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The Realm of God is like a rabbi, a Roman Catholic priest, a Protestant pastor, an imam, a Buddhist monk, a Hindu priest, and an atheist gathering together around a round table in their favorite bar. As they each enter the establishment they walk up to the bar and order their drink before finding their seat around the worn, stained table. Many pints and drinks of joy and sorrow had been shared around this table.

If the table could talk, oh the secrets it would share.

The table does talk though – in its own way. Through its scars, watermarks, and gouges it tells those who sit at it that this is a place of peace. This is a place of conversation. This is a place of questions. A place for burdens and delights to be shared openly and freely. This table is a safe space. It is a place for disagreements and debate, but never for winning. Never for converting. Never for proselytizing. This table is neutral ground.

No.

This table is Holy Ground.

If it weren’t for the spilled beer, popcorn, and peanut shells covering the floor, one could get the crazy idea that they should take their shoes off here. However, these holy women and men leave their shoes on and saddle up to the table with their drinks. Each of them places their drink in front of them, but none of them partake.

They do not talk.

No. Now is not the time for talking.

Now is the time for listening…for dwelling.

Now is the time for being.

They sit there around that old, worn table. They sit there in silence, looking into each others eyes. Sometimes what is seen in those eyes is too much to bear, and the glance is diverted until they rest on another’s. Sometimes the gaze is locked, eyes studying eyes – seeking, searching for something within. Each human being taking in the one across from them, and then the one next to them, and then the one next to them.

Female. Old. Brown. Freckles. Black. Simple. Male. Young. White. Ornate.

Differences. Many differences gathered around that table. Many walls that could be put up. Many judgements and prejudices that hover around them like a smog that if given credence would flood the room suffocating them all.

Yet, as they stare into one another’s eyes and as tears start to fall down each of their cheeks, so to does the perception of the walls between them begin to crumble down.

As they look into one another’s eyes in silence gathered around that holy table, they begin to weep. Tears stream down their faces and as they weep hands reach out to hands. They grasp one another, clasping – united. A circle of difference bound together by their shared humanity.

And then the first words of this gathering are uttered from the lips of those united in this circle.

One word. Many languages.

“Shalom”

“Pax”

“Salaam”

“Shanti”

“Peace”

Peace. Peace. Peace. 

Only then are their glasses raised and laughter fills the air.

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©Derek Harkins 2018

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