There are colourful additions to the grounds of two churches in the Comox Valley.
Standing on a grassy verge beside Comox United Church is a Peace Pole. Another Peace Pole stands beside a stone labyrinth at Comox Valley Presbyterian Church.
Printed on each of these two wooden poles is the inscription May Peace Prevail on Earth, written in a different language on each of the four sides. The pole at Comox United Church proclaims peace in English, Spanish, Italian, and Polish. The pole at Comox Valley Presbyterian Church includes the inscription in English, French, German, and Swahili.
The wood for the Peace Poles was generously donated by members of the Comox Valley Presbyterian Church and the poles were decorated by the children who attended a summer day camp held at Comox United Church during the last week of July.
On Oct. 21, Peace Sabbath, the Peace Pole at Comox United Church will be dedicated during the worship service. The Peace Pole at the Presbyterian church was dedicated on a hot Sunday in August.
These two Peace Poles are now part of a project begun over 50 years ago in Japan. Overwhelmed by the devastation left behind in Japan by the Second World War, a spiritual leader named Masahisa Goi began preaching about the importance of reaching for inner and outer peace.
He dedicated his life to spreading the message, “May peace prevail on earth,” and his followers erected the first peace poles as a way of reminding people to focus on peaceful ways of living.
Since 1955 more than 250,000 Peace Poles have been planted around the globe in over 200 countries — in town squares, beside schools, in places of worship, in parks and gardens. They have been planted at the North and South Poles, beside the pyramids in El Giza, at the Baltit Fort in Pakistan, in Gorky Park in Russia, at Angkor Wat in Cambodia, and on a street corner in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The Peace Pole project is the official project of UN-affiliated World Peace Prayer Society (www.worldpeace.org). Each handcrafted monument “symbolizes the oneness of humanity and our common wish for a world at peace.” They offer a silent prayer and remind us that the best way to resolve conflicts is with justice, not violence.