We've done it! The pilgrimage has been completed.
On Sunday 22nd July, our main pilgrim Ruth Davies, along with fellow pilgrims, arrived at St Rhidian & St Illtyd's Church Llanrhidian in time for our service of thanksgiving and prayers for world peace which started at 4pm.
The weather was perfect and the sunshine brilliant. What a contrast to the day when we started the pilgrimage with driving rain and dreadful driving conditions ... especially for those who had to travel far to be with us.
The last day was amazing. I think everyone was overwhelmed with what happened in St Rhidian's & St Illtyd's, and there are so many stories to share of what has taken place over the five days, much of it unexpected and wonderful.
For our final service, Christian clergy and members of St Rhidian & St Illtyd's congregation welcomed the following faiths to share in peace with songs, hymns, mantras and readings from their Holy Books:
Earth Religions (Ancient Order of Irish Druids)
Tribal and Native
The most wonderful group of devotees from the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, along with His Grace Tarakanatha Das and Misrani Devi Dasi, arrived to share 'Kirtan' with our pilgrims and others as they arrived at the church. This was a beautiful welcome and joyful blessing for everyone. The whole area resounded with their bells, drums and chanting of the Maha Mantra. ISKCON also shared Kirtan within the church as they entered along with clergy, faith representatives and pilgrims. They had never been invited to do this before.
At one point, the electricity in the village was suddenly cut and apart from the altar candles, we were all plunged into darkness. Our immediate thoughts were that we would be without the organ or the recorded music we had chosen for the service. Then, miraculously, the lights came back on at the very moment we needed our music!
Lama Rabsang and sangha members of Palpung Buddhist Centre in Brynmawr shared Tibetan Buddhist mantras of peace and blessing. Sheikh Hassan, Imam from Swansea University Mosque, stood in the sanctuary and recited passages of peace from the Holy Qur'an. Tarrick El Hosaini stood at his side and gave the English translation. Norma Glass MBE from the Orthodox Jewish Community of Swansea shared Psalm 23 in Hebrew and the congregation followed by singing the much loved English version of the psalm, 'The Lord's My Shepherd'.
His Grace, Tarakanatha Das read the Hindu Vedic prayer of peace and Ruth S Davies read the peace prayer from the Tribal and Native Tradition. Thomas Corum Caldas, Ogham Master and Historian of the Ancient Order of Irish Druids, read out the pilgrimage prayer in Irish Gaelic to accompany the light of Saint Brighid. Ruth, our main pilgrim, read the prayer in Cymraeg to accompany the blessed light from Saint David's Shrine and I read it in English to accompany the World Peace Flame. All three blessed flames were placed on the High Altar.
Much incense was lit by Fr Andrew Pearce of St Teilo's Church Bishopston and many candles were lit, including our pilgrimage peace votive. Peace votives were also lit by everyone present and all were placed on the altar as 'Healing Light: a Celtic prayer' from Karl Jenkins', 'The Peace Makers' was played.
A special message from Karl, who was travelling in Italy at the time, was read out by Fr Tim Ardouin.
"In all my works as a composer, when setting iconic Christian text (Requiem, Stabat Mater, etc) I have always endeavoured to incorporate words from other cultures, alongside the purely Christian, reflecting how they perceive and search for the 'Ultimate Reality'. It has recently been my privilege to compose The Peacemakers, which utilises words from the iconic 'peacemakers' of history; Jesus Christ, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, the Dalai Lama, Mother Teresa, Mandela and from the Qu'ran amongst others. May I quote two extracts from the work which reflects my views on peace and religion today Firstly from Rumi (the 13th- century Persian mystic poet): 'All religions, all singing one song: Peace be with you', and this from Terry Waite, who wrote this especially for the work:
Peace is the fragile meeting Of two souls in harmony.
Peace is an embrace That protects and heals.
Peace is a reconciling Of opposites.
Peace is rooted in love, It lies in the heart
Waiting to be nourished, Blossom
And flourish Until it embraces the world.
May we know the harmony of peace.
May we sing the harmony of peace. Until in the last of days
We rest in peace.
God Bless You,