Chicago, Illinois (Diana Kenney reporting)
The Chicago branch of the School of Metaphysics hosted an Interfaith Celebration of the Universal Hour of Peace. Representatives from the Baha’i faith, Jeremy Lambshead, and Christ Universal Temple, Reverend Linda Oglesby, offered a prayer or blessing of peace traditional to their faith. A New Years Prayer from the Brahma Kumaris was also read. “It was important to me to make sure that the Chicago School of Metaphysics branch pursues the interfaith relationships begun at [the] Parliament [of the World’s Religions],” said Dr. Laurel Clark, President of the School of Metaphysics and Director of the North Region, when describing the need for the Universal Hour of Peace event in Chicago. Clark met Oglesby at Melbourne, Australia during the Parliament in December 2009 and invited her to the Hour of Peace event then.
To begin the burning bowl ceremony, the power of thought was discussed. Then participants burned the thoughts they wrote down on paper, releasing these old thought forms and habits. A prayer around the burning embers the released thought forms was shared. The replacement thoughts were affirmed by lighting a candle. Those comfortable doing so shared thoughts they released and thought forms they affirmed. “What a wonderful way to start the New Year!” exclaimed Renee, a student at the Chicago School of Metaphysics. “First you recall all that you want to leave behind, commit it to paper and then a flame. Next you write your ideal for the New Year and seal it with lighting a candle.”
Dr. Clark lead a meditation on peace, gave the history of the Universal Peace Covenant and lead the One Voice reading of it at midnight. Food was served as social interaction spread joy and happiness. “The Universal Hour of Peace was celebrated with openness and love,” remarked Michael, another student. “Our celebration included perspectives from various [faiths], each with similar fundamental values.” He went on to say, “A key insight explored through our evening was the cohesion…developing with the world between different races and people, enhancing our natural progression toward peace.”
Others offsite joined the Celebration. Many copies of the Universal Peace Covenant were sent out and people were asked to read it as the clock struck midnight wherever they were. One student made origami peace cranes and sent them to family and friends with copies of the Peace Covenant. Phiroz Hoda, whom Clark met volunteering at the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Melbourne, Australia, promised to translate the Peace Covenant into several languages. Even in response to event promotion, Clark said she, “received a lovely email from a woman at a Brahma Kumari meditation center, saying that they would read the Universal Peace Covenant at their meditation at midnight.”
“This event provided the experience for me to gain knowledge and a deeper understanding about visualization,” concluded Diana Kenney, Director of the Chicago branch of the School of Metaphysics. “One of the things I most treasure about the School is the space to intentionally create experiences and opportunities for learning.”
“What I learned about myself is how important it is to me to serve people's needs,” Clark said. “Focusing on the needs of other people stimulates my creative mind into action. I want to get much better at teaching this to other people.” Because so much teaching occurs by example, Clark said, “I can focus on doing what I know…and make sure other people are with me to learn by being with me.”
Des Moines, Iowa (Tracey Erickson reporting)
The Peace Ball event was planned with peace and harmony in mind, and that is exactly what it produced. The ball started with School of Metaphysics teacher Rory Colgan introducing the School and giving a short explanation of the event and what it means to have peace and harmony. Afterward Tracey Erickson was introduced to explain how we created the event from a thought. Once the background information was given, Colgan introduced Jim and Susie, the professional dance instructors to teach the outer harmony. We were about to learn how to create with one another!
First, we started learning the meringue, which was most popular amongst the beginners, who were learning how to move our bodies in harmony with a partner to salsa type music. Jim was a good teacher and leader for his partner. Their dancing looked effortless. After getting the main steps down we added music and then more steps.
Next, we learned the foxtrot, a dance where you don’t look your partner in the eyes. The woman must trust her partner to lead her backwards without tripping over people and chairs or crashing into the wall and watch out for the feet! While walking forward and leading the woman backwards, it’s easy for the man to step on the ball of his belle’s toes!
The final dance we learned was swing. This dance is simultaneously simple and complicated. The leader does the same step over and over while the lady swirls and twirls around while back stepping at just the right moment.
Between lessons we refreshed ourselves with food and beverages in the Ruby Ballroom next to the Emerald Ballroom where we were dancing. This was the time to laugh and share what we learned and get to know each other. At 11:30 pm, Colgan read the Peace Proclamation from Chet Culver, Governor of Iowa. Then we practiced our moves again before the midnight, One Voice reading of the Universal Peace Covenant, ringing in the New Year. This was when we really received the message of peace after dancing the night away and creating harmony with another person to the beat of music.
Looking around the room that, the Peace Ball was a huge success! There were countless smiles the whole night through, and everyone left with something they didn't have before.
(Christine Spretnjak reporting)
Celebration of Peace
The evening began with Director Christine Spretnjak’s opening message that peace is achieved by those who fulfill their part of a greater plan and that peace is built through communication.
The opening was followed by four Indianapolis peacemakers invited to sit on a panel:
Kathryn Hessler: US Department of Peace
Ian McIntosh: IUPUI Anthropology Professor. Rotary Peace Fellow 2010
Linda Proffitt: Executive Director Global Peace Initiatives
Chuck Reynolds: Ordained Minister: Oneness Blessing Giver
Guests enjoyed food such as gourmet pizza, vegetables and hummus, shrimp cocktail, wieners, cakes and cookies as well as connecting with one another. Jason Bundy interpreted dreams for a captive audience from 10:00 - 11:15 PM. Chuck Reynolds delivered a Oneness Blessing Meditation from 11:30-11:55 PM and the One Voice Universal Peace Covenant Reading was at midnight.
What was created was a magical evening where people experienced peace and connection with one another. The feeling between many was one of familiarity, making new and fast friends. The entire evening was fluid, flowing and there was grace in the way each planned activity moved into the next it was a dance.
Palatine, Illinois (Kimberlee Otto reporting)
In Palatine we gave Conscious Acts of Kindness in our community. Eight of our students went out in two groups to different parts of town. They used their intuition and Universal Law in selecting people to give School of Metaphysics published books. One woman had just remembered a dream for the first time in a long while and received a book on dreams! This experience demonstrated the fundamentals of how we each think. Those that readily set goals gave their books away quickly while others who are naturally more intuitive invested more time and thought to give their gift. Overall it was a wonderful connecting experience.
Urbana, Illinois (Adrienne Weber reporting)
The New Year's Eve party at the Channing-Murray Foundation Vegetarian Restaurant, the Red Herring, was a memorable experience. The potluck dinner was delicious and plentiful. Afterwards the real fun began with a follow-the-leader icebreaker each participant, taking turns as a leader, expressed themselves freely. Then we were all eager to connect with one another. Forming two lines we faced each other. With right hands out toward the person across from us, we felt the energy between our palms. It felt good to acknowledge the outer flow of energy that continuously comes from within. We played some lively music, danced, and then began drumming, an experience which escalated to what seemed like a tribal ceremony. We drummed on anything and everything we could find, creating some wonderful sounds!
As we neared the midnight hour, our thoughts quieted down, and the direction of the party moved to peace. We wove our lights together in a dance, where we held candles to represent our inner light. We felt and saw the impact of bringing our lights together, forming brightness. Moving more inward, we each picked a candle to light and received a message from the Universal Peace Covenant. At midnight we read the Covenant in unison and sent our circle of love and light out into the universe, experiencing connectedness and peace in the New Year. Those who came were grateful for spending New Year's Eve in peace and joy.