members of the Interfaith Community Church in Seattle.
Minister Karen gave the opening speech and all together, we performed wordless prayers with deep breathing.
We had a flag ceremony in which we prayed for peace in 194 countries, ending with: May the United States of America have peace. May peace prevail on Earth! When the ceremony ended, I felt a very strong energy from the participants and in the room.
I also felt a strong connection when we prayed for each country. It was the first time I had heard of some of the countries, especially those in the Middle East and Africa. I could see the happy faces of the people in each country when we called its name. This is a great way to send light to the people in countries that we sometimes forget about. I also think this is a great way to spread love to humanity.
One participant was particularly excited after joining in this ceremony for the first time. She was a high school history teacher and during the ceremony she had many great memories of her students when we called each country’s name. She said she was so happy to have attended.