Walking for Peace

(c) Snapped by Derek
2012 Grafton Peace Pagoda Walk for Peace

The day started with rain showers.

Buckets and buckets of rain.

From roof top to tree trunk, everything was soaked, wet, and laden richly in colour.
I managed to get one of my friends to come along, who was filled with a sense of  mild-anxiety, of not knowing what to expect. Would we get arrested? Probably not. Would pictures be taken? Probably so. Would she have to sign anything? Not if she didn’t want to. This would be our very first Peace Walk together, and her first taste at how crazy and unpredictable my world can be.

I wanted to show her the grounds of the pagoda first, so she had an idea of the beauty of the place. Every time I go there, my heart sings. Her’s did as well. She was struck by how marvelous the building was, out in the middle of no-where.  Birds chanted in the background, as we could see others patiently prepare for the celebration that was soon to happen in just a short two hours. We were graciously welcomed, and asked to follow a Japanese volunteer into one of the temple’s back rooms. We were welcomed to join in dinner.

It was a marvelous experience to behold: a single woman, Jun Yasuda (a Japanese Buddhist nun) gather and lead so many followers in prayer. In a prayer that honoured everyone and everything that went into creating such a wonderful and delicious meal. It was truly a moment of serendipity. A moment that I was and still am, greatly thankful for.

While we ate, everyone was talking, and sharing in storytelling. Babies were being cradled. Children were running and laughing. The young and the old, each teaching all of us different lessons. There was the Mohawk tribe telling stories of walks past, there were Buddhists, and there were non-Buddhists. Muslims, Christians, and Pagans all celebrating in this wonderful moment. Actually working together! All with a simple and beautiful purpose, to pray for peace. To honour our diversity as a species, and come to walk together in harmony and respect and love.

We walked from the Grafton Town Hall all the way back to the Peace Pagoda, which took about 2 hours in total for a total of a mere 4.3 miles.

We chanted. We sang.
We beat drums. We shook rattles.
We carried flags. We carried, smiles…

Before we began, the skies opened and it started to rain…but the Sun shown even brighter, and we were graced with a rainbow of peace in the sky to reflect the many different rainbows we each were carrying in both our hands and in our hearts.

Na-Mu-Myo-Ho-Ren-Ge-Kyo 南無妙法蓮華經

Literally translated means: “I devote myself to the Lotus Sutra,” or as I like to think of it and affirm:

“I choose to open my Self up to the Essence of a Mystical Life, like a lotus blossom, and sing.”

Once back to the Pagoda, lit paper lanterns and placed them around the Pagoda, each written with a different prayer for peace. With the lights glowing beautifully in the background, we had the pleasure to hear from speakers about nuclear power’s dangers to not only human beings, but to the whole planet.

(c) Snapped by Derek

John Armbruster, a seismologist from the University of Columbia, spoke on the issues with nuclear reactors being built on or near fault lines, and also the dangers of waste from fracking that can actually cause earthquakes.
& Cecile Pineda, activist and author of Devil’s Tango: How I Learned the Fukushima Step by Step,  a reading of truly heart wrenching material!

We also had the pleasure to pray from the Koran, words from St. Francis of Asisi, and the Metta Prayer in Hindi, which was beautifully sung to us  as we all joined in the chorus:

Tera Mangal, mera mangal, sabka mangal ho ( May you, me and everyone around be happy and blessed with goodness)

It gave me chills…

Lastly we were lulled by the musical talents of Eric Marczak Native American flutist.

The stars shone as the crickets and frogs sang along.

Photograph by James Chevalier

I slept well last night.
Namaste.

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