Community, Events, Health & Wellness, Lifestyle

Striving for Peace – One Step at a Time

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For more than a decade, area residents have literally taken steps to bring about peace.

Each time Coral Springs’ Silent Peace Walk participants gather, once a month, early in the morning, to walk for peace, leader Audrey Ehlin reminds them how small steps can lead to a larger impact. Specifically, peace within their hearts can lead to peace within their families. Further, a peaceful community can spread to neighborhoods, the nation and the world.

Ehlin, of Coral Springs, as well as others gather at 7 a.m. on the first Saturday of every month at the International Peace Garden, located behind the Coral Springs Center for the Arts. Birds chirp and one can hear the soft sound of tree branches swaying in the breeze, but for the most part, quiet reigns. Folks move forward in a single-file line for about 20 minutes. Ehlin estimated the walks attracts anywhere from seven to 20 people.

“I believe one person at a time can make a difference,” she said.

Making a difference was on Coral Springs resident Piero Falci’s mind when one day, back in 2006 or so, he was watching the news. A horrific scene was unfolding in the Middle East, as a conflict between Israel and Lebanon raged.

“I saw images on TV of this man, about my age, in a residential area where bombs had fallen,” Falci said. “His house had been hit by a bomb and neighbors were removing the rubble to retrieve the bodies of his wife and two sons. I immediately thought about my family. I, too, have two sons.”

Falci heard an inner voice: What are you going to do?

What can I do? he wondered. After all, he was halfway around the globe. “But I was deeply touched, and the command to do something persisted,” he said.

At the time, Falci also was reading books about peace. An idea sprang to mind: He should start a peace walk. When Falci approached Coral Springs city officials with designs for a monthly event at the International Peace Garden, “the idea was received with enthusiasm,” he said.

“Many people ask why we do it,” added Falci, author of the book Silent Peace Walk: From Inner Peace to World Peace. “It is our belief that cultivating inner peace will help bring peace to the entire world.

“We think a lot about the survivors (of tragedies), and their pain, and our heart aches for them. In a way, in the middle of the beautiful International Peace Garden, we bring to our awareness how fortunate we are for living in a safe environment, and we compassionately connect with those who don’t have the same safety and comfort.”

Elizabeth Velez, of Tamarac, has participated in the peace walk since 2011. She said doing so not only brings her inner peace, but lets her meet like-minded people who enjoy connecting with nature.

For Coral Springs vice mayor Joy Carter, each time she makes the trek, she notices something different within the garden – different colors amid the foliage, for instance.

Among the garden’s permanent features is a peace pole bearing the words “May Peace Prevail on Earth” written in several languages. “I find it’s a really good way to start my day,” Carter said. “It just brings a balance to my persona, my soul. It keeps you centered.”

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