This year I was invited
to lead the world famous Greenwich Village Halloween Parade
with blessings. As the Grand Marshall, it was my duty
and privilege to walk ahead of the parade and bless the
streets, transforming them from their secular purpose
into spiritual pathways. In addition, I was called upon
to bless the participants of the parade as well as the
inhabitants of the city.
This was an amazing opportunity
to spread positive energy on an extremely large scale.
About 30,000 people walked in the parade and two million
more lined the parade path. The NYC Halloween Parade is
one of the 10 biggest tourist events in the world! And
of course, about eight million folks actually live here.
Joining me in this honorable
endeavor was my magnificent Blessing Band of 30 wonderful
individuals who are deeply earnest in their desire to
extend blessings of peace and positive community spirit
to New York City and beyond every chance we get.
We walked ahead of the
parade for the entire route, blessing as we went. We were
dressed entirely in white and silver to emphasize the
purity of our intentions. Since this was not a performance,
but a real ritual, we were not wearing masks or elaborate
face paint, as we wanted our eyes and facial expressions
to convey the sincerity of our serious, yet joyous, mission.
Our blessings were offered
with smudge, or burning sacred herbs, which I call, “holy
smoke.” In addition, we used bells, bubbles, glitter,
and energetic chanting to spread our blessings. We shared
blessings of peace, blessings of good will, blessings
of community relationships, blessings of safety, blessings
of protection, blessings of peace, and blessings of love.
The experience was amazing.
As we passed by chanting “Blessings!” folks
along the sidelines reached out their hands and bowed
their heads so we could bless them! Monsters and devils,
nurses and cartoon characters, ghosts and super heroes,
alike, thanked us for the blessings and offered theirs
back to us in the hundreds of languages and dialects spoken
in New York. I blessed all the police in the street for
their patience and good humor and was duly rewarded by
hundreds of grins.
Such an enormous crowd.
And so incredibly diverse. Yet there was only laughter
and smiles and blessings and joy. Not one drunk or belligerent
person. Not one incident. Not one disturbance of the peace.
The only wild behavior was evidenced as creativity and
ecstatic good humor. But that is typical here in the Big
Whenever I am away somewhere
lecturing or leading workshops, someone will inevitably
ask me why I choose to live in New York City where “there
is no nature.” I always respond by saying that in
New York, the wildlife is the people. And I mean that
in every sort of respectful, positive way. Think of the
mouth-watering variety of food, music, costume, and custom
here. I just adore riding the subway, watching the folks
read their newspapers and realizing that every paper along
the line is in a different language!
People from nearly 200
counties, having a full palette of beliefs and backgrounds,
manage to live and work together in New York City in admirable
peace. As huge and diverse and broken down as it is here,
everybody pretty much gets along. And I am pleased as
punch and very proud to be part of it.
I have given programs
on multicultural ritual celebrations in schools where
there are 65 nationalities represented in the student
body. In a typical classroom, an Egyptian boy sits next
to a Korean girl who sits next to a Guatemalan boy who
sits next to a pretty girl from Azerbaijan who was wearing
a veil just months before. And they all get along very
well. Their mutual immigrant experience connects them
together and they relate.
And when they are old
enough, they date. Those segregationists in the 1960’s
were right when they said that if kids go to school together
they will inevitably fraternize and worse. Hormones are
color blind, you see, and they are responsible for a beautiful,
brave new world that is developing right in font of our
eyes. Living in New York City is an experiment in the
future. And it works. What is more, if we can do it here,
it can be done anywhere.
There is still a chance
for peace on this poor beleaguered planet.