Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Planting a Peace Pole

No it is not a phallic symbol. Could be, sub-consciously, but no one wants it to be so. It's not a rocket or an arrow. It is not a “Festivus” pole. That would be aluminum and is about feats of strength and declarations of disappoint-ments.  This is wood and is a marker saying “Here is a place of peace.”

We dedicated this one at the UUA congregation in Queensbury NY Sunday. We even had a rabbi to bless it. The peace committee that tackled and completed the project admitted that they argued about many things before they settled on a design and location. Ironic and fitting.

These peace poles are all over the place. Several churches I have served had them. Now I learn that it is a movement that came out of Japan as a response to the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It is the work of the World Peace Prayer Society. Read about it here. There are more than 200,000 of them planted all over the world.

The prayer is simple and non-sectarian: “May peace prevail on earth.” We learned the word for peace in 19 languages, printed on the pole. The local native Abenaki word is “kamignokawogan.” A turtle, which is the Abenaki symbol for the earth is on the pole. So is a whale, a lamb, and another creature I forget.

Maybe you saw the Oneida nation float in the Macy’s parade. It is a turtle, with a pine tree, topped by an eagle, the essential religious symbols of the Algonquin confederacy. We have a large metal turtle above our fireplace.

Hey, I can use the mast from my small sailboat as a Festivus pole!

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