Story by Lourice Angie
Imagine Warwick, a new organization within the Town of Warwick, assembled on Wed., Dec. 21 with local officials, families and children, and faculty from the Warwick School District for the first in a series of events entitled, “Sacred Places” for a “Circle of Light.”
The ceremony was held at the Peace Wall Memorial, located at Sanfordville Elementary School. The series of celebrations honored the beauty and sacredness of the Warwick Valley and all its’ people.
The event took place on the “Winter Solstice” celebrated each year on Dec. 21. The day is also known in the Northern Hemisphere as the “December Solstice” and marks the day with the shortest period of sunlight and the longest night of the year. For thousands of years, this has been a time to gather and light candles or bonfires as a traditional way to call back the Sun. The tradition of decorating homes and trees with lights is passed down from these ancient ceremonies.
The cold weather was no match for the warm hearts and smiles of community members who attended the event. The large crowd walked through a beautifully illuminated pathway as they gathered inside of the “Circle of Light” at the Peace Wall Memorial. Candles adorned the circle all the way around and a bonfire burned strongly in the center.
Each person/family received a paper bag that contained a white candle, a pencil, a white piece of paper, and a small bouquet of greens with a significant meaning: cedar for protection and cleansing; holly for light and life in the midst of darkness and challenge; ivy for rebirth, growth, and the strength of the human spirit despite the challenges of life; and rosemary for fidelity and trust.
The event commenced with a trumpet rendition of the 1967 timeless classic song “What a Wonderful World,” performed by Veteran and longtime Warwick resident, Tony Cosimano. In addition, there were performances by Danielle Cheney who recited a poem and sang “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” and mother/daughter duo, Jody and Audrey Weatherstone sang the award winning song “Imagine” written by John Lennon.
The crowd then lit their candles and joined in song singing “This Little Light of Mine.” Warwick Mayor Michael Newhard recited the poem “Wage Peace” by poet, performer, teacher and author Judith Hill, during the ceremony.
Members of Imagine Warwick then asked the crowd to look into their paper bags and remove the small pencil and piece of paper inside. Everyone was asked to write down a special wish for the future of Warwick. One by one the papers were collected and then placed in the fire.
“What I think is really needed right now in our lives and that doesn’t just mean here in Warwick, but I feel we need to renew our connection with our inner selves and our spirit, and I think this is what we were attempting to do. These traditions are really important,” said Barbara Priestner, organizer of the event.
The awe inspiring sense of unity and peace felt throughout the event was unparalleled. A true inspiration and example of what the Town of Warwick truly stands for.
About the Peace Wall Memorial
The Peace Wall Memorial was created by third and fourth graders in 2003 as a heartfelt tribute to those who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001. The memorial was intended to serve as an outlet for children to express their hopes and visions for a better and a more peaceful world. Organizers decided that the memorial would be made out of stones because the element represented eternity, strength and the planet Earth.
The overall design was inspired by a symbol created in 1929 by a peacemaker named Nichols Roerich in New York. His symbol represented the past, present and future enclosed in the circle of eternity, science, art and religion, held together in the ring of culture. The wall is circular like the planet and the circle of life.
It has four openings, one for each compass point, a gesture welcoming all four corners of the earth. In the center are three shallow pools containing small stones, the stones represent the victims.
For more information on Imagine Warwick contact Barbara Priestner at: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 545- 6081.