Entering the foreboding gate that once guarded the entrance to the infamous wall that separated the Protestants from the Catholics was eerie, gut wrenching, and haunting. It felt like a full-blown déjà vu but in fact was bolstered by the reliving of the horrific images from viewing incessant newsreels.
Everywhere you looked you saw visual reminders of violence. What seemed to be an endless towering walled canvas served as the antithesis of the themes of the Sistine Chapel. The noble staff of Abraham had become a holstered semi-automatic. The cross and a rosary became a sword and a noose.
It dawned on me more than ever the importance of Destination Peace.
There was a time that dinosaurs roamed this lush green landscape. As time passed, history changed the dominant and domineering occupants of the terrain. Vikings, Roman centurions, barbarians, and terrorists appeared. The frightening presence of mindless prehistoric creatures were replaced by thoughtless inhumane humans. Wars, famines and battles may have shaped the physical boundaries of communities but the burning desire for peaceful coexistence eventually created viable communities.
While traversing the historically iconic street punctuated with its illustrated wall that painfully divided two faith communities; I was struck yet once again by the eventual fulfillment of Isaiah’s immortal words:
“and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”
Our ultimate destination should be to avoid wars at all costs, unless not going to war will cost us peace.
Our professorial, passionate, native-born guide was quite insistent that Belfast’s history be contextualized and understood from a historical framework that isn’t seen through the lens of global reporting. Our guide spoke with such passion in his voice that at times I imagined him wearing royal flowing garments from the Middle Ages. Oh, if only the words of the prophets would be found written on the long endlessly stretching Belfast wall.
The modern musical prophets continued in their own vernacular during that war-torn time in history.
“The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls and tenement halls… whispered in the sounds of silence.”
Yes… we experienced that deafening silence as Destination Peace drove past the infamous historic walls of recorded hatred!
We need peace– and may it appear in our time and continue for our grandchildren’s grandchildren.