"What we look for is no longer the Pax Romana, the peace of imperial Rome, nor is it simply the Pax Humana, the peace among humans, but the Pax Gaia, the peace of Earth and every being on the Earth. This is the original and final peace, the peace granted by whatever power it is that brings our world into being. Within the universe, the planet Earth with all its wonder is the place for the meeting of the divine and the human.
"As humans we are born of the Earth, nourished by the Earth, healed by the Earth. The natural world tells us: I will feed you, I will clothe you, I will shelter you, I will heal you. Only do not so devour me or use me that you destroy my capacity to mediate the divine and the human. For I offer you a communion with the divine, I offer you gifts that you can exchange with each other, I offer you flowers whereby you may express your reverence for the divine and your love for each other.
"In the vastness of the sea, in the snow-covered mountains, in the rivers flowing through the valleys, in the serenity of the landscape, and in the foreboding of the great storms that sweep over the land, in all these experiences I offer you inspiration for your music, for your art, your dance.
"All these benefits the Earth gives to us individually, in our communities and throughout the entire Earth. Yet we cannot be fully nourished in the depths of our being if we try to isolate ourselves individually or if we seek to deprive others of their share by increasing our own; for the food that we eat nourishes us in both our souls and our bodies. To eat alone is to be starved in some part of our being.
"We need to reflect that our individual delight in the song of the birds or the sound of the crickets and cicadas in the evening is enhanced, not diminished, when we listen together in the evening with our families and our friends. We experience an easing of the tensions that develop between us, for the songs that we hear draw us into the intimacy of the same psychic space. So too music, our folk music as well as the symphonies of Mozart or Beethoven, draws an unlimited number of persons into the same soul space.
"Perhaps our greatest resource for peace is in an awareness that we enrich ourselves when we share our possessions with others. We discover peace when we learn to esteem those goods whereby we benefit ourselves in proportion as we give them to others. The very structure and functioning of the universe and of the planet Earth reveal an indescribable diversity bound in an all-embracing unity. The heavens themselves are curved over the Earth in an encompassing embrace.
"Here I would recall the experience of Henry David Thoreau, an American naturalist the mid-nineteenth century who lived a very simple life with few personal possessions. At one time he was attracted to the idea of purchasing an especially beautiful bit of land with a pasture and a wooded area. He even made a deposit. But then he realized that it was not necessary to purchase the land because, he reasoned, he already possessed the land in its wonder and its beauty as he passed by each day. This intimacy with the land could not be taken away from him no matter who owned the land in its physical reality. So indeed that same bit of land could be owned in its wonder and beauty by an unlimited number of persons, even though in its physical reality it might be owned by a single person.
"Such was the argument of Mencius, the Chinese Confucian writer who taught the emperor that he should open up the royal park for others, since it would be an even greater joy to have others present with him, just as at a musical concert we enjoy the music without diminishing, but increasing, our own joy as we share it with others. So too for those in the Bodhisattva tradition of India, where those such as Shanti Deva, in the fifth century of our era, took a vow to refuse beatitude itself until all living creatures were saved. For only when they participated in his joy could he be fully caught up in the delight of paradise.
"It has taken these many centuries for us to meet with each other in the comprehensive manner that is now possible. While for the many long centuries we had fragments of information concerning each other, we can now come together, speak with each other, dine with each other. Above all we can tell our stories to each other.
"Tonight we might recall the ancient law of hospitality, whereby the wanderer was welcomed. So it was with Ulysses on his long voyage home after the Trojan war. When exhausted and driven ashore on occasion, and surrounded by a people he had never met before, he was consistently rested, invited to dine with the people of the place, and then in the quiet moment afterward invited to tell his story. So it has been, I trust, with each of us in these past few days. To some extent we have been able to tell our stories to each other. Now a new phase in all our stories has begun as we begin to shape the Great Story of all peoples as we move into the future.
"As a final reflection, I would suggest that we see these early years of the twenty-first century as the period when we discover the great community of the Earth, a comprehensive community of all the living and nonliving components of the planet. We are just discovering that the human project is itself a component of the Earth project, that our intimacy with the Earth is our way to intimacy with each other. Such are the foundations of our journey into the future.
"Now night has advanced. The stars are more brilliant than ever. The time has come for us to enjoy our final moments with each other as we continue our journey on into the twenty-first century."