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I'm really excited and I'd like to share a vision that came to me while attending a service during the URI meeting in June 1999. The United Religions Initiative (URI) began in 1995 when, as part of the UN 50th celebrations, the Episcopal Bishop of California, William Swing, called for the creation of a United Nations-like body for the religions of the world. This is the fourth time they have met and I have attended this service twice before at the 1997 and 1998 meetings.
This year the service included stories about the planned events planned during the 72 Hours of Interfaith Peacemaking at the time of the Millennium. This would be the last weekend in 1999: Friday, December 31st, New Years Eve; Saturday, January 1, 2000, New Year's Day: and Sunday, January 2nd, the FIRST Sunday in the new millenium. After stories were shared of work being done in Brazil, Pakistan, Ethiopia and elsewhere, we were asked to contemplate the question, "How do you see yourself and the communities you belong to being part of the 72 Hours?". I had an inspiration! I have been working on the design for a Goddess mural as part of Goddess 2000, a project to create artwork embodying the female divine. My design to this point was a Goddess holding the world in her hands. I saw that I now I have to add the legend - May Peace Prevail on Earth! to my design. Further, I saw that there is a place for this sentiment in the rituals planned as part of the Goddess 2000 events. Also by sharing our vision of creating images of the female divine with The World Peace Prayer Society and the URI we can work for the good of all life and for the healing of the earth and peace between all peoples and the earth in coalition!
One of most moving things attending the URI service has brought to me is the World Peace Prayer Ceremony for the people of the world's religions and spiritual traditions. The basic prayer is something created by the Prayer Society in Japan which arose after Hiroshima to pray for peace. They do it to pray for the people of each nation with a flag representing each nation as it is prayed for. The URI folks have made banners for 15 religions, plus one for all others and one for the people of all beliefs yet to come! The folks carrying the banners line up down the processional aisle of the chapel, we speak the opening prayer in unison and then a woman leads the prayer by speaking the name of the religion who we should insert in the blank.
My eyes were filled with tears the first time I heard hundreds of people of all faiths wish for Peace to the Wiccan people. It is a re- affirmation of the importance of the interfaith work I have been doing in the last decade and the progress we have made at being recognized as one among the many religions of the world.
The prayer goes:
May Peace Prevail on Earth
I will pray for the happiness of the people of all the spiritual traditions of the world.
For each religion and spiritual tradition:
May the __________ people live in peace
May peace prevail on earth.
In the blank we inserted:
The People of all Other Spiritual Traditions of the World
The People of all Beliefs yet to come
May all the religions and spiritual traditions of the world live
together in peace
May Peace Prevail on Earth
Each religion flag had a big silver circle with a small symbol of that religion in the center. The Other flag had a NASA picture of the earth from space on it and the Yet to Come flag had the silver circle with a blank circle in the center.
Also The World Peace Prayer Society has created Peace Poles with the words "May Peace Prevail on Earth" on them in at least 4 languages (and they offer quite a variety!). This year there was a Peace Pole among the other symbols at the service. The WPO also makes small (7" and 20") poles for use on altars and such. I would really like to see these included in the Goddess 2000 Spiral Dance rituals! I also intend to dedicate a Peace Pole in my own yard when I do the dedication ritual for my mural. Mine will have English, Spanish and Vietnamese (the languages of my neighborhood) and Gaelic (the language of my ancestors).
I am feeling so energized and excited about the melding of these projects! It is time for all men and women of the earth to seek to an end violence - to the violence between people in homes and in the streets, the violence between ethnic and religious groups, the violence of war within and between countries, the violence against the earth and against all the lives with whom we share this earth. I think that we who recognize the divinity of the earth and her creatures and that the divine is both male and female have a real role to play in helping to manifest this ideal.
May the Goddess image on every block aid in bringing Peace to Prevail on Earth. So Mote It Be!