I ride the subway downtown Manhattan to see the 9/11 Memorial site — I’ve looked forward to this for several weeks now. Coming out of the tunnel into the daylight, a man – a tour guide – confronts me with a smile. “Have you come for the memorial?” When I say I have indeed, he tells me what I should already know – “You have to have a ticket. The wait for tickets is like two to three weeks.” I laugh. Yep, that’s how naive I am. To think I can just walk right up to the 9/11 Memorial site. Ah well.
The other place I am hoping to see has no long lines and only a few visitors. A controversial place it is: the new mosque is actually an old city structure being renovated, not built from the ground up. Before I see it, I think it is a new building. It’s not. Prayers are taking place in the unfinished basement — I am not allowed to see that area. But the restrooms are adjacent and I see the socked feet of men in the other room, and I hear the intoned chants. I say to my daughter after laughing loudly at the handwritten signs “female” and “male” with big red arrows drawn below the titles, “Oh, they’re praying.” Then I whisper from that point on.
That it is a work in progress becomes apparent as my daughter pulls a shard of glass from the bottom of her converse shoe — the broken glass is all over the floor outside the restroom.
Upstairs, beautiful photographs of children adorn the large white walls. These children represent all the nations of the world, but each lives somewhere in the 5 boroughs of New York City. The child has to have been born in the nation she or he represents, or her parents must be from that nation. I find the baby representing Estonia. My children are Estonian-American. Such a lovely moment. We look at children from all over the world, delighted.
A man approaches me. He asks me if he may ask me some questions about the center on camera. I agree. He asks me if I believe different religions are capable of co-existing peacefully in the world today. And I say, “I don’t know. I really don’t know given the climate we live in. But, I hope so. I really do. I really hope so.”
Now, why do I say this when I genuinely believe the only way to God is through Jesus Christ our Lord? The answer is simple — just because someone does not believe as I do, I have no right to hate them. Hatred is self-destroying as well as other-destroying.
God is Love. In Him is no darkness at all.