Prayer at Stonhenge
The Gathering Place
The gathering will be at Stonehenge this first time. We all hold our breath and pray for clear skies, no bomb threats, no fly-overs, for a peaceful evening. The security at the airport was amazing as these spiritual leaders disembarked from their planes. It was one of the few times reporters and photographers were banned from an airport for an entire day. It was part of the agreement.
As each of the spiritual leaders of each of the countries left the planes they traveled on, they looked excited and exhilarated. Their heads were held high and they had a purpose. As for me, I am an organizer and not a participant. I watch as these leaders walk through the airport from my vantage point against a wall. The agreement was there would be no fanfare, no meeting, no greeting. It is not a political gathering. It is an experiment: The Stonehenge experiment.
It is an eclectic group. One woman who passes takes my breath away. She is the most beautiful woman I have ever seen in my life. Her face glows with beauty and peace. She is like a bride, radiant in her floor length gown and turban, looking neither left nor right, walking with purpose.
A man who I recognize as another spiritual leader from another country follows her, walking slowly. He is very old. He is overweight and walks slowly to accommodate his girth. His face is kind. He is someone I would smile at in my everyday life, expecting a smile in return. In his pocket is a tiny dog, staring about as they move through the airport. He reaches down to pat the dog on the head and says a word or two to it.
The man who comes behind them is so well known in the world that he causes the people to stare. As some of the airport crowd try to approach him, he holds up a hand to stop them, yet it is done with a smile and with kindness. He said once, "My religion is kindness." He walks on, emanating peace and goodwill.
The Time Is Near
This airport scene was earlier today. Now it is almost time. My palms perspire with nervous anticipation and excitement. I have positioned myself far from the gathering site, from the rock formations which have endured for so many years here at Stonehenge and which were said to have been the site of gatherings such as this. Just as the sun disappears, a figure walks out. It is impossible to tell whether it is a man or woman. The robes were chosen just for that purpose, covering everything, including most of the participants' faces. They are a cream color and stand out in the waning light of dusk. More and more figures appear and join the first. They sit close to each other in a circle surrounded by the rock formations. One breaks apart from the group and stands, making a gesture, the bowing of a head, then every head is bowed and the figure is seated again.
Let Us Begin
For one hour there is silence. It is a silence filled with hope. These holy people are praying for peace for their countries, many of those countries war torn and seeming beyond hope. Yet still they pray. They pray not only for their countries but for all the countries represented here and some that are not. They pray for world peace. Several of the older men and women grow tired from sitting on the ground and lie back, still praying as they face the star-studded heavens. I smile as I visualize all the goodness and love floating into the atmosphere above this special group of men and women.
After one hour has passed, the figures begin to slip away. For one hour, they have forgotten their differences. They have forgotten their philosophical differences as well as their political differences, and they have prayed together for the life of the planet and for each other. As they remove the robes and give them to me, I see white faces, yellow faces, brown and black faces; men and women, old and young, people of faith who for one hour had a common goal, that the world would know peace.
I am filled with hope as I look up at the stars above Stonehenge and wonder how far their prayers have reached and remember a bit of wisdom from an ancient book: Ask, and you shall receive. Is it possible?
Time will tell us. Incredible happenings begin in mundane ways. In a humdrum meeting of the United Nations, after a recitation about yet another act of violence and more lost life, a woman stood -- it matters not what country she is from -- and said: There is only one way to end this. She suggests a gathering such as this. At first no one spoke. A man said: You forget the Prayer Summit. It's been done. Nothing changed.
No, no, no, no, she says. The Prayer Summit was about the church and religion. This is about faith and only faith. Then she explained what she was proposing. There was total silence for a very, very long time. Then another woman said: She's right. Then another country chimed in and another and another and thus began the novel idea that there is power in unity, power in shared ideals, power in prayer, and power in love. Tonight is the beginning of a grand experiment.
A friend and confidante of mine remarked, when I told him about the project: There must be separation of church and state. I looked at him for a long time and then answered: Nothing has been said about church. Nothing has been said about religion. Churches and religions define our differences. That is neither right nor wrong; it is fact. This endeavor is about faith. Faith does not require defining. Our beliefs and our faith are where reality is created. The reality that will be created if this experiment is successful will be peace. My friend nodded his head and smiled. He understood.
These are my thoughts as I smoke my wretched cigarette. I loathe the habit but it calls to me still. You ask, Who are you? I am a magician of sorts, I suppose. I am old, so people listen to me. I was once important, so people listen to me. I know people, powerful people, and I know how to get things done, just like a magician, making reservations at Stonehenge, if you will. Why am I involved in this, you ask? Because I see the world imploding with violence: War, domestic violence, bullying, hate crimes, hate groups, hate-filled rhetoric. Because I know that if we don't intervene, it will be too late and those from other planets will exploit our weakness. One of the persons who helped me organize this event said: Yes, we have to fight violence. What can I reply to that statement? We must change our rhetoric. We must not fight anything. There is where the error lives. Our answers lie in power, but in the power of good and truth and light in any language in the world: In the power of love and peace and unity. Enough fighting. As I screamed at the joint chiefs this morning: It's not working! It's just not f-ing working.
Yes, I rub shoulders with important people. I have been urged for years to run for President. It's hard for some to understand that I prefer the role of kingmaker to that of king. I prefer being a magician. For some reason, the holders of power value my opinion and ask for it often. With this privilege comes an obligation. Tonight was the beginning of fulfilling that obligation out of gratitude for the life I've led and out of love for this incredible planet upon which we walk.
I shrug into my coat as the evening grows chilly. As I walk to the car where my driver waits, holding the door for me, I turn back once more and look up at the heavens over Stonehenge. I put up my collar, smile and say very loudly: Amen. My driver has that look of what's the old bastard up to now. I don't care. Tonight all is right with the world. Tonight the magic is working, and I am the magician.
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