“When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.” –Jimi Hendrix

While many of us remember 9/11 as the bombing of the World Trade Center, I’d like to offer a different historical memory. I offer this perspective because I want us to focus on the possibility of healing and transformation rather than on terror and war.

A Peace Quilt from the Hope Out Loud Peace and Arts Festival.

On September 11, 1906, Mohandas K. Gandhi launched the modern nonviolence movement. On that day, at a gathering of 3,000 Indians in Johannesburg, South Africa, Gandhi called for Satyagraha — “the force that is born of truth and love.” His message of non-cooperation has inspired countless civil disobedience actions for justice and peace.

9/11 has always been special to me because it is my birthday. When I tell people I was born on September 11, they always apologize (I’m not sure if they are apologizing for my birth or simply the date of my birth!). Since the infamous 9/11, I have often struggled with how to celebrate, but in 2006 I had an idea that I have repeated every year since.

This yearly ritual is my way of honoring Gandhi and all the brave women and men we know by name and those whose names we will never know who face violence with nonviolent resistance and persistence, those who are willing to speak the truth even when it is dangerous to do so, and those whose lives have been taken through violent actions.

I invite you to join me, on this day, in an act of peace. For one day, please put down your weapons of choice, whether that be your thoughts, words, your guns, your knives, you drone weapons, your bulldozers or other weapons that create destruction and suffering for any being on this planet.

Instead, try placing your focus on healing and transformation. If you are a teacher or parent, can you appreciate all that you find challenging in your students and children as an expression of their humanness? Can you imagine responding to that challenging behavior with curious compassion?

If you are divorced or have a former partner, can you put aside your anger and resentment and focus on forgiveness and healing?

If you are a soldier or freedom fighter, can you look in the eyes of your enemy and see their humanity? Can you remember that they cry just as you do, they love and care just as you do, their blood flows the same red as yours?

My birthday invitation to you is as follows:

Please join me at 12:00 pm PST (or anytime if this time doesn’t work for you) on September 11, and stop whatever you are doing and sit in silence for at least one full minute.

Then imagine looking into the eyes of those who cause you suffering or for whom you harbor anger and resentment… and remember that they, too, are human beings on this planet, doing the very best they can, just as you are.

Breathe in any pain, sorrow, grief, fear, anger and desire for revenge. Then breathe out compassion for all beings, peace, healing and the possibility of transformation.

Stay present in this energy until you feel peaceful and can imagine bringing that quality of peace into the rest of your day.

It is my goal that for one minute (if not for a full day), everyone will not only envision the possibility of peace but also experience it in their hearts and bodies.

Will you join me? Here is my video about this effort:

It would be a huge gift to me if you passed my invitation along to others around the globe, invited your congregations to join in a moment of silence, and shared it with friends and family members. I would love to see this go viral so that everyone around the globe will experience one moment of silent prayer for peace – where no guns are drawn, now words are spoken, no hearts are closed.

The idea of many people breathing in pain and breathing out compassion gives me hope and helps me stay connected with how I want to live and how I want our world to be. I hope you will join me.

I look forward to celebrating my birthday with you wherever you find yourself at Noon (PST) on Tuesday, September 11 (or anytime that day).

Please pass this along to as many people as you imagine would enjoy joining us — the more the merrier! Thanks for celebrating with me in the most joyous way I can imagine.

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