The year 9-1-1 happened, I found myself on a 27 hour journey to the Washington, D.C. a week after the attacks. I was going there to attend the Prayer Vigil for Peace. This was my first trip the capital, a place I had once been afraid to visit because the crime rate was so high. But I faced my fear, stepped into the seat of conflict as it appeared in the U.S., and sat with people who traveled from far off countries to join me in asking for solidarity.
Prayer Vigil for Peace (a link to the gallery)
Yorba Water Ceremony (a picture of me at the Vigil at a ceremony that changed my life….I am the brunette in the back row of on-lookers, just behind the woman in blue with long black hair. I am standing next to a blonde, my friend Erin.)
That trip began a personal dedication to supporting peace in many of its forms. This commitment shows up in my career as a domestic violence counselor, is modeled in my personal life through the cultivation of positive nurturing relationships, and sometimes takes me into the public eye as an artist and poet for social justice.
The poem that follows was written for a Peace Vigil which took place at a local bayside park a few years ago. I share it today, because as the Art of Collecting Yourself develops into the site I want it to be, it becomes ever more important to me that I allow it to reflect those things that are close to my heart. Creativity for the sake of social justice is high on that list.
My artist eye peers across the Web of Time
to moments when I stood beside
a man or woman, boy or girl
in whose true nature,
woeful stories could not hide
the Beautiful Truth of human kind.
At first thought my mind might like
to call the faces of peace out from those legends
of whom we each sing:
Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr..
And although I honor these rich saints,
peace lives closer to me than these.
I first found big peace in a sacred circle-
a Vigil for Peace, in Washington, D.C.
Tribal members of the Original Nations
opened their council to the prayers of people
far and wide.
and even a Texan or two.
We ate each other’s food,
drank water from stranger’s hands,
cried together, sang together,
and danced the prayers of many lands.
As I think back to that time-
when the world stood in chaos,
we who gathered in the Peace,
Now I look out on the faces here,
and it gives me hope.
Let me call you my people.
Be my brother or sister,
you whose skin glistens there in the sun a bit
differently than mine.
Let me call you Grandmother, Grandfather.
Even though we share no genes I know I could learn
from what you’ve seen.
Might we call this a sacred place?
This park where one or more gathers
in the name of peace?
Look to your neighbor-
Do you dare do it now?
Turn to your side and make a communion
of sharing what we dare not hide,
lest we block what is to be our saving Grace.
Choose today to give our cause a face.
The Portrait of Peace
it’s there before you,
this stranger, that elder, your innocent child.
Reach within you;
find the courage to look someone new in the eyes-
that is how Peace is fought for-
person to person,
starting with you.
This is the nature of the war on war.
Together we’ll become a weapon of mass communion,
give the world a love transfusion.
Kindness breeds kindness.
Let it start today,
here in this park.
Like a budding lotus flower,
it’s fragrance hypnotic and wild.
Take a breath,
open your heart,
and just simply
dare to share
Peace begins when one person dares to connect from their heart with the heart of another. And Peace Talks aren’t just for world leaders; they are for you and me. Where are you connecting with others? How are you cultivating a Culture of Peace in your life? I would love to hear from you. Let’s talk PEACE!