One love

18 Apr

Honestly, I had not been in an actual church in a long time. Apart from an occasional tourist visit to admire stained glass windows or a rare Madonna, I have to admit I am not really the church going type.
Yesterday, I went to church. The Catharina church in Roden to be precise. A picturesque medieval church in the middle of a square in a small town in the North of Holland. Candles lit, the church choir rehearsing their hymns, it felt like I had just entered another universe.
A few hours later, I would be sitting in that same church, moved to tears by an imam reciting the Quran. The minister was there too, as was a rabbi.
As I Left My Father’s House is a play by Bright O. Richards, based on true stories of refugees, interwoven with texts from the holy books of Christians, Muslims and Jews. After all, weren’t Mohamed, Jesus, Abraham and Moses refugees too? Bright and his foundation New Dutch Connections are all about building bridges between “us” and “the other”.
The congregation of the Catharina church in Roden had heard and read about Bright’s play. Inspired by its message of universal faith and inclusion, they wanted to bring it to their village.
Bright was one of the artists we curated for the project Islam Nu (Islam Now), an initiative of Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam within the framework of their exhibition Passion for Perfection. When we heard the Catharina church in Roden wanted to invite Bright, we gladly facilitated to make it happen.
And there we were, in a packed church, welcomed by the minister and the church choir.
How often is it that you have Jews, Muslims and Christians in one and the same house of worship, singing praise to the Creator, whether you call her or him God, Allah or YHWH?
As I Left My Father’s House is not an easy play. It tells painful stories of upheaval, human sacrifice and loss. But most importantly, the play is about the universal truths of life: faith, hope and above all, love.
After the play, we asked the audience how they felt. “Touched, humbled, blessed to be alive” is what some people said. “Sad over the loss of my child, comforted by recognising the pain” is what other people shared.
We then were invited to join the minister and his wife for dinner. She had cooked a kosher, hallal, vegetarian meal for us. Before dinner, we held hands in prayer and asked for the Creator’s blessing.
Like I said, I am not really the church going type. But yesterday night, I was moved. Moved by the compassion and drive of Bright and his crew, moved by the heartwarming welcome by the congregation, moved by the words from three holy books, all under one roof. Elhamdulillah. Amen. Happy Pesach!

One Response to “One love”

  1. Lucie Harkema April 19, 2011 at 7:12 am #

    Wonderful blog about wonderful gathering!
    One world, one love
    Worldpeace is possible…

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