Mother's Day—Standing for Peace

Sharon Mehdi's self-published pamphlet version of The Great Silent Grandmother Gathering: A Story for Anyone Who Thinks She Can't Save the World was sent to me by Betty Rothenberger who had been in Ashland and had the impulse to do so. It is a simple story that stirs the imagination and touches heartstrings. I got a "wouldn't it be wonderful, if…" feeling about how this could happen all over the world, and that, if women did this, it would be the beginning of a visible movement that could bring peace to the world. It is as if she like me were responding to the same message to "Gather the Women, Save the World."

I proposed to the Millionth Circle conveners that we stand in the park when were together for our annual Deepening (retreat) in Ashland because of my understanding that symbolic actions have an invisible effect (on the morphic field) as well as on the people who consciously do something for the meaning of it. Besides, the story took place in a fictionalized version of Ashland city park. Sharon had moved to Ashland with the intention of writing a book, and as it turned out the one she wrote was this one, not the book that she had intended. Meanwhile, the three organizers of the MC Deepening who live in Ashland were arranging a surprise. Sharon was invited to attend as a mystery guest. Sharon came into the circle, read the story to us and told us how the book came to be written and how her self-published pamphlet-booklet became published when the Penguin-Viking publisher's rep came by Bloomsbury Bookstore (the one place that sold it), heard how they kept running out of them, read it and voila! She had a major publisher.At the end of the retreat, we went to the city park in Ashland to enact Sharon Mehdi's story by standing in the park. To stand for even a short time with others in meditative silence with the intention that it mattered that we did this felt as if we were joining a vast deep and loving invisible field.

Sharon Mehdi, Onnolee Stevens & Jean Shinoda Bolen

Several weeks later, I was in Durango, Colorado and told the story of The Great Silent Grandmother Gathering. After I left, This is the message that I received from Mary Hardy: "On Mother's Day 48 of us gathered in the park on Main Street, including 4 men, 4 children, and 1 dog. Enough to form a big circle holding hands, sometimes in silent witness for peace, sometimes sharing poems and writings, grounded throughout with the Mother's Heartbeat drummed by a woman, ending with all singing 'Let there be peace on Earth, and Let it Begin with Me.' Very moving. Very reassuring: I am not alone. As I looked around that big, beautiful circle I thought, Jean is present with us. You very definitely are connected. Thank you for connecting so many of us who did not know each other."

Later in 2006, I went to Columbus, Ohio. Deb Ballam, Associate Provost of Ohio State University invited me to speak on Urgent Message From Mother and as she took me to the airport we talked about what she might do next, and I as I recall—in this conversation, I told her two stories. One about how women in Santa Barbara had organized a Mother's Day event on the beach next to the wharf, with the crosses in rows in the sand, each one for a specific soldier who had died in Iraq put up by Veterans for Peace—an event that had begun with one woman who had attended my talk, brought my book to two of her friends who became a circle of forty who put this event together (further magic happened: as I was reading Lessons from Wild Geese, I learned afterwards, that there was a collective holding of breath as a perfect V formation of geese flew overhead),

The second story was about Sharon Mehdi and her book, and how both Sharon and I happened to be in Santa Barbara on that Mother's Day. I told Deb a short version of the story and the "wouldn't it be wonderful…" possibilities, and this struck a chord in her--she said that she would get a copy of Sharon's book immediately and told me that Ohio State has a representative in every county, almost all of them women who could become involved. She let me off at the airport and then—Deb Ballam took off with the idea! The next time I saw here was at the United Nations as part of our 5WWC (5th Women's World Conference) delegation of 40—with thousands of Mother's Day Standing for Peace cards in the five official UN languages to pass out Deb Ballam's project feels as if it is becoming a movement. She has taken an idea and is running with it, having fun with it and in its meaning and further-rippling effect is making a difference.

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