A New Commentary on the Lord's Prayer (Part Three)
Looking back now, I didn’t know what to expect. The ground wasn’t covered in clouds. St. Peter wasn’t at his desk thumbing through a book for names. There was no line to wait in, no golden harps playing, and no robed choirs singing Kumbaya. It was just a solid white wall and a wide open gate.
I was excited to see the gate in the distance. But, I have to admit that when I arrived I was disappointed. There was no celebration planned for my arrival. No one was holding up a colorful banner with my name. I looked up over the gate and saw a placard engraved with the Hebrew word יהודה (Judah) Underneath it was another phrase in that same tongue: יְהוָה שָׁמָּה (The Lord is There) This wasn’t the welcome I’d expected. This wasn’t the welcome I expected. I was an American of the late 20th and early 21st century. My family tree went back to barbarian tribes who tore down the walls of the Roman Empire. Everything seemed so strange; so unfamiliar. How could I possibly fit in? I was consumed by the thought of what would happen to me if I walked through the open gate. But when I stepped across the threshold none of that mattered anymore.
I found myself in a beautiful courtyard; beautiful yet simple. The architecture and landscaping worked seamlessly together. The colors and the textures flowed together perfectly under a blue, blue sky. I realized that I, too, had become simpler. My body, soul, and spirit were working happily together. I belonged here. I didn’t have to defend myself. I didn’t have to care for myself. I didn’t have to assert myself. “I” was no longer my concern. Everything was as it was supposed to be. It had always been that way here. And I was part of this world forever.
“Around the trunk of the tree nearest me were Palestinians and Israelis. There had been such a long and deep conflict between them in my day. But here they were making tea by adding the leaves of that tree to the water heating over the open fire.”
I walked until I reached the far boundary of the courtyard. From that vantage point, I saw a city, just down a hill, that stretched into the horizon. At the center of that bustling city was a tree-lined river. I just had to explore that thoroughfare.