The planting of a little white pine tree on the grounds of Salem Heights, the Sisters of the Precious Blood central house in Dayton, Sept. 17 dealt a large symbolic blow to violence in the community and around the world.
As part of the planting, Sisters joined peace advocates and Trotwood city officials to bury the remnants of a destroyed handgun. In a ceremony full of symbolism, Guy Jones of Five Rivers Chautauqua and a member of the Lakota Nation of Native Americans burned incense as musician John DeBoer played a Native American flute. Precious Blood Sister Judy Niday led the group of about 40 in prayer before Trotwood Police Chief Erik Wilson and restored citizen Derrick Patrick buried the cut-up pieces of the shiny, silver weapon.
In collaboration with PEACE DAYton and Five Rivers Chautauqua, the ceremony was one of 40 events being held Sept. 12-29 as an outgrowth of the United Nations International Day for Peace, celebrated annually on Sept. 21.
The day started in the Salem Heights chapel as Sister Joyce Lehman welcomed the visitors by explaining that the Sisters chose the name for their home because they wanted it to be place of peace. The Congregation’s mission is to proclaim God’s love by being a reconciling, life-giving presence in today’s fractured world.
“That’s what the Sisters do here,” Sister Joyce said. “They pray for the needs of the world in order that justice might be established so that peace can reign in this world.”
In her remarks, Trotwood Mayor Mary McDonald reflected on the need for peace not only in our communities, but across the world.
“I think about the peace that’s needed for the people in this land. I think about the decisions that I make to enhance the peace and the life of love and the abundance that I’d like to have happen for my family,” she said. “Today being a part of this event is a huge honor. Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with each and every one of us. That’s our call.”
The white pine was chosen to represent peace, Jones explained, because the tree’s top four branches are equidistant to each other, yet they all tie to the trunk. We see the same in creation with the four stages of life, four Gospels and four seasons – all of which stem from our Creator.
Likewise, humans need to extend a hand and connect with each other.
“We’re going to put away the violence, Jones said. “Let’s all take a vow to live a good life, a peaceful life.”
The event ended with a breaking of bread in the Salem Heights dining room with a blessing led by Sister Marita Beumer. In a final gesture of peace, people at each table broke off a section of bread and shared it with another person.
Story and photo by Dave Eck