For an hour in a synagogue a small crowd of people got together who are as different as night and day. Some were Hispanic; some were of African descent. There were white and black folk. A woman shared a story of pain and abuse that gave way to hope and healing and a change of name. We sang and turned. There was Hebrew and Spanish and Arabic and English. There were prayers and testimonies – tales of tragedy and expressions of grace.
It was the Sunday before Thanksgiving. Every theological idiosyncrasy was honored. Diversity took nothing away from deeply held personal convictions. I borrowed a pen from a Mormon; a Greek Orthodox said gently but firmly that it was time for peace. A Muslim Imam chanted the Call to Prayer; a Jewish Rabbi chanted Psalm 92.
People the world over may be blowing each other up; but on this night religions as ancient as human history and as young as 150 years managed to gather. The Imam put a yamaka on his head. The Christian Preacher wore her robe and stole. Believe what you will. But on this one Burlington Vermont Sunday night before our nation celebrates “Thanksgiving”, there was peace. It may not be much; but it is enough so that I have hope.
We can bow, bend and turn. We can love and listen. We can forgive and hold each other accountable. We can bump into each other with patience and persistence – and keep doing so until we all come round right.
A blessed Tuesday.