The Words of the Pople Family
Brief Reflection on 5th Peace Pilgrimage, April 2004
April 17, 2004
The holy places are not just for one people or one religion, but for all people. They are holy not because of man but because of God. Originally, the Temple was to be a house of prayer for all people (Isa. 56:7). When people build walls to lock out those of another faith, they block the spirit of God.
I saw Jews cry because Muslims built a mosque on their Temple foundation. I saw Muslims cry because Christians sealed up their mosque or tore down their mosque to build a church in its place. But Jews, Christians and Muslims cried together when our imams returned safely after the attack on Al-Aqsa mosque during Friday prayers on April 2. While the worshippers were being attacked by Israeli soldiers and locked inside the mosque, Imam Bundakji had called us to say goodbye and tell our Jewish delegation that his love for them remained unchanged. Like Jacob experienced with Esau, I saw the face of God in the men who exemplified love in the face of death. This is a living example of God wiping away tears and making all things new (Rev. 21:4-5).
Furthermore, through the grace of Father and Mother Moon as our True Parents, the awesome fact is that we can make any place holy. Upon arriving at the Erez checkpoint in Gaza en route to Jerusalem, we learned that Israel had closed her borders. We called down the spirit of God through music. After several songs, we began singing:
Sweet Holy Spirit, sweet spirit of love,
Stay right here with us, filling us with Your love.
And for these blessings, we lift our hearts in praise.
Without a doubt we'll know that we have been revived,
When we shall leave this place.
We didn't know when and how we would leave that place. But with the chorus of this song, I stood in the aisle of the bus lowered my hands to the floor, gathering up the sin, suffering and death of this world to raise it up to heaven, and then gathered the glory of heaven to bring down to earth. Each circuit of my arms dissipated the sphere of anguish and expanded the realm of grace. Joining our raised hands, I twirled around in the aisle with a sister in front of me. At the front of the bus, Levy Daugherty kept singing more verses. I looked toward the back of the bus to inspire people to join in the song, and I saw Dr. Andrew Wilson's eyes shining brightly. I stretched out my hand to him. He took it and stood up. Joining our raised hands we twirled each other around until his whole body glowed with light.
I was so enchanted I couldn't help laughing. Andrew Wilson laughed too. He laughed so much he collapsed on the bus seat. Other people had transformative prayer experiences at predictable places such as the Upper Room, the Western Wall, and the Dome of the Rock. The Holy Spirit came down in an empty parking by the Gaza checkpoint, the type of place where so many people have died in terrorist attacks. A Jew and a Christian became caught up in the spirit of God and changed the tears of heaven and earth into overwhelming laughter.
As we sang more songs, the Palestinian guards drew closer to the bus, enjoying the singing. Eventually, we were able to leave the bus, be processed through the Palestinian checkpoint, and proceed towards the Israeli checkpoint. In the eaves of the corridor little birds twittered and fluttered, singing their own odes to the creator. They paid no heed to the guards.
While waiting between metal rails in the Israeli holding pens, under the eyes of a young sentry with his finger on the trigger, we kept on singing. Some guards remained stony-faced while others smiled at the music. One young soldier asked us to sing a favorite song of his. Blacks and whites, Pentecostals and Unificationists, sopranos and tenors, we joined our voices in light, uplifting songs. With Uzis pointed at our kneecaps, we set the rhythm: "truth is marching, truth is marching, truth is marching." Then we took up the prophetic words: "Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord," and raised the hallelujahs up through the coils of barbed wires unto the spangled heavens.
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