SAND SPRINGS — Nestled in the oak and hickory trees west of Sand Springs, the Osage Forest of Peace has, for 40 years, been a place to reflect and restore, physically and spiritually.
We found that in order to create a more peaceful world we really need to start with cultivating peace within ourselves.
Founded in 1979 by an order of Benedictine nuns as a place of prayer and meditation, in 2009, the forest's 45 acres were saved from development by the Bob Doenges family, who created a non-profit foundation to run it.
And on New Year's Eve, for seven years now, spilling out from the chapel, there's been a remarkably simple, and wonderfully popular, service.
The service consists of reading the names of every nation in the world, and then we pause at intervals and offer a prayer from a different faith tradition for peace in those nations.
From Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, prayers that we might stop fighting one another, and learn to live with each other instead.
Then we conclude the service with an affirmation of those gathered that we will live peacefully in the year to come.
Afterward, there's a simple reception, the Forest has a wonderful chef or you can bring something to contribute.
New Year's Eve can be a raucous and kind of unsafe environment in some locations and a lot of people who come to be with us are looking for a quiet, sober place where they can begin the new year with intentions for new things.
And if any are left at this point, you can book an overnight stay in one of the simple TV-free cabins that dot the property, and rather than watching the big crystal ball drop in Times Square, marvel, instead, at those that sparkle in the Osage County night sky.
The winter nights here are so quiet and the stars seem like they're close enough to touch.
You can find out more online at forestofpeace.org.
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