For many many years it has been my practice to stop and pray for peace at high noon every day. I join thousands throughout the world who follow this gesture. You could be one of them. Here’s a story of how this happened for me.
Stopping at high noon for a moment of reflection is a spontaneous gesture of human consciousness. I remember when Tetsugen Glassman Roshi was being ordained the Abbot of Riverside Zendo in New York. It was a grand affair. Zen teachers from all over the country were gathered together to celebrate the event, with candles and incense and white chrysanthemums and black and gold brocade garments. In the middle of this solemn celebration, the beeper on somebody’s wristwatch suddenly went off. Everybody was surreptitiously looking around to find the poor guy to whom this had happened, because generally you are not even supposed to wear a wristwatch in the Zendo. To everybody’s surprise, the new Abbot himself interrupted the ceremony and said, “This was my wristwatch, and it was not a mistake. I have made a vow that regardless of what I am doing, I will interrupt it at noon and will think thoughts of peace.” And then he invited everyone there to think thoughts of peace for a world that needs it.
That incident reminded me that the Angelus bells were really instituted in the first place to announce a prayer for peace. They were the bells for Sext in the monastery, but they invited everyone in the village to pray for peace. Wherever people were, in the fields or at their labors, in their shops or at home, when they heard the Angelus bells they would stop work and pray. That was also true with the morning bells and with the evening bells, but the noon bells were especially an invitation to pray for peace and to commit oneself to treat others with love.
I have told the story of the Abbot’s installation many times, and I always find that people are eager to help revive this custom. Now, all over the world, people are praying at high noon for peace, as we have done in the monastery for hundreds of years. How beautiful it would be to hear bells and gongs from famous shrines ring out peace on radio and television at high noon.
David Steindl – Rast (from Music of Silence)
Here is one example of a prayer many use:
Show us your mercy, O God, and grant us your healing grace.
Clothe your people with integrity.
May our hearts sing with joy.
Give peace, O God, in all the world;
for only in you can we dwell in safety.
O God, keep this nation under your care,
and guide us in the way of justice and truth.
Let your way of compassion be known upon the earth;
Your saving health among all nations.
Let not those in need be forgotten,
nor the hope of the poor be taken away.
Create in us loving hearts, O God,
and sustain us with your Holy Spirit.