offered by Roberta Wall September 16, 2001 Another day in precious holy Brooklyn, with vigils, peace walks and interfaith services everywhere.
Seven hundred people came together in the Brooklyn Museum to honor fallen firefighters from two local stations. The first four rows of the packed auditorium were filled with mourning families. Black folks and white folks crowded together to pray for peace, to sing civil rights songs, to grieve, to find wisdom. The aisles were lined with firefighters in full gear, their trucks outside, waiting to be called to the next fire as they stood in silent prayer and meditation with us.
I felt the power of interfaith service in a way far deeper than ever before. I heard as one voice, one people, one prayer, the Imam's prayers from the Koran and the cantor's prayer from the Jewish prayer book. As the Catholic priest prayed that we not turn to vengeance and the minister prayed that guidance come to us from the deepest places of wisdom, I felt that there is indeed only one God.
I was asked to offer the closing meditation, a Buddhist metta, a loving-kindness prayer. I asked everyone to close their eyes, and led us in the praying, "May I be happy, may I be safe. Breathing in and out, each breath bringing in a deeper wish to dwell in peace, safety, free from anxiety, worry and fear." Then I asked everyone to open their eyes and find someone nearby in the room to send the same blessings of peace, safety, and freedom. "May you be happy, peaceful, and safe. May you be free from anxiety, worry and fear."
My whole body began to shake as I watched people turn to each other with loving, tear-filled, tender eyes. Then we extended the metta out to everyone, to all beings, and for those who were ready, even to those whom we may have considered to be enemies. The depth of the energy of holding peace and love in the room was breathtaking. We finished to the sound of the bell being invited twenty-one times in honor of the firefighters lost from the two stations. After the service ended, firefighters, wives of missing ones, clerics, and my two wonderful daughters told me how wonderful and helpful the meditation was. May we all live in peace. May this truly be a time of turning to dialogue, to a new way of resolving conflict, of being with suffering, of exploring nonviolent ways to live on Earth.
A Loving-Kindness Meditation
May I be peaceful, happy, and light in body and spirit. May I be safe and free from injury. May I be free from angel; afflictions, fear, and anxiety.
May I learn to look at myself with the eyes of understanding and love. May I be able to recognize and touch the seeds of joy and happiness in myself. May I learn to identify and see the sources of anger, craving, and delusion in myself.
May I know how to nourish the seeds of joy in myself every day. May I be able to live fresh, solid, and free. May I be free from attachment and aversion, but not be indifferent.
Roberta Wall, True Insight of Peace, is living and practicing in Woodstock, New York, where she is starting a Sangha.