Jerusalem. Atop a ledge at the entrance of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, there stands a ladder that has been there since 1854.
Geographical crossroads are often the occasions of multiculturalism. Frequently, centers of trade have sprung up where cultures meet. In order to barter for goods, cultures would learn the languages and needs of neighboring cultures. (Just as the overseas-born owner of the small corner market near my house in California speaks functional Spanish to accommodate the needs of his customers.) Partnerships would develop, civilizations spring up, and multicultural societies become established.
In Jerusalem, an unlikely crossroads has existed for centuries. The city of Jerusalem is the spiritual crossroads for many of the world’s great religions. For the Hebrews, David established Jerusalem as the capital of the kingdom of God’s people in 1000 B.C.; and there his son Solomon built the Temple, the sanctuary of the Covenant and the resting place of God’s presence. In the Christian tradition, Jesus the Christ was crucified and rose from the dead in Jerusalem. Mohammed visited Jerusalem in 620 A.D. and it is one of the world’s three sacred places of Islam prayer.
In Hebrew, Jerusalem translates into “Abode of Peace”. Sadly, it witnesses more conflict and contention than it does peace. Nonetheless, spiritual multiculturalism and accompanying social cross-cultural exchanges characterize the Sacred City.
For every Utøya, for every Tulsa, for every Rwanda, for every Guatemala, for everywhere else where multiculturalism engenders intolerance, hatred and violence, prayer for peace is proclaimed from the minarets, chanted in the synagogues, raised as fragrant incense in the cathedrals of Jerusalem. The prayer of the City of Peace is echoed elsewhere in the world -- where Hindu homes and temples perform puja, where flags whisper praise and petition to the wind in the Himalayas, where the feet Native Americans pound the ground in dance at Pow Wow’s to establish connection with the Great Spirit, and wherever humanity’s spiritual hunger and aspirations align higher Powers for forgiveness, blessing and intervention.
The ladder has not been removed in more than 150 years from the Church of the Holy Sepulcher because, of the many religions that share the Church, none will claim jurisdiction for the job.