By Pamela Skarda
There are coincidences in life that we come to see are not coincidences. Such was my experience one overcast November 2003 afternoon in Washington, DC as I approached the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial off Dupont Circle to meet a young man named Jonathan from Iowa--who was making Steps for Peace across America to demonstrate by his life’s actions--that “there is another way” beyond what now seems to be an almost perpetual world state of conflict and violence. To my left at the monument stood a distinguished looking man with his wife. He was stately, yet humble and seemingly supportive of the young man’s efforts to speak about the United States’ recent invasion of Iraq. Little did I know at that time what an impact the friendship I developed with this man would have on not only my life, but on countless other lives. After a brief conversation, I came to learn that my new acquaintance was U.S. Ambassador (ret.) John W. McDonald, the originating founder of the United Nations International Day of Peace—the man who conceived the Day by penning its enabling legislation.
Nearly twelve years earlier and only a few blocks away from the Gandhi Memorial, my life also took an abrupt turn-of-fate when I was brutally attacked by a man the night before Thanksgiving--in all places—walking down the sidewalk in front of the prestigious hotel The Four Seasons. The man who attacked me had recently been released from prison and was strung up on a heroin fix. Fortunately, while being beaten, a man passing by saw that I was in danger and came to rescue me—only minutes later to have the crime scene covered with D.C. Police. This experience led me to return to the church of my upbringing the following Sunday as I entered the doors of Capitol Hill United Methodist Church for the first time. It was there that I befriended the minister who put me on my path and introduced me to the works of Marianne Williamson and Neale Donald Walsch, both who profoundly influenced my life’s course.
Spiritually motivated, outraged by the invasion of Iraq, and meeting the young man from Iowa and Ambassador McDonald, I was inspired to issue a press release, “Praying for Peace” at the Daughters of the American Revolution Constitution Hall before Al Gore spoke to a full house in November 2003. The statement which I issued somehow found itself onto a United Nations web site. In 2004, I was called by the Executive Director of the Global Coalition for Peace who had read the article, to see if I would be willing to produce and direct the world’s first Peace Parade in honor of the United Nations International Day of Peace in Washington, DC. I gladly accepted the role. The event proved very successful with hundreds of people attending. Embassy Row was blocked off so 15 Peace Parade floats, performers, marchers, singers, dancers, and people of every persuasion could parade for peace.
These life experiences called me back to being a Co-Producer of this year’s International Day of Peace Celebration—for an even greater celebratory undertaking on the U.S. Capitol’s Lawn—and also an with an even greater awareness and spiritual maturation than before. Joined by seven other Co-Producers who outwardly are from very divergent walks of life, yet are inwardly unified by the common bond that the present state of world circumstances is not sustainable; we collectively came together to create a U.N. Peace Day celebrating the evolution as a species we are presently undergoing--as we are collectively being birthed into the reality that we are profoundly connected as One.
If asked upon embarking on this project eight weeks ago by Catalyst, what drove my involvement in the Capitol production, my answer would have been, “To help foster global awakening into Oneness and to illustrate to our nation and world in one of the most prominent places possible, that a new day is truly dawning. That Eckhart Tolle’s New Earth is truly taking root on the U.S. Capitol’s Lawn as global consciousness shifts into Oneness--Oneness lived not as a mental concept, but Oneness directly experienced as a stateless state of consciousness rooted as awakened Consciousness itself. That that ever Present Presence, in and of itself, is the true origin of all peace. And, that the rapidly growing numbers living from this newly awakened reality are our world’s true transformative agents.”
But as time progresses and the U.N. Peace Day celebration nears its September 21, fruition, I find my answer morphing to an equally important, but more simplistic driver: Brotherly and Sisterly Love. For as I walk the Capitol’s grounds to prepare for the celebration, I am drawn to the West Lawn’s steps where U.S. President after U.S. President has issued his inaugural address—all with the hope of his administration making societal advancement and betterment.
It is from this vantage point that I envision my friend Ambassador McDonald offering his upcoming opening remarks about the origins of the International Day of Peace--and for a moment, I visualize what will be his vantage point as he overlooks the crowd of celebrants at the Capitol--and the celebrants from around the globe being Livestreamed on the West Lawn’s screen. In this instant, it is my sincere hope that our collective efforts will bring a smile to his 91 year-old face—to know that in seeing this magnificent sight—that his life has been well-lived and well-served.
For his dream of world peace is also my dream of world peace--and that our dream is also all of humanity’s dream too. For John Lennon’s lyrics of “Imagine” are no longer being left to the imagination—nor increasingly is holding a vision or dream for global peace even necessary—for the dream is now being fulfilled in the collective Awakening of humanity to its true nature. For in truth, Peace is the only Truth there truly is. Precisely, it is the “Peace that has no Name” that creates and binds us all together, and which is constantly calling us back home to our true inheritance as the One Love, One Peace, and One Joy.
Whereever you are in the world on U.N. Peace Day--September 21, join in this celebration!
Pamela Skarda, a native of the Heartland, has lived in the Greater Washington Capital region for the past 25 years as a public affairs, marketing, and non-profit professional.
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This article appears in:
2013 Catalyst - Issue 16