The threat of war and nuclear arms is a terrifyingly real one; even more so now than in the past. Something needs to be done and frequently, grass-roots operations make a huge difference. That’s what’s happening now.
Children As The Peacemakers is an organization dedicated to making peace happen through the creative participation of children from around the globe.
Pat Montandon, an author, humanitarian, activist and philanthropist who has devoted her life to making our world a place of peace, hope and love, founded Children As The Peacemakers in the early 1980’s. She is also a great supporter of Great Conjunction. Over the years she has become a mentor and dear friend of mine and played an integral role in John’s and my wedding.
Beginning in 1982, Pat Montandon took children from around the world on 37 different global trips to meet with world leaders. President Reagan, Russia’s Mikhail Gorbachev, Indira Gandhi of India, German Chancellor Kohl, Mother Theresa, Pope John Paul II and China’s Premiere Zhao Ziyang are just some of the world leaders who met with Pat and the children.
For all her works, Pat is a UN Peace Messenger Award recipient and is a three-time nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize as well as being recognized by other countries.
Now Pat is coming out of retirement and planning a new trip to sue for peace. This time, she’s intends to take a small delegation to meet with North Korea’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un.
I am honored and excited to say that Pat invited me to help her organize and promote this trip. When she called, you can bet I didn’t hesitate to say, “Yes”! So I’ll be leaving February 25th to work with Pat at her home in Beverly Hills and will be returning March 8th.
This one-of-a-kind experience for me is to not only work with but to learn from one of my greatest heroes. I’ll be able to bring the experiences and knowledge gained home and apply it to Great Conjunction so that we an make our corner of the world here in NE Ohio just that much better.
For children ages 6 to sixteen to be an important part of this project, we ask that they create drawings or write letters about the fear of nuclear war and ask for Peace. Write them to North Korean Great Leader Kim Jong-Un and US President Donald J. Trump. Mail them to:
Peace To The Planet
1243 Lago Vista Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 902210
After the letters are received, each child will be sent a Peace To The Planet membership card.
Additionally, I encourage you to learn more about Pat Montandon and her works; she is brave and absolutely fascinating woman who has lived a life like no other. We will begin selling copies of Pat’s books at our March 24 & 25 fair at the Holiday Inn Boardman:
I will keep everyone posted with what’s happening during my trip to Beverly Hills and the future developments in the progress of the trip to North Korea.
Till then, be well and happy. I’ll see you soon!
In our society Valentine’s is meant to be a time of celebration of romantic love. But not everyone has “someone special” in their lives, so sometimes they feel a bit left out. They have no one to buy them candy or to take out to a romantic dinner. And this holiday, which is intended for loving couples, can leave some feeling isolated, alone and maybe even a little sad.
But I say that’s bunk! There is no reason to feel bad; none at all. And I’ll tell you why. Let’s take a quick look, a general overview, if you will, at Valentine’s Day.
Originally Valentine’s Day was a Western Christian holiday celebrating the martyrdom of a saint (or saints – we’re not really sure) named Valentinus. Lots of stories circle around this saint (or saints), but the point is, this was a holiday intended to feast and remember a dead person (or persons).
It wasn’t until Chaucer (yes, the same Chaucer who wrote the Canterbury Tales) that the holiday became associated with romantic love. 300-years later, people began giving gifts to show their love. Candy, flowers and keys (presumably to the heart) were the norm.
Then a dastardly empire took over the holiday: Hallmark! Yep! We were told that we weren’t good people unless we bought expensive cards and gave even more expensive dust-gathering gifts to prove, yes I said prove, that we love someone. And we must brag about it, too!
February 14th has become the one day each year that we must profess our love to… fill in the blank… for all the world to see.
Now, let’s get real. Rationally we all know that we don’t have to prove anything. We also don’t have to spend money to profess our love and we don’t have to have a significant other in order to love or be loved. It’s as simple as that! And we don’t have to be guilted by our commercial overlord into “sending the very best”.
Remember when we were kids in school, we had to give little Valentine cards to all our classmates? Nope, no romance there.
But just because someone isn’t in a romantic relationship, doesn’t mean that our commonly understood Valentine’s Day cannot be celebrated and enjoyed. We all have friends that we love. Most of us have pets that we love. And no one needs to spend lots of money.
It shouldn’t be about what we do, but what we feel.
If this holiday is supposed to be all about love, then just feel that love. The love we have for our family members and our closest friends. The love we feel for our fur or feather-babies. More importantly, the love that we have for ourselves. Don’t spend money to show your love, do it with a smile and a hug, with some kindness. Or better yet, show it with your time.
Why do we have to celebrate love only on February 14th? I love people and animals and myself every single day. Even all year long!
So if you feel the need to celebrate in some way, go out with friends and get a pizza. Stay at home and order Chinese. Snuggle-in with a good book or your favorite movie. Go hang out with your parents or siblings. Have a nice conversation with your significant other. Spend some extra time playing with your pet.
But don’t put too much stock into Valentine’s Day itself. After all, it can’t be that big of a holiday if no one gets the day off work for it!
Okay, that being said, I just want to say: Happy Valentine’s Day to you! I love you.
Joe and I would like to thank all of you for making this an amazing year of growth for Great Conjunction. We are here to help spread practical spirituality, understanding and tolerance and you turned out and made it possible! We also want to thank everyone who joined in as volunteers, speakers, readers and vendors. Many hands make the job easier and you made this year a joy.
All of us at Great Conjunction would like to thank everyone who donated this year. We are still a small organization and every donation is greeted with much excitement and dancing about. It is probably just as goofy looking as you imagine… and I don’t care!
Would you like to make us cheer and dance about? Your donation can do that!
John Thornton, Great Conjunction Co-Founder
It’s that time of year to ask, “What’s the appropriate thing to say?” Merry Christmas! But not everyone is Christian nor to all Christians celebrate Christmas. Happy Hanukkah! Not everyone is Jewish. Happy Kwanza! Not everyone celebrates that, either. Happy Holidays! Someone else is going to be offended by that one, too. It’s becoming a no-win situation.
Well, I for one, do not believe in a no-win situation. I also don’t believe in being too overly critical if someone’s personal beliefs are not perfectly met. I believe in an open heart.
In our country, at least, most people do celebrate Christmas. In my humble opinion it’s okay to wish someone a Merry Christmas, because the wish means more than just a blessing for the Christian holiday. It means “Good Cheer” and “Be Happy” and “Be Blessed” and “Peace to you” and “Love Everyone”. It’s a wish for joy and prosperity to everyone. Everyone, no matter who they are, who they worship, whether or not they worship or what they believe. Good will to all men and women. Period.
By the same token, the same holds true for Happy Hanukkah, Happy Holidays, Happy Kwanza and every other seasonal greeting; they are offerings of love and peace. So bring on those seasonal greetings. It doesn’t matter to me which one! I feel the love behind it in my heart. And I want you to feel the love when I wish you Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays!
It’s that time of year to empty your bank accounts to show people how much we love them. Woo hoo! Look at all those gifts! Look at all those year-end bills! Is that love? Really?
Now, don’t get me wrong, I do love presents! I love to give them and I sure do love to get them. But I don’t think we need to prove our love by the volume of gifts or by how expensive they were.
A precious and cherished gift is usually something special, something simple or something handmade. No matter, it is always something from the heart.
We already received an amazing gift this year and it will be cherished always. It was a hand-painted card from a dear friend. It will be framed so that we may enjoy it for years to come.
So don’t go out and make retailers rich. Don’t try to out-buy Aunt Harriet. You don’t even have to give someone a trinket of any kind. Just give a smile, a heart-felt hug and your love. It’s precious.
“It’s that time of year when the world falls in love…” begins my favorite Christmas song. And it does seem to be fairly true. The hearts of many soften a little bit. And some people’s hearts soften a lot; just look at the Grinch!
But do our hearts soften enough? Do they soften for all? Religion and the Golden Rule teach us that we should love one another. We learn that we should not judge others. But we do judge and we don’t love everyone.
Far too often, especially these days, we hear that we shouldn’t love that group over there because they don’t look like us. Or because they don’t believe the same things we do. Or that we should shun someone for what they wear. We judge people unfairly and based upon little or no information. We generalize and judge.
That is not what religion teaches us. That is not what a good and true society does. That is not what a person with an open heart will do.
So each of us, let’s try to spread more love within our families, amongst our friends, within our communities and even around the world. And let’s not just do it this time each year. Let’s try to do it every day.
As another of my favorite songs – though it’s not a Christmas song - says, “Come on people now, smile on your brother. Everybody get together. Try to love one another right now.”
Thank you for letting me share a few thoughts that have been on my mind this season.
And it’s that time of year to wish you all a wonderful holiday season and a wonderful life! May you be blessed and may you love deeply and greatly.
Joe Thornton, Great Conjunction Co-Founder
But why should we only be thankful for the many blessings in our lives just on the holiday? Why aren’t we thankful, or grateful, all the time?
We all live busy, complex lives. We all get so tired sometimes. We all begin to take some things for granted. Things like the love we feel from those we hold dear; the glorious sky; the purr of a kitten and playfulness of a puppy; the conversations we have with friends and family each day; our health; the fact that we are alive. It’s easy to take some things for granted and we do it all the time.
Far too often we don’t fully appreciate what we have until we no longer have it. Our health is an obvious one. But what about the other joys in our lives? For example, what about our parents and others that we love. Do we speak to them or see them as often as we could or should? Do we let them know how much they mean to us?
What about the bank teller or the grocery clerk who make us smile? Do we stop to think about and appreciate them? How about the breeze that rustles our hair? Do we take the moment to enjoy that?
Gratitude is something we here at Great Conjunction Spiritual Center try to live every day. Of course it’s not easy, we’re human, we’re busy, we fail at times. But we do try. And we each of us can try just a little bit harder to be grateful for all the wonders, large and tiny, in our lives.
There’s not room enough, nor time enough, for me to share all the things for which I am truly grateful, plus I don’t want to bore you. But here are just a few:
I am grateful that I have a window in office bringing in the light to my beautiful plants. I am grateful for my dog, Helo, curled up at my feet as I write this. I am grateful for my amazing business partner, friend, supporter and husband. I am grateful that when I get up in the mornings, there’s a hot cup of tea waiting for me along with a smile and a hug. I am grateful for the opportunity to do the work that I do. I am grateful for each and every one of you; without whom I could not do these things.
Thank you very, very much.
So let’s try experience that thankfulness not just in November or on Thanksgiving Day, but every month and every day.
Gratitude. Let’s be grateful together. Every day.
Joe Thornton, Great Conjunction Co-Founder