By JUDY A. TOTTS
â€œLet there be peace on Earth, and let it begin with me â€¦ â€
Itâ€™s an old song, but its first line is at the heart of the current peace movement promoted by â€œFeast on Peace,â€ a program created by Montville Township resident Dee Curci, and recent programs presented at Unity of Medina One in Spirit based on the work of author Aman Motwane, â€œYes, You Can Change the World.â€ Motwane believes positive change for world must come from within, by changing oneself.
â€œHonoring all ideas for peace, thatâ€™s how the shift (toward peace) will happen,â€ Curci said as she looked out over the heart labyrinth framed by trees on the grounds of The Blessed Foundation. She believes even small gestures, like the people who walk the labyrinth and set a prayer intention of peace, make a difference.
â€œWe folded (origami) peace cranes and hung them around the labyrinth,â€ she said, her silvery, shoulder-length hair glinting in the sunlight. â€œI went out in early spring, and even after the long winter, one of the cranes was left, sitting in the center of the labyrinth.â€
The origami cranes became a symbol of peace after Sadako Sasaki, a young girl who developed from leukemia as a result of the bombing of Hiroshima, began to fold them. According to a Japanese legend, anyone who created 1,000 cranes would have their wish granted. Although Sadako died before she accomplished her task, her wish to live turned into a dream of peace.
â€œThis is something thatâ€™s bigger than self, itâ€™s about all of us,â€ Curci said. â€œGod is present in our lives, and we need to use that grace.â€
Inspired by Pope Benedictâ€™s request to fast for peace during Lent, she based her Feast on Peace program on the ancient practice and asks participants to give up something that is not peaceful in their lives for 40 days.
Traditional fasting meant limiting the amount of food eaten to create emptiness symbolizing a hunger for God. Curci offers alternatives to food-fasting that also open doors to a spiritual level. Some of her suggestions are:
o Fast from complaining and feast on appreciation.
o Instead of bitterness, try forgiveness.
o Fast from idle gossip and feast on silence that considers kindness.
o To put an ecological face on it, keep from harming the planet and â€œfeast on the beauty and abundance that has been entrusted to our care.â€
o And, to return to fasting the traditional way, take a break from fast foods and feast instead on â€œhealthy meals prepared at home and shared at your table in an atmosphere of peace, love and laughter.â€
â€œYou remove sour grapes, rotten apples and wormy things from food,â€ Curci said. â€œThis is removing them mentally, spiritually and physically, and it extends to the Earth. You look at yourself and ask, â€˜What am I feasting on thatâ€™s not good? What can I change?â€™ â€
She used the analogy of looking in a mirror and asking yourself how often you give your reflection kind thoughts.
â€œWhat if for 40 days you look into your eyes, beyond, to what is magnificent? What would happen if you extend that to others? You begin to go deeper day by day. You begin with self, and the intention of how we care for others is transformed.â€
Other suggestions for â€œthis holy intention to purge hatred, violence and all manner of harm from our livesâ€ include consciously intending to live peace each day, setting aside seven minutes to pray for peace and involving children, teens and families in addition to school, work and church communities.
It is Curciâ€™s hope that after completing one 40-day fasting cycle, people will select another fasting option and start a new cycle. As part of the project, she is beginning to search for â€œfeast on peaceâ€ in every language.
â€œItâ€™s an opportunity to join together, beyond barriers, beyond egocentric ideas, greed, hurt,â€ she said. â€œWe can come to see one another in peace, no matter how we follow the path.â€
She loves a revised version of the â€œPrayer of St. Francis of Assisiâ€ that is bold statement: â€œLord, I AM an instrument of thy peace. Where there is hatred, I AM love. Where there is injury, I AM healing. Where there is doubt, I AM faithful, and where there is darkness, I AM light. â€¦ â€
Totts may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-721-4063.
The Blessed Foundation, 6605 River Styx Road, Montville Township, offers several peace-centered programs:
o Feast on Peace, an initiative to take positive action to eliminate violence, will be held 1 to 3 p.m. Aug. 17. Each participant will receive a purple travel cup emblazoned with the Feast on Peace logo and an information packet. The cost of the program is $10 per person.
o Labyrinth Candlelight Walks for World Peace and Healing are held at 8 p.m. the third Thursday of the month, weather permitting, through October. There is no charge.
Dee and John Curci founded The Blessed Foundation in 2000. It is dedicated to the ministry of body, mind and spirit of all, regardless of spiritual or religion orientation, by providing a safe, sacred place for retreat, reflection, education and spiritual growth.
Two labyrinths and a solar-powered retreat house are available for use.
For more information, call 330-725-5456, e-mail DeeCurci@Blessed-Foundation.com or visit www.blessed-foundation.com.
Unity of Medina One in Spirit will hold a peace meditation at noon, 6 and 6:30 p.m. Aug. 6 in the meditation room of the Unity Life Enrichment Center at Williams on the Lake, 787 Lafayette Road, Medina.
For more information about Unityâ€™s programs, visit www.unityofmedina.org or call 330-764-7999.