The Washington Post recently ran an amusing (for me) article revealing that Muslims serve as guardians or caretakers for the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. The reason for this surprising arrangement is that the Christians seem to be unable to refrain from frequently assaulting each other. In the twelfth century, the Muslim ruler of the area gave two families the task of keeping the key and performing the opening and closing of the church, in an effort to reduce further bloodshed and civil disruption. The same families continue in their roles today, but the fighting among rival Christian groups continues. So much for brotherly love. At least they don’t have the key to the church.
I find this sad as well as amusing, and the only reason I can find it amusing is because it is not members of my faith who are behaving in such a ridiculous fashion. It is sad, though, to see such a disheartening example of human nature. Even when conscious of the presence of God, these people are able to attempt vengeance for imagined (or real) insults, and engage in taunting and insults themselves. This is one very good reason I do not like organized religion – the adherents have built such an enormous edifice that it is easy to assault, to find something to chip away at, as well as difficult to support. It seems far better to have minimal structure and allow people to find God in their own way.
It is also disheartening to see that many of the combatants are monks, people who have engaged in contemplative practice and who should have a larger vision than is evidenced by their assaults on each other. This shows us that contemplative practice alone does not guarantee spiritual accomplishment.
This is not to say that we are exempt from such behavior. Any time a group of people get together to pray or do anything else, there is the potential for a power struggle, and tempers can rise. Most of us do not have such perfect self-control that irritations do not bother us. This is an area of growth for most of us, and we must persevere, and not lose hope even if we never become adept. We must make every effort to avoid the sort of violent display mentioned above, and remember that contemplation calls us to Oneness. Let us lead the way.
Copyright © 2016 Teresa Chupp. All rights reserved.