By Qalvy Grainzvolt
With the backdrop of a world pandemic, the International Day of Peace and Day of Disarmament observances held at the U.N. chapel on September 21 took the form of pixels and digital presence this year. Due to the need for social distancing, my annual representation of Shinnyo-en at this event, which is normally held at the United Nation’s chapel in-person, was instead held over Zoom – a web-conferencing platform that has become deeply woven into the fabric of our ways of communicating with one another.
Particularly, I was worried that this year’s observance would feel distant. What I found interesting despite the physical distance is that because we were all zoomed in (pun intended), we could really see one another’s faces so closely and relate as though we were actually in a closer proximity than we would normally be, even if in person. Being up close and personal in this way trimmed down the now customary six feet of distance factored into our equation of human interaction. Somehow this added another dimension to the annual questions that we explore as a collective: What does peace look like and how do we keep it growing? I think that this year all in attendance, including the ever-inspiring hosts, Rev. Dionne Broissiere, Chaplain of the U.N. Chapel, and Denise Scotto, Esq. (Chair of the International Day of Yoga Committee at the U.N.), made special efforts to engage all our senses even more. In other words, to make this gathering one of visual closeness, with live music through harp and vocal song for the ears, with spoken words of unique wisdom for the heart and mind, as well as moments to ground ourselves in mindful presence through meditation where touch and sensitivity were further cultivated. I think it is a sort of triumph of human connection and spirit that even a Zoom-led observance could almost feel closer than when in person. Seeing the expression on the faces of the many who attended, spoke, and shared presence was very powerful. It was disarming in the best ways possible, in fact. It allowed me to create space for other views of peace and to see it up close through the face and gestures of those that are walking paths of peace. It reminds that peace looks like every one of us who chooses to engage in it and it looks as differently as each one of us, too. That is surely a beautiful thing to zoom in on with the inner camera lens of heart, mind and consciousness as we all continue to develop our own pictures of peace both as individuals and as a collective, even amidst the backdrop of a global pandemic.
The International Day of Peace at Church Center at the United Nations can be viewed in its entirety at this website.