side by side

Lately I’ve been reflecting on barriers. The truth is that you can build a wall out of anything. Some materials are better than others, sure, but a wall of bibles will keep people out as surely as one of bricks. Of course, if we start reading the words that make up our walls our only option will be to welcome.

Brother David talked about a recent encounter with a Syrian man who was staying at Taizé at the time. One day he came to the family’s home to invite them to an upcoming community gathering, but was met with a much more powerful invitation to community:

“His reaction was to show me a painting he had done yesterday. [There was] a Muslim tower with an imam on the top and then another tower, a Christian tower, with a cross and a priest. The imam and the priest were shaking hands but on the bottom there was the devil trying to separate them.”


The steeple and minaret both reach up to God, side by side. And as Muslims and Christians, as believers of most any creed, we pursue peace and love together. Differences in our beliefs and culture offer opportunities for growth, and we should embrace them. Both Brother David and the Syrian man saw their friendship in this light. Instead of recoiling upon contact, the two men regarded each other with open eyes and learned from their experience.

Brother David explained, “It’s very enriching, this coming to the other one in an open way, just trying to understand what he’s doing. We have different traditions, different visions, but they touch at many points, and it’s very beautiful to discover these points where we are very close.”

Faith can be warped into a weapon, but its instinct is to embrace. In the coming weeks I will be working to fashion my faith accordingly.

Photo credit to Maciej Biłas