By Marcus Lorenzo Penn
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” -Margaret Mead
On September 8th, the peaceful, natural, connected surroundings of the Anubhuti Retreat Center in Novato supported our Peaceful World Picnic. The event’s themes of “Appreciation, Inspiration and Communication” truly set the tone for our gathering. On this warm sunny day in the North Bay, climate change was on the mind for many of our grantees who attended the San Francisco Climate Change March. As the little girl on stage blew bubbles, we were subtly reminded that our intention was to be together celebrating our peace building efforts.
The crowd was enthusiastically greeted by the co-founder and co-producer of the Peace in the Park Festival in San Francisco, Janardhan Chodagam. This was particularly significant given that the Peaceful World Foundation (PWF) has sponsored the festival for the last three years. In collaboration with the Summer of Love 50th Anniversary, the Peace in the Park Festival celebrated its last run in 2017. Today’s peaceful world picnic was organized in joint efforts with the Brahma Kumaris, Creative Canopy and the Peaceful World Foundation in a symbolic passing of the ‘Peace Baton’. Among those present were the Executive Director of RISE Yoga for Youth, PWF’s Board Member David Whitridge, Elia Pochron CEO of the Creative Canopy, Sister Elizabeth of the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual Organization, Chris Bryden and his band, many special friends and family, young and old.
Honored by the opportunity to support everyone in coming together to form a Global Peace Prayer Circle, I lead the opening prayer. I spoke to peace here at home and abroad, peace for those whose voices haven’t been heard, peace for those whose stories needed to be told, peace for those countries that have been oppressed and peace for those hearts that need to be touched. In conclusion, we were reminded that peace starts at home and within ourselves. In order for there to be any lasting effects, coming together served as a great reminder that we all have work to do as peacemakers, peacekeepers and peace lovers. With everyone holding hands, the carried vibration was palpable. So much so, that we became a beacon, sending waves of peace reaching to those far and wide.
Immediately following our prayer, we had a group opportunity to get to know and introduce our fellow peacemakers within the circle. We were asked to say where we would like to live if we could live anywhere in the world. Hawaii, not surprisingly, was said numerous times. Paris was mentioned as well as the fjords of Norway and a small town in Ireland. However, somewhat surprisingly, nearly half of the people in the circle said they would stay right here in the Bay Area! (Marin, San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose). Given that many in attendance were peace workers in some capacity, having said that the Bay Area is where they call home demonstrates that the majority of us are “at peace” with where we live acknowledging that “peace starts at home.”
Peace was also brought to the many musical offerings of the day. Chris Bryden’s band offered such songs like “Be Love” and “Be the Light”. A little girl sung a song making her case to be president of our country while advocating for peace, a spoken word freestyle from our DJ and sound man, Brandon Medolina, as well as lovely songs sung by Sister Elizabeth. During these uplifting activities, many attendees were either eating good food from the vegetarian potluck or were engaged under the various activity tents. Children and adults were having their faces painted, making arts and crafts, creating their personal masterpieces in watercolors and vision boards, sharing poetry and stories, and truly enjoying themselves.
In conjunction with the Global Climate Action Summit being held in San Francisco September 12-14, 2018, Sister Elizabeth announced two related upcoming talks with special guest speaker Golo Pilz:
- A September 11th 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. talk at Anubhuti Retreat Center on “Solutions to Climate Change: A Spiritual Perspective”
- September 13th 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. talk at Brahma Kumaris Meditation Center, San Francisco on “Raise Awareness for the Transition To Clean Energy.”
Our attendees were offered opportunities to continue the global conversation on Climate Change.
One of the most memorable highlights of the day that brought peace and stillness to all participants was the crystal singing bowl demonstration from Kim Le. Everyone appeared to be in suspended animation as Kim gently tapped and caressed her crystal singing bowls. Many people had their eyes closed, others sat down in a meditative pose, while others watched and listened as if in an almost hypnotic healing sound vibration.
For the day’s last offering, some of the participants chose to continue and spread the peaceful vibrations by joining Janardhan Chodagam as he led a nature walk around the lush grounds of the Anubhuti Retreat Center. We were surrounded by beautiful eucalyptus and fruit trees as well as vibrant wetlands home to such waterfowl as ducks, geese and egrets. The entire day’s experience gave everyone attending a multitude of options to access the peace within themselves. The gift is this was not done in isolation, but rather in supportive community. Our event encouraged everyone to “think peace globally and act peace locally.”
I would like to take this opportunity to introduce myself. A native to San Francisco and an avid world traveler, I have been privy to and seen the need for many conversations reflective of the diversity of life, living and interconnections. As the newest member of the Peaceful World Foundation family, I will be supporting the organization and Program Director, Heidi Majano through co-facilitation and planning of upcoming Peaceful World Conversations as well as sharing in our blog here. It is my joy and pleasure to be of peaceful service in this capacity.