NEW PEACE EVENT--November 11th

Prostrations for Peace
Hyde Park Art Center
5020 South Cornell Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60615
773-324-5520 or 847-454-5390
Sunday, November 11 Veteran’s Day, 12 - 4 pm
Please contribute to this community response to the suffering of war. There will be yoga practice, tai chi, peace offerings, prayer flags and more. This is apart of the Consuming War exhibit.

Sunday, November 11, 4 – 5 pm
Geraldine Gorman, RN, PhD, speaks about Emergency, the international relief organization providing treatment to civilian war victims. Donations will be accepted.


Upcoming Peace Events in Chicago

September 21, 2007
Plan NOW to join us on Friday, September 21 in Daley Center Plaza as we celebrate Peace Day in Chicago and the International Day of Peace.
Peace Day includes the Call to Peace and the World Peace Flag ceremony. As each nation's flag is respectfully presented on stage, we join in saying together, "May peace be in [each country, named one-by-one]".
VOLUNTEERS ARE NEEDED! If you would like to carry the flag of one world nation, call The Peace School today at 773.248.7959.

The purpose of the Global Mala Project is to unite the global yoga community from every continent in the world, forming a "mala around the earth" through collective practices based upon the sacred cycle of 108. On September 21st - 23rd, Fall Equinox and the United Nations International Day of Peace, studios, teachers and organizations across the globe will create fundraising celebrations, raising funds and awareness for some of the most essential issues of our times.


Thank YOU!--Post Comments and Events Here

On behalf of Prostrations for Peace, we wish to thank every one of you for your individual contribution to such an amazing ceremony.

Each person involved helped to cultivate an energy that literally buzzed on the pier, and continued some days later. Events like these are so important for us in this time of suffering, and though we may not feel like we can end the war, it is just as important—perhaps even more important than ever—to be involved in promoting peace, in living peaceably. Although sometimes it feels like we are helpless alone, it is when we join together as a grassroots community that we realize what we can do something. Prostrations for Peace made that a reality for many of us.

The ceremony was covered on Fox News, CLTV, Chicago Public Radio, WLUW, and ABC News. Other people used footage and interviews for documentary and photo essays.

We ended up raising over $700 for EmergencyUSA.

Our website is designed as a forum for peacemaking in Chicago. Please feel free to comment, reflect, and respond to what happened that Sunday. Post links to your photographs, to your peace organizations, to your websites. Post ideas, blogs, prayers, hopes for the future.

We intend to keep updating Prostrations for Peace with upcoming peace events in Chicago, so keep checking and contributing as you wish. We hope to work toward organizing and participating in other peace events in the city.

Again, thank you for making such an important day happen. Keep being the change you wish to see in the world.

Please, post your reactions, upcoming events, reflections, links, and photos to our blog by clicking on "ADD COMMENT" below.


Ceremony Afterglow

Photo: Don Sorsa


Organizer Don Sorsa's beautiful photography.

Photo: Don Sorsa

Contributor Tracey Ostrand's photos.

Organizer Jessie Tierney's photos.


Join Us Now for the After-Ceremony Celebration at Heartland Cafe

Join us now at the Heartland Cafe (7000 N. Glenwood) for an after-ceremony celebration honoring Emergency USA.

(PHOTO: Michael McColly bangs the 1,579th gong of the celebration, commemorating the 1,579th day of the War in Iraq -- today, July 15, 2007)

Today on Chicago's North Shore Beach, Rogers Park

We're on the small pier right now, performing sun salutations, prostrations, and bows. Meditating. Offering prayers. Making peace flags. Building an altar of flowers notes, incense, candles.

And striking a gong for each day of the War in Iraq -- 1,579 days total.

We are here till sunset.

Please join us afterward for a celebration at the Heartland Cafe (Glenwood and Lunt) for Emergency USA, a humanitarian, neutral, non-profit organization that provides high-quality treatment, surgery, and rehabilitation to civilians in war and post-war areas around the world, including Iraq and Afghanistan. Emergency also trains medical and non-medical personnel in these areas.




North Shore Beach (aka Pratt, aka Peace) pier
We encourage you to carpool if you must drive, as there may be a limited number of parking spaces on Sheridan Road and along side roads. See our map at GoogleMaps to search for directions.

If you are coming from the suburbs, you may use the Metra or Amtrak rail systems, hop on the Red line North toward Howard, and exit at the Loyola stop. You'll find Prostrations for Peace across Sheridan on the beach.

If you live in Chicago, we encourage you to use public transportation by going to the CTA's Trip Planner.

Prostrations For Peace is located off North Shore Avenue (1055 W North Shore Ave, Chicago IL 60626) on the small pier.

Please feel free to contact us if you have any additional questions. 773.362.9362 -or- 312.413.9013 michaelmccolly@hotmail.com

After the ceremony, there will be a party held at Heartland Cafe,
7000 N Glenwood Ave, just a few blocks from Prostrations for Peace.


Download Fliers and Spread the Word

The fliers posted around Chicago are spreading the word nicely about the July 15 ceremony.

Please click the links below to download PDFs of the fliers and distribute them in your neighborhood or city:
PDF: Prostrations flier (with tear-off address strips)
PDF: Prostrations flier (color version)


Calendar for Prostrations for Peace

Thursday, July 12, 2007, 6:30 p.m., at North Shore Pier, then moving to Heartland Cafe (7000 N. Glenwood, corner of Lunt and Glenwood)

Sunday, July 15, 2007, from 5:00 a.m. (sunrise) to Sunset


Sunday, July 15, 2007, 8:00 p.m., at Heartland Cafe

The Birth of Prostrations For Peace

Next week I will reach that milestone of adulthood and turn fifty. How and why a day on a calendar has come to have such psychological and almost spiritual significance, I’m not sure. Most people in the world don’t even live to fifty nor have the time or money to consider making a to-do about it. I’m HIV +, and I remember that I didn’t even think I’d turn 40, but here it is.

When my sister turned 50 two years ago, my brother-in-law had a big party for her. It was a joyous and raucous evening, friends and family coming from afar, toasts by her children, gag gifts, funny then emotional speeches. I was happy for her, but inside I dreaded the whole idea that in a year it would be my turn.

As the months passed, the date loomed, and I had no plans, no money to travel, which is usually my way out of all birthdays and holidays as a single man.

Then, Memorial Day came. I was sitting on the pier off of North Shore Beach in Roger’s Park, which is where I spend almost every morning doing yoga or resting after taking a long swim. I was feeling energized and grateful for this beach and the lake and my neighbors I see out here everyday. Over the years no matter where I have lived in Chicago, the lakefront has always been a sort of refuge for me in difficult times. Often it’s not so much the wide span of blue that changes my mood but watching the effect it has on other people’s bodies, especially children and older people.

Later, that day I read through the headlines of the suicide bombs exploding and saw the photos of the shrieking Iraqi women with their hands to their mouths. On TV, there was more of the same as well as the now familiar scroll of American dead, most all under the age of twenty-five and from unknown towns across America. Then I saw the name of a town in Indiana not far from where I grew up, where old aunts and uncles still live. And a rage came over me and all at once I’m feeling the awkwardness of my birthday and my loneliness and all of my problems begin to feel like bombs exploding now inside of me.

Once again, the news from the war has sucked out the sunny day and the buoyancy in my body.

That night walking along the lake one more time with the families and the couples strolling along the beach, I had an idea—a crazy idea.

Why not use this day to have another kind of ceremony? Why not invite my friends and family, all my neighbors, and, in fact the whole city of Chicago to this beach where I seem best able to cope? Why not invite them to confront with me the suffering of this war? Why not ask them to come and create a kind of organic altar to peace? To pray, bow, offer flowers, or whatever they feel in their heart they need to express?

The audacity of this thought made me laugh. But the next day back at the beach I told a friend of mine, a man I met strangely enough one morning far out in the lake as I swam by him and his wife. To my surprise, his answer was swift and serious. “Great idea! Let’s do it!”

A week later several of my friends are sitting around me at the Heartland Café, planning a ceremony that had nothing to do with my neurotic fears about my 50th birthday.

My friends and I don’t have the answers to this endless war. But what we do know and feel is a need to express our frustration and sadness, our common sense of grief and outrage at the useless suffering this war has brought to the people of Iraq, to our soldiers and their families, to our nation, and to the people of the world.


What's Emergency all About?

In today’s conflicts 90 percent of the victims are civilians. Every year war takes the lives of millions of people worldwide.

Emergency provides free of charge, high standard medical and surgical care in war-torn areas.

Emergency promotes a culture of peace, solidarity and respect of human rights.

Emergency is an independent, neutral and nonpolitical humanitarian organization established to provide care to civilian victims of war and of land mines. All Emergency facilities are designed, built and managed by specialized international staff committed to training local medical personnel.

The work of Emergency around the world is possible thanks to the help of the thousands of volunteers and supporters.

How Emergency Operates

Two basic factors are weighed before Emergency decides whether or not to undertake a project:

1) The effective need for specialized medical or surgical services

2) The absence of similar humanitarian projects in the given country

Because health care is a basic human right, Emergency:

- offers medical and surgical treatment completely free of charge
- guarantees treatment to anyone in need of assistance, without any racial, ideological, political discrimination

- provides high quality assistance, employing standardized therapeutic and work protocols which have been tried and tested in emergency situations

- trains local staff thoroughly, with the intent of handing over all operations of the medical center to them and to local authorities as soon as self-sustainability can be achieved

Emergency builds:

- hospitals specifically dedicated to war victims, surgical emergencies and specialist therapy in places where there are none
- physical and social rehabilitation centers

- first aid posts for emergency treatment

- heath care centers for primary medical assistance

All Emergency facilities are designed, built and run by specialized international personnel, who provide training for local staff.

How is Emergency different than other organizations?

Emergency has the capacity, skills and focus to provide specialized long-term care for civilian victims of war and land mines free of charge.

Emergency provides high standard surgical and specialized care. Hospitals and rehabilitation centers are established and operated in depth and for the long term, from trauma surgery and advanced life support for civilian victims of war to public health clinics and First Aid Posts.

Emergency offers training programs for local medical and nursing staff in each of its permanent facilities.

Emergency creates a permanent health-care capacity where it operates through education and training of local health-care personnel. Emergency’s long-term goal is to have a sustainable system in place to be turned over to the local health authorities, where neutrality of care provided free of charge can be guaranteed.

What humanitarian programs does Emergency offer?

Emergency provides surgical, medical, pediatric, maternity and rehabilitation care to the survivors of war and land mines. Public Health Clinics and First Aid Posts are connected to the major Surgical Centers.

Emergency also offers social reintegration programs for rehabilitated victims of land mines and to war widows in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Who funds Emergency and Emergency, USA?

More than 90 percent of fund-raising is based on the activity of volunteers and the contributions of small private donors. More than 93 percent of those funds are allocated to humanitarian programs.

How are Emergency’s hospitals’ locations selected?

Humanitarian projects and programs are identified on the basis of most urgent needs of the populations in war-torn countries and the interaction of such needs with available local resources, project feasibility and opportunities.

Does Emergency stay involved with a hospital after it has been turned over to the local health authorities?

Emergency stays involved by providing supervision, further training and monitoring of compliance with agreed upon principles and protocols of care.

Are reports about Emergency available?

An Activity Report for 1994-2005 is avalible. It summarizes Emergency activities around the world. To request a copy of this reports contact http://www.info@emergencyusa.org/, or 724.766.4518.

EMERGENCY'S contact person for the Prostrations for Peace event is Gerri Gorman. People are encouraged to stop by the table at the ceremony to learn more, or contact Gerri at (312) 413-9013. Click to view a number of local events hosted by Emergency.


The Significance of 108

The Significance Of The Mystical
Number 108

By Vaughn Paul Manley, M.A.
Copyright 2005. All Rights Reserved.

Have you ever wondered why a typical beaded necklace from the East, called a mala, is always strung with 108 beads? You'll find this to be the case not only in Hindu traditions but also Buddhist, Sikh, Jain and virtually any tradition that has it's roots in India. If you've ever been initiated into the use of a mantra you've probably been told to chant your mantra at least 108 times a day, not fifteen minutes a day. Why? In Japan the Zen temple bells ring 108 times to bring in the New Year. Obviously this number is significant. But why not a more rounded number like 100?

The early Vedic sages were renowned mathematicians and in fact invented our number system. 108 was definitely the number of choice for this simple reason: 108 represents the whole of existence. Here's some interesting reasons why:

1. The number 9 represents wholeness and 108 when added together equals 9. 1+0+8 = 9. Interestingly, if you multiply 9 times ANY number, the answer is always 9 when you add the numbers together. Try it! 1x9=9. 2x9=18. 1+8=9. 285x9=2565 2+5+6+5=18 1+8=9. 8543x9=76887 7+6+8+8+7=36 3+6=9 The logic behind this is that 9 represents wholeness or God and God times anything is always God since God is all there is!

2. The 9 planets travelling through the 12 signs constitutes the whole of existence. 9 x 12 = 108

3. The 27 nakshatras or lunar constellations each have 4 padas or parts. The 27 nakshatras are also spread over the 4 elements - fire, earth, air, water. This also constitutes the whole of existence. 27 x 4 = 108

4. Consider the powers of 1, 2, and 3 in math: 1 to 1st power = 1; 2 to 2nd power = 4 (2x2); 3 to 3rd power = 27 (3x3x3). 1x4x27 = 108. The logic behind this is that 1 represents 1 dimensional reality, 2 represents 2 dimensional reality, 3 represents 3 dimensional reality. When you mulitply their powers together then you encompass the whole of existence.

5. The universe is made up of 108 elements according to ancient texts. The current periodic table claims a few more than 108.

6. The diameter of the Sun is 108 times the diameter of the earth (give or take a few miles).

7. The average distance from the earth to the Sun is equivalent to 108 Sun's in a row (give or take a few miles).

8. The average distance from the earth to the Moon is equivalent to 108 Moon's in a row (give or take a few miles).


Organic Activism, Health and You

The goal of Prostrations for Peace is to bring people to one place—the shore of Lake Michigan in Rogers’ Park—and create a communal response to the suffering generated from war. On July 15 at sunrise a bell will ring for the first day of the Iraq War, thirty seconds later another bell will ring, and thereafter all day, a volunteer will ring a bell for every day of this war until sunset. We invite anyone to come and participate by expressing themselves via prayer, sun salutations, making flags, standing in silence, or contributing to an organic altar.

Throughout the day, if 5 people show up or 500 is not the point. The point is to break out of the numbness and bitterness that has alienated us from the reality of suffering that has darkened so many people’s lives both here and around the world. The point is to open the heart and feel that the suffering of others is our own—not metaphorically but physiologically. Ignoring pain and suffering brings illness and perpetuates more suffering.

Like many people, I have become numb to the endless death and destruction and the debates surrounding this so-called “War on Terror.” I went to rallies early on. I read news reports. I shook my head. I ranted and raged with friends. I wrote some op-ed pieces. But in the end, I thought, what can you do? I comforted myself with the idea that Bush will be out of power soon and that the democrats will do something. But the cost of inaction has taken its toll on my body and spirit, and I can no longer wait for the actions of others. My health and the health of America are too important to entrust to politicians.

Initially, the idea came to me while I was doing 108 sun salutations, which I did to try to break out of a general funk I’d been in all spring, a funk caused by my own sense of powerlessness over so many things I have been feeling: the awful violence at Virginia Tech, the emotional struggles of my own writing students, the violence that goes on everyday in my own neighborhood of Rogers Park (just last week a young man was shot on my street by the police), my aging parents and my own awareness of mortality, and of course the endless explosion we feel in our bodies every time we hear those two words—‘suicide bomb.’

Over the years practicing yoga, I have learned that like all forms of spiritual practice, yoga must be used in our every day lives to be understood and cultivated. We must make our own self-styled rituals and ceremonies of its many forms and techniques. In my experience, yoga has been most efficacious when I have felt most at odds with myself and the world, especially when overwhelmed by the emotion of despair.

I did my 108 sun salutations and felt relieved and lighter. The next day I went to the pier at North Shore beach where I often practice and I did more, and a few days later, more still. One day I did sun salutations for nearly 2 hours. The rhythm of doing the same 7 poses over and over felt liberating. The fatigue came and went. The air expanded and fed me as did everything around me, the water and the sand, the sun, the birds and the voices of people on the beach. I wanted to do more. I wanted to do them for some reason other than to just do them. Then the idea formed.

But an idea is only an idea. It doesn’t become an action until it is uttered aloud in the presence of another. Once out, it has it’s own life, and indeed, this is what happened with my idea. When I shyly told others that I had this idea of creating a kind of ceremony on the lakefront to respond the war, I heard the same frustration I was feeling: Yes. Good idea. Something should be done. A ceremony. I want to help! When? Where? The look on their faces and the sound of their voices had this vitalizing affect on me. I told more friends.

Ideas begat more ideas. Emails, phone calls, meetings, and then suddenly we have this blog and posters and a network of people working on organizing this ceremony. This is organic activism. This is what we invite you to experience and join.

When you practice yoga, particularly when you perform sun salutations, repeating 6 or 7 poses in a meditative cycle with the breath and the body in rhythmic motion, the body becomes like a cauldron. With the infusion of oxygen, we use our own heat to cleanse, revitalize, and reconnect ourselves to the world that sustains us.

Every day as organisms we create problems and suffering for ourselves and other living things. Every day we can act to heal, cleanse, inform, educate, and perform rituals to bring us together and to lessen the suffering we share.

Compassion is a physiological truth that perpetuates the health and wellbeing of all living things. Act and spread the word.

-Michael McColly



North Shore Beach pier
1055 W North Shore Ave

We encourage you to carpool if you must drive, as there may be a limited number of parking spaces. See our map at GoogleMaps to search for directions:

If you are coming from the suburbs, you may use the Metra or Amtrak rail systems, hop on the Red line North toward Howard, and exit at the Loyola stop. You'll find Prostrations for Peace across Sheridan on the beach.

If you live in Chicago, we encourage you to use public transportation by going to the CTA's Trip Planner.

Prostrations For Peace is located off North Shore Avenue (1055 W North Shore Ave, Chicago IL 60626) on the small pier.

Please feel free to contact us if you have any additional questions. 773.362.9362 -or- 312.413.9013 michaelmccolly@hotmail.com

After the ceremony, there will be a party held at Heartland Cafe, 7000 N Glenwood Ave, just a few blocks from Prostrations for Peace.


What is "Prostrations for Peace"?


For 1,579 days since the start of the war in Iraq we have witnessed the destruction of a land and its people in the name of peace and security.

Billions of our dollars, millions of hours of human effort, the sacrifice of thousands of lives, the torture and maiming of soldiers and civilians -- and we are no safer.

The people of Iraq live in a hellish, escalating civil war that is spilling over its borders, and the world looks at our government with fear, distrust, and bitter disrespect.

Speeches, commissions, images, news reports, punditry, fear-mongering, and false patriotism have only distanced us from the horror and suffering that permeates our world because of this war.


We sense a need for a different response -- a response from the heart and the body.

We sense a need for people from every community, spiritual practice, and political stance to set aside time to come to Chicago's lakefront and join others in a practice used by all cultures in times of insurmountable suffering: the bowing or prostration of the body to the earth.


This ceremony has no sponsors. It is an organic response of people from across the city and suburbs of Chicago.

It will begin at sunrise and end at sunset on July 15, 2007.

It will take place on the pier of North Shore Beach in Rogers Park.

We seek only your participation by either performing basic sun salutations as practiced in Hatha yoga, bows or prostrations as practiced by Buddhists and Muslims, offerings of prayer while kneeling on the sand as practiced by Christians, or simply bowing and kneeling to the earth in an act of awareness of the great need of our world for healing and peace.

We ask that you perform as many as you feel able as we count off each day that the war has continued. We suggest that you try to do 108, which is a sacred number for Hindus, Buddhists, and Christians, symbolizing a measurement of sacrifice and sustained reverence.


We also seek volunteers to ring a bell and announce each day as we move through the 1,579 days since the war began on March 19, 2003.

We ask that these volunteers sign up for one of the 40 months of the war.

Prayer flags, candles, poems, incense, offerings of flowers to be placed on the pier or on the shore are encouraged but will be removed at the end of the day.

Donations will be accepted for Emergency (www.emergencyusa.org), a humanitarian, neutral, non-profit organization that provides high-quality treatment, surgery, and rehabilitation to civilians in war and post-war areas around the world, including Iraq and Afghanistan. Emergency also trains medical and non-medical personnel in these areas.