By Caroline Uchima
I lived in Japan for almost 20 years, and I first saw a Peace Pole at my local shrine. (Every area in Japan has its local Shinto shrine, with an ancient tree presiding as the sacred guardian of the Shrine and neighbourhood) I was surprised because the message “May Peace Prevail on Earth” was in English as well as Japanese. I felt a little ripple of hope and pleasure that someone had made the effort to plant this symbol in such an unobtrusive and gentle way. After that I started to see Peace Poles everywhere - in Buddhist temples, on street corners, in public parks and even at the top of a mountain I climbed. I eventually discovered that groups of volunteers from the World Peace Prayer Society (WPPS) were responsible for planting these Peace Poles. I loved that the message was silently rippling out in harmony wherever it happened to be.
I was a busy working mother of three children, but I still wanted to contribute to changing our global civilization to a culture of peace, freedom, equality and harmony in diversity, and I thought that planting Peace Poles was a manageable something that I could DO. So I became a volunteer, and this is what led to me to finally coming back to my country of birth, Scotland. In 1998, the WPPS established a European Sanctuary in South West Scotland, Allanton Sanctuary, and I was honoured and thrilled to be asked to work here. One of our main activities now is making and supplying Peace Poles. (See photos - His Holiness dedicating the Peace Pole in Dunfermline, Scotland; and, The 12- language Peace Pole at Allanton Sanctuary.)
In January 2013, we planted a Peace Pole in the centre of Glastonbury, one of the most famous sacred spots in the UK. The event was organised by the Glastonbury Pilgrim Centre. After lighting six sacred flames in the town hall, including the Hiroshima flame, we dedicated a Peace Pole outside in front of the Abbey. It stands in a place where all the visitors to Glastonbury can be blessed by the message of the Peace Pole in eight languages. The Peace Pole is right beside the newly planted Glastonbury Holy Thorn Tree.
In January 2013, we planted a Peace Pole in the centre of Glastonbury, one of the most famous sacred spots in the UK. The event was organised by the Glastonbury Pilgrim Centre. After lighting six sacred flames in the town hall, including the Hiroshima flame, we dedicated a Peace Pole outside in front of the Abbey. It stands in a place where all the visitors to Glastonbury can be blessed by the message of the Peace Pole in eight languages. The Peace Pole is right beside the newly planted Glastonbury Holy Thorn Tree. (See photo - The Mayor of Glastonbury plants a Peace Pole beside the Holy Thorn.)
A few years ago, my son went on a volunteering project to Ghana for three months. Before leaving, he made a big point of telling us that this was it, we wouldn’t be hearing from him for three months. He was cutting himself off from his family and the rest of world. Two days later, we had a phone call from him, ‘Mum, Guess what I saw!!! A Peace Pole!!’ There it was, in the middle of Accra, at President Kwame Nkrumah’s Memorial, a Peace Pole. He was very impressed that Peace Poles could be found so far from home.
Peace Poles remind me that people all over the world want the same thing. The fervent wish to create a new civilization of peace on earth is in the hearts of the peoples of all nations. They connect us in a growing web of hope, peace and love. (See photo - This is one of my favourite Peace Poles, in the children’s wildlife garden at Allanton.)
May Peace Prevail on Earth
Director of Allanton Sanctuary, The World Peace Prayer Society, Scotland
Caroline Uchima lives at Allanton Sanctuary with her husband. They have two daughters and a son who embrace the cultures of Japan and the UK. Caroline is the Director of Allanton Sanctuary which serves as the World Peace Prayer Society office in Scotland, UK. Caroline and her colleagues at Allanton are especially interested in developing programmes that support young people and children as we shift into the new consciousness.
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This article appears in:
2014 Catalyst, Issue 13: Peace Poles - International Day of Peace