It’s hard to believe the 15th Prayer Vigil is now in the past, as the love that flowed through it still resonates. For all of you who weren’t there physically, you were with us inspirit. The Vigil began with a soft, clear sunrise on Sat, Oct. 20, after powerful rain and wind blew through the night before, sending tipis and canopies flying – beyond the Washington Monument! All the work by those who set up, tossed up like a salad. But at dawn, as the sacred fired was lighted, it was calm. The peace pipe was passed as we gathered in a circle and Clyde Bellecourt, Ojibway Nation, and Sharon Franquemont, Prayer Vigil co-founder, led us into this Prayer Vigil. It was the beginning of an amazing 33 hours of oneness and mindfulness; joyfulness and respect; energy and peace. We were in a community that welcomed all, open and safe.
The sun shone upon us during theday, a gleaming crescent moon was suspended above at night. As the tipis andother structures were put back together, circles of sharing and prayer and music took shape. The greetings of the drums pulsated – First Nation, Africanand Japanese Taiko. As always, ceremonies flowed throughout the 33 hours.The moist earth softened and dried beneath our moving feet. Sage and tobacco burning in the sacred fire sweetened the air. The honoring of Rabiah Rayford, who blessed the Prayer Vigil for many years withher vibrant song and dance and who passed on this past April, was followed by the beautiful Zoroastrians in white chanting, the blessings of children by Mother Mary Sunbeam -- then the amazing children playing the Taiko drums of Shinji Shumeikai!
A wonderful array of people participated in the World Peace Prayer Flag Ceremony -- including a homelessman who delighted in it – naming the countries of the world as they carried colorful flags waving in the wind, shining in the sun. And so many voices happily rose together for the Prayer Vigil Song, and people shook rattles and bells and danced during the drumming circles. Rev. Sydney Byrd led the Christian prayer. Later the Circle of Compassion, created by Rev.Betsy Stang, Prayer Vigil co-founder, kept expanding as people joined to offer their words for peace. People mindfully walked the magical labyrinth, marked by 500 wild turkey feathers, throughout the Vigil. There were the soothing and graceful dancing of the Universal Dance of Peace.
As dusk gently settled, the Sufis had people chanting and dancing with great energy. Youth from the KPC Buddhist Center led the participants in chant and prayer accompanied by drums. Later, Rabbi David Schneyer led Jewish song and dance. The night ended with a corn meal offering to Mother Earth led by Lakota Haise Frazier. As always, there were moving prayers by the fire during the night for those living, passed and for the world.
Following the honoring of the Fire Keepers and morning peace pipe ceremony led by Dorien Day, there were Christian services, breaking the bread, and a ceremony to heal and honor the Middle East with Christians, Muslim and Jews. The chanting Sufis returned, offering prayers as the sun flowed over the Vigil. The community then passed under the canopy of compassion and received sweet, sacred dates and water, and formed a line where love was shared in many languages and strong, warm hugs. We offer deep gratitude and appreciation to those who worked so hard. See you next year on Oct. 18-19, 2008.
© Prayer Vigil for the Earth