When We Enter Silence: Shanti, Shalom, Salaam, Peace

When We Enter Silence: Shanti, Shalom, Salaam, Peace

By Kevin O’Brien

When you walk into the chapel at Christ’s Peace House of Prayer in Easton, Kansas, you remove your shoes as you step on holy ground. In its glory, religious symbols from all major religions are represented. The altar rests on dirt and is made of wood from the horse barn that once stood where the chapel does.
Three times a day, communal prayers are said. Guests are welcome to come if they choose. The sound of the waterfalls outside the sliding glass door is heard all year long. Nothing but glass is in front of you as you look beyond the altar, allowing the forest to become part of the chapel.
Built in 1972, after Vatican II, the wisdom of the major religions was extracted.
Incense is lit before the altar, which contains a book of prayers that guests are invited to write in so that we remember their intentions after they leave.
Tibetan tingsha’s are struck three times to begin. Then, introductory prayers begin: “Holy, Holy, God of Hosts. Heaven and earth are filled with your glory. Hosanna in the Highest!”
Next, we enter silence for 10 minutes - signaled before and after with a Japanese rin gong.
After silence, the prayer leader reads from a sacred text. That could be the Bible, Tao Te Ching, Koran, etc. It can also be from a religious leader of the faith, like Thich Nhat Hanh.
This is followed with intercession prayers for peace, health, intentions, the earth, the poor.
Finally, everyone recites a closing prayer which is followed by the tingsha’s being struck three times.
Returning home to Canton, Ohio, I greatly missed this daily ritual, having done it for two years. And so I adapted it.
On my altar at home, I have a beautiful rin gong and striker, an incense holder, holy water from Easter, a servant’s towel from a Holy Thursday service, a book of intentions and an icon given to me from the founder of Christ’s Peace (a.k.a. Shantivanam).
Following the same basic structure as when in chapel, I begin my day with the ringing of the rin gong, opening prayers, silence, spiritual reading, intercessions for peace, healing, the poor, family, forgiveness and thanksgiving.
I conclude with the same prayer as when in chapel. Striking the rin gong a second time as I bow profoundly and end with: “Namaste.” Then, I’m set for the day.

Kevin O'Brien is a Life Cycle Celebrant who specializes in funerals in Northeastern Ohio. With an interest in writing and making a living with meaning, he has found the perfect vocation.

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