Two Visions-of-Peace Postcards from England
While a sickly-minded minister named Terry Jones was threatening to burn the Koran in Florida, the Jubilee tube station line was closed in Central London because of potential trouble, and Oprah Winfrey was otherwise occupied taking a break contemplating her own retirement, peace happened. The wee butterfly quilt arrived at the Prime Meridian in Greenwich, England on September 11 at 1:59 PM, one minute shy of the scheduled time.
Saturday was not an easy day of travel for my trusty companions and me. Less hopeful peace butterflies fluttered in my head as more and more transportation difficulties ensued. After jump starting our car in Langport, we drove to the Heathrow airport's long-term parking lot #4 and parked downhill. Continuing our quirky journey to Greenwich, we caught the shuttle, boarded a bus playing loud Lady Gaga music, and switched to several alternative tube lines and finally, the light rail. Speedwalking through the village gathering my blisters along the way, we arrived at the Royal Observatory at the top of a long hill five and a half hours after we had started. The trip from Langport in Somerset to Greenwich in London had taken twice the expected time. Thusly, Roger and Karen Keady, John, and I planted our feet on the longitudinal line of O degrees, O minutes, and O seconds, known as the Prime Meridian of the World. Four smiling friends in blue peace shirts. Just us. Just right.
I felt giddy and appreciative for a year well spent as I stepped on this imaginary line of beginnings and endings. The perfect day heralded by rainbows sighted on the Thames right above Big Ben on our return trip.
Phileas Fogg would have been properly proud of our attitudes in handing tiny glitches along the way while soberly identifying with our conveyance problems and the importance of meeting exact deadlines on certain dates. Chuckling, I juxtaposed the fictional plot of Jules Verne's classic novel Around the World in 80 Days that my social studies students dramatized every year with my past year of traveling for peace.
On my real journey, the plot wrote itself and I certainly won no wager. However, by reaching the Prime Meridian, in my mind, I had completed a teacher's promise in a timely fashion. For a year, I took the butterfly quilt wherever I was invited to share children's visions of peace hoping that their words would inspire others to help build peace too. My pledge was completed on a significant date. What a great way to retire! Again.
Nine years ago terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City jarred the world. I remember another personal photo taken that year in August while I was standing on Ellis Island by the railing. The panoramic shot portrayed a closeup of my red-polished forefinger pointing at the Twin Towers in the Manhattan skyline one month before the attack. Unsettling. I remember hearing Bekah's frightened voice as she called from New York City on September 11 before we lost communication for days. She had just witnessed the second plane crashing into the second tower from the top of her Astoria brownstone. I remember another important date too. A happy one. Prime Meridian day for me was also Grandson Will Pierce's 5th birthday. He was probably home in Bend, Oregon hosting his Star Wars Party.
To Greenwich I had also carried two visions-of-peace postcards given by Sue and Susan from the UK. These token cards previewed a peace event organized by the cards' authors who were inspired by the Zillion Visions of Peace Project. An upcoming festival of peace will take place at a healing arts sanctuary in Manchester on September 21, the International Day of Peace. Visions continue to multiply.
Negatives. Positives. Disappointments. Delights. A year of unexpected immeasurable gifts of peace and serendipitous outcomes in places least expected.
In this final month of the quilt's journey, I plan to celebrate Marcee Long's "Peace Begins at Home" postcard vision. Final quilt stop #50 occurs at the Shedd Community Arts Center from September 27 to October 3 where it will be displayed as a quiet backdrop. In a much grander and classier style than I could ever have imagined, the building of peace visions will come alive on stage in a festival week of peace-filled performances by artists near and far. The outgrowth of these peacemaking volunteers' efforts will be the construction of a peace park commemorating the 24 U.S. Nobel Peace Laureates in Eugene, the only one of its kind. I believe that. Marcee believes that. John Attig , head of the American Nobel Peace Laureate Project believes that. Klaus Nobel himself believes it enough to personally dedicate the park and attend a fundraising gala on September 24.
Shasta Middle Schoolers believed that a peace park would be built two years ago. I'm proud of you, kids.
For information, see www.peaceparkevent.org.
(Note to Oprah Winfrey)
Oprah, you'll receive the postcards above and more from Manchester, all because of adolescents who dreamed larger dreams several years ago. Look for messages from Sommerton, England also. A group of 5-7 year old Rainbow Girls will draw their visions of peace for you because their Girl Guide Leader, Janet, heard about the million-visions-of peace project during the quilt's visit and will implement her version of peace visions just as Sue and Susan are doing.
By the way, I am pleased to report that I contacted your agent, Kevin Huvane, before I left for England. I detest making phone calls like that, but since I asked others to call about the quilt's 49th stop in Greenwich, I decided I'd better do what I find difficult. Daughter Rebekah and her friend Ronia called the Chicago number where your producer, Lisa Halliday, learned about the Prime Meridian visit too. We did our homework, our part, so to speak.
I phoned because I wanted you to know about the thousands of postcards that have been arriving one by one in your Chicago mail slot for quite awhile. I doubt that you've seen them.
I hoped that I would get your busy agent's voicemail. Instead, Mr. Kuvane answered from his Los Angeles' office sounding gruff and impatient. I proceeded to plunge into a one-sided conversation, but he didn't hang up. Paring my words to basics, I explained the project's goal of one million visions of peace, the butterfly peace quilt's visit to the Prime Meridian, and asked for one easy favor. Out of respect for all the people who had written and sent so many visions, I asked him to tell you personally so that you could be aware of them. The rest of the 250 Russian cards recently gathered in July will be mailed at the end of this month, for example, and you don't want to miss them.
He said he would let you know.
"We'll see," as my mother used to say.