August 05, 2017

A Liturgy For World Peace

The Peace Mala Liturgy for World Peace held in Llandaff Cathedral on 20th July 2017 was more uplifting than anyone attending could possibly have expected.

The capabilities of Pam Evans, who devised the Peace Mala project, are considerable, and I had a fairly good understanding of what the day would bring, but in many ways I was unprepared for the effect it would have, not just on me, but on all who were gathered.

Immediately I could feel that the company would be good, but as the service started, and the heartrending melody of Karl Jenkins’ Benedictus (from The Armed Man) swelled through the lofty cathedral stones, there drifted in through the open doors, as if on a fledgling tide of universal harmony, the human emblems of every domination known to this lonely blue planet.

They passed under the statue of Christ designed by Jacob Epstein, himself the child of Jewish refugees, a welcoming Christ, serene, androgynous, a Christ for all people, and a fitting symbol for the momentous events quietly passing below.

If the rock from which these stones were hewn could move, the procession in all its colour, reaching out beyond these walls to an older consciousness, it’s resplendent robes of red and purple, sky blue, gold and orange, would have moved them.

Slowly they walked through the cathedral, and those gathered upon the seats turned, and watched, silently, and there was awe. It was like a dream as these visions proceeded as one in perfect harmony. It was a dream of what could be, what should be, and how we all can be the very best, compassionate, humans every one of us has the capacity to be.

I was not alone in experiencing a sudden, tear-jerking, sense of love. For a moment we were all one, encircled by a peculiar spirituality which drew us all closer. A feeling which lingers still, and that is the real point.

The Peace Mala Interfaith Community brought more than the earthly representatives of all the major religions, from Buddist to Jewish, Zoroastrian to Earth; it told of suffering, and pain, but above all it brought hope and the reinvigoration of a subtle wisdom rising from ancient spiritual practices buried under a broken world of empty celebrity, fast-food farming and rampant consumerism.

It was an unparalleled experience to watch the Sufi dervish whirling in perfect concentration in the centre of this great cathedral. As the dervish spun on the axis of his heart, he was accompanied by the soft singing voice of Sheikh Ahmad Dede which soared gently and surely into the highest places of the building, touching us all with his mystical entreaty to greater love.

Many children were present, themselves in receipt of the Peace Mala teachings and the colourful bracelets of 14 bright beads representing the 14 major religions. They sang and rejoiced, recited their poems and thoughts, and brought us the message of the peace mala bracelet. We witnessed their drawings of the journey of the Peace Mala dove across the world, stopping at the centres of religion in every country. The children, too, felt the awe.
Spiritual and organic human survival face the combined challenges of climate change, debt based monetarism and the wholesale promotion of fear. Yet this day of unity showed that if we can empty our minds of the clamour of misunderstanding, and just for one moment – even for just one moment – embrace the unity of all things living, new possibilities can arise.

I am an atheist, and have been all my adult life. I feel no need to shout about it because but I know every one of us seeks connection in one form or another in this chaotic world. Peace Mala bravely strikes out to embody those connections. The courage of the Dean of Llandaff to enable this event is remarkable, and I honour every single person who took part in this shared celebration of glorious unity.

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