Joyce Van Cura, in front of her home, standing next the Peace Tree. (Provided)

‘Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.” With the words from the song and the desire to do something to bring a symbol of peace to the area, Riverside’s Joyce Van Cura decided to dedicate a tree in front of her home as a Peace Tree to bring contentment to those who see it.

A ribbon with a message hangs from the Peace Tree. (Provided)

Calling her project “If We Want Peace We Must Work for Justice” and inspired by a Lenten reading, she chose the dogwood tree in the front yard of their home at 181 Scottswood Road. 

She and her husband Jay had planted it in memory of her father, the Rev. Ralph Bennett. Joyce chose the dogwood, because its flower is the state flower of Virginia where Joyce is originally from and where she had been told the legend of the dogwood tree.

 According to legend, it was the wood which formed the cross upon which Christ died. It is said that from then on God made the tree small so it could no longer be used in such a way. The red dots on the flower are meant to represent blood and the corona in the flower’s center symbolizes the crown of thorns.

A small glass bird created by Higgins Glass, representing a dove, hangs on the Peace Tree. (Provided)

Joyce enlisted the creative folks at Higgins Glass to make more than 20 small glass birds representing doves, the birds of peace. Each bird has the word “peace” in a different language on one side, with the language it is written in on the other. The message is that peace is universal, no matter in what language. She chose to have the birds done in blue, the color of peace. She also chose Higgins Glass to support a local businesses through these difficult times.

Joyce talked of the helplessness that many have experienced during the past year and how the continued conflicts around the world weigh on our spirits. It is her desire that people will stop by at 181 Scottswood Road to see the Peace Tree and reflect how all can promote peace and justice in the world in some small way whether it be in word or action.

The VanCuras will have the display up for a short time. Let there be peace in your little corner of the world. Thank you, Joyce Van Cura and peace to you.