On this sunny Kingston morning, people of all different faiths and backgrounds gathered in front of Lake Ontario to express and celebrate peace.
Laura Maracle of Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre in Queen's University opened with a smudge ceremony and traditional prayer of gratitude, first in the Mohawk language and then the English translation.
All of us were given the opportunity to cleanse our mind and spirit with the sacred sage plant.
Father Shawn Hughes, Rector of St. Mary's Cathedral in Kingston offered a poigniant prayer; "...in a world torn by strife and discord, make us ready for reconciliation. Renew for us the wonders of your mercy: send forth your Spirit that He may work in the intimacy of all hearts, that enemies may begin to dialogue, that adversaries may shake hands and peoples may encounter one another in harmony. May all commit themselves to the sincere search: for true peace which will extingush all arguments; for charity which overcomes hatred; for pardon which disarms revenge..."
Dr. Hisham Elbatarny of the Islamic Society of Kingston sang a melodious Arabic prayer and offered the English translation as well; "Oh Lord, reconcile between our hearts with love and understanding and resolve our broken affairs. Guide us towards the paths of peace and save us from the darkness of ignorance and guide us to the brightness (of truth and understanding)... Peace and Love to all now and forever, Amen."
Kantilal Naran, representing the Hindu Community, offered a chant from the Upanishads; "Asato mā sad gamaya tamaso mā jyotir gamaya mṛtyor mā amṛtaṁ gamaya" and the English translation; "Lead me from the unreal to the real, lead me from darkness to light, lead me from death to immortality."
James Stayer, of Kingston's Reform Jewish Congregation offered a Hebrew prayer wishing peace for all mankind. He also prayed specifically for peace in the Holy Land of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths.
Paramita Jarvis, representing the Kingston Sri Chinmoy Centre, offered the following prayer:
"O dreamers of peace, come.
Let us walk together.
O lovers of peace, come,
Let us run together.
O servers of peace, come.
Let us grow together. "
Don and Frank from the Baha'i faith offered their silent prayers and wishes for peace on the torch.
Imad, of the Islamic Community, along with his beautiful children, offered the simple greeting "Salaam alaikum" or "Peace be unto you".
Nada holds the torch with sister Lubna behind.
Salil thanked everyone for their kind words and spoke about the message of the Peace Run. He expressed that; "It is people like you that enable us to live in a world that is receptive to the Peace Run, you create the environment in which we can run with the torch and carry this message."
Alina Mahayasham, organiser of the event, takes a moment with the torch.
After the ceremony, we walked to City Hall together through the charming streets of Kingston.
At City Hall, we were welcomed by Mayor Mark Gerretsen.
He offered kind words of encouragement, stating that now is a crucial time to be thinking about and creating peace.
Mayor Gerretsen with the team!
We headed to LaSalle Mews to meet with MPP Sophie Kiwala.
We offered her a Certificate of Appreciation for her heartfelt and enthusiastic participation.
She kindly offered us a certificate commending the 27th year of the Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run.
We sang the Peace Run song for her.
MP Ted Hsu joined us, held the torch and offered many kind words.
MP Ted Hsu and MPP Sophie Kiwala hold the Peace Torch together.
Hladini Wilson, local coordinator for the Kingston region, holds the torch.
The next stop was the Kingston YMCA, where we did our presentation for a very energetic crew of day camp kids and counselors.
Sarah accepted a World Harmony "Jharna Kala" painting by Sri Chinmoy on behalf of the YMCA.
The Boys and Girls Club of Kingston had a particularly bright and attentive crowd waiting for us when we ran in.
Considering how young they were, they knew a lot about geography and did a great job guessing which countries the team members are from.
We passed the torch and the children were delighted to hold it.
We thanked them for being a part of the Peace Run and offered them their own World Harmony painting by Sri Chinmoy.
Everyone got together for a group shot before we had to depart. It was hard to leave as some of the children wanted to have races and show us how fast they could run!
The next stop was the ice cream shop for a cone of Kingston's finest!
Amburoha is in gelato heaven!
We ended the day with a lakeside barbeque picnic. Hladini and Paramita cooked up another great meal for us! Thank you so much for taking care of our team.
"Make me an instrument of thy Peace..." -St. Francis of Assisi
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Torch carried by Amburoha Davydova(Ukraine),
Arpan DeAngelo(United States),
Accompanied by Hladini Wilson, Paramita Jarvis, Alina Mahyasham