Peace Fire

Legitimate anger?

July 19, 2003

All week I have pondered the question of where anger fits into the peace process, if at all.

Last Saturday, the day before I set off to attend the Styx protest march, I received the following email concerning my blog of July 10:

When I read the bit where you launched into judgement of “men in grey suits with double chins”, I felt you contract. Are you sure you want to give up your peace in this way? Our brothers, whatever they are up to, need our LOVE, always. That is what heals.

Peace Fire-July 2003

It is hard to know sometimes whether my responses are written out of defense or wisdom, but today, while tending to the Peace Fire, it occurred to me that the name “Peace Fire” was made up of two, possibly opposing words: peace and fire.

Somewhere in all this, fire or anger has a roll to play in fueling protest in order to create a sustainable world of peaceful coexistence between all living beings. Healthy anger (not violence) surfaces when one’s deep love for someone or something is called upon to defend them.

Yes, everyone needs our love, but I don’t want to just float along on light. For me, all of “life” depends upon contraction and expansion to survive (think of the heart). “Contracting”, therefore, as long as it is only half my existence is welcome.

It might be said that a rainbow is the result of light (love) shining on the storm (anger). True, but not the whole truth. What I say, is that both love and anger are equal partners in the making of the rainbow; one without the other and it is a non event.

Appropriate anger, when used in conjunction with love, can create miracles.


During winter it is not always easy to find a comfortable place to sit for my morning meditations at the Peace Fire when the ground is near frosty cold or my favourite tree stump perch is butt damp.

Might as well climb on top of the cover that slows down the rate of fire wood consumption.

peace fire heater

If the fire beneath is not too hot, lying back on this piece of heated metal is rather pleasurable and affords an easy way to gaze at the sky’s navel if not one’s own.

Today, while enjoying the fire’s radiating warmth, I mulled over an article in yesterday’s newspaper that questioned the Wilderness Society’s use of actors and other artists to promote the message of stopping the clearfelling of our old growth forests:

“If I want scientific, empirical evidence on the state of forests in Tasmania, I wouldnt go to any of this lot for information!”

To counter this, my unscientific opinion is that the world might be a safer place today if artists, women, people of color, shamen, children and animals had more say, not less, in the great debates of this world.

What would have happened if the development of the nuclear bomb had been tempered with discussion by the Kogi indians of Columbia; a tribe of people who would have asked how might this bomb affect the seventh generation of children into the future? Radiation and its long term consequences might have been given more serious consideration.

I love science and the insights it has brought me into understanding the particulars of this world. I also know that if we are to make this world a safe place for all beings to live and prosper, bird chatter has a hidden message that is just as important to understand.

The question is whether or not science, without the honoured participation of a reverential heart, can decipher the bird’s message.


Tree people

June 6, 2003

To casual viewers looking at the photo below, they could be forgiven for saying: “Whats the big deal? Just a few shrubs of different sizes.”

south esk pine

May I say:

“The fog of ones ignorance disappears as one takes the time to become familiar with each shrubs story. With understanding, even a modicum of understanding, the potential of compassion, care and love becomes more real.”

These “shrubs” are actually an endangered pine and have been planted to help in the longevity of their species.

They also stand as sentinels around an eternal flame dedicated to world peace. Nine represent the guardians of the future and four of the them represent the past.

The Peace Fire at Windgrove, initially called the Childrens Grove, is ringed with a single species of pine native to Tasmania: “South Esk River Pine (Callitris Oblonga), a tall shrub or small tree 3 to 4 meters tall (13 feet) with bluish foliage. Dense compact form. Hardy.”

Or so said the plastic tag identifying this tree from all the others at the nursery.

But only “hardy” if given a habitat to grow in.

When I planted the first seven trees seven years ago to commemorate the births of six girls and one boy, I had actually never seen a mature specimen of South Esk pine in the wild or elsewhere. I only knew from a visiting botanist that this particular pine was one of the most endangered pines in the world because its very small native habitat in north east Tasmania was being lost to clear felling, farming and other “land improvements”.

To survive, it needed to be propagated elsewhere. Hence, my choice of the South Esk pine for the Childrens Grove.

Yesterday, I planted out four more along the circumference of the existing circle. Paid for with a donation of money and a request from a woman visiting from Amsterdam who desired to have a grandmother tree planted next to her granddaughter Isabella (one of the babies of seven years ago). The amount of money given was enough to purchase four trees, so I planted two on either side of the designated granddaughter tree thereby allowing all four of her grandparents to be with her. They might be smaller than she is at present, but I would think this particular granddaughter tree is feeling rather lucky.

Shall we go back to the original sentence: “So, whats the big deal?”


One by one

May 16, 2003

It started out as just a quick patch job. One, maybe two wheelbarrow loads of soil quickly raked into the hollows, throw a little grass seed down and done.


Ha! How about the equivalent of one wheelbarrow pushed a total of three and a half miles uphill full, and back again three and a half miles empty.

It took me 25 trips to get the dirt from the far side of the house to the Peace Fire.

Early on, I realized that the job was a lot bigger than originally thought.

Early on, I realized that I could save a lot of time and energy by using my truck.

But…. being the apprentice monk and being more interested in process than speed, I decided to take a zen approach to the work and slowly pace out each shovel full and each step with a prayer for peace. Sort of like, “walk and work my talk’.

By trip number 11, I was into it full swing and cheerfully talking my mantras.

By trip number 18, I was dripping with sweat, shirtless and singing out loud.

By trip number 25, and six hours later, I could hardly move. My knees, weak at the best of times, just about caved in. My arms could just about hold the rake. My body just wanted to lay down.

But it got finished. And, it looks good.

In a couple of weeks, when the new grass sprouts, there will be a lovely, shallow green dome coming off the stones surrounding the edge of the fire pit. Very sculptural, very Zen.

Now, if I can just find someone willing to push me in a wheelchair to the local pub so that I could sit contently with a strong stout and reflect on the meaning of life.


Power of ashes

April 20, 2003

Peace Fire-woodPeace Fire-ashesFor the past two weeks the wood ashes that were taken from the fire pit of the Peace Fire on its first year anniversary have been cooling.

Today, Easter Sunday, I have begun sifting these (still warm) ashes to create sacred “white ash” that can be used in ceremonies or any other way people wish.

Twelve or more bottles filled with these ashes will be sent around the world to help spread the notion of Peace.

One might be skeptical of the power of these ashes. But consider this: over ten tons of firewood went into the making of this small pile of ash. If nothing else, the mineral content will be quite high.

Beyond this, and more importantly, I and others meditated and said prayers around the Peace Fire twice a day for a whole year. These ashes carry the goodness of these prayers and wishes.

As well, when the Peace Fire pit was dug, we came upon an ancient charcoal midden and some stone tools demonstrating that this site was used for many hundreds of years by the original occupants of this land. This ancestral energy would have to be present in these ashes.

Consider this: the amount of wood consumed by the Peace Fire (15 tons per year) over six hundred years (9000 tons) equals what Forestry Tasmania and Gunns Ltd. cut down in Tasmania during the first “four” hours of each day. Therefore, if the thousands of people who will visit the Peace Fire in the next six hundred years can stop Forestry Tasmania from cutting down our old growth forests for just one week, the amount of fire wood consumed by the Peace Fire becomes insignificant.

On this Easter Sunday, may a just and lasting peace visit all the lands and people of the world. May there be born within humanity a new awareness of the sacredness of “all” life. May every religion of the world preach this.

Dear …..,

Here’s a little bottle of compressed goodwill. May the potent energy of the ashes contained within it help spread peace throughout the world. May it be offered as a small tribute to the concept of the Long Now.

For a year, other than for two weeks in July, I have been sitting by the Peace Fire twice each day, greeting the morning with prayer and saying “good night” later in the evening with more prayers. On April 6, its one year anniversary, over 50 people gathered around the fire at different times during the day to offer their prayers and to hang banners on bamboo poles that had written prayers of peace on them.

On the following day I cleaned out the fire pit (one half at a time to keep the fire burning) and placed the ashes off to one side to allow them to cool. Two weeks later these ashes were still warm. The pile itself lost about half its size and what was left I sifted into one bucket. Over ten ton of firewood down to one bucket of condensed prayer.

May these sacred ashes from the Windgrove Peace Fire bring a small joy to your part of the world. They represent the hopes and aspirations of many Tasmanians and may this bottle be a visible reminder to you that, despite Bush and Co., there are many thousands of individuals throughout the world working to change the mindset of war to one of peace.

I’m sure you’ll find a good use for these ashes.

With love, Peter