"How good and pleasant it is when brothers and sisters dwell in unity." Psalm 133:1
One of the joys of my position is planning an annual Religious Communities Fair on our university campus so that our students can learn about the opportunities to connect with different houses of faith in our area. For a relatively conservative little town not much out of the Bible belt, it's surprising the diversity of spiritual paths that are represented. My anxiety as we set up is always about who to place at each table, as two different representative groups share one six-foot table. Who will play nicely together and not be offended? Who can learn from one another respectfully? Who might have something in common in which to share during the two hours of the event? And which ones will interact with students in an appropriate (and not confrontational) way?
And then, after the hectic rush of set-up, I pause and look out and see the groups intermingling and laughing. I see handshakes and hugs, and business cards being shared. I see students sampling from the wide array of faith backgrounds and testing what feeds their soul. I accept thanks from the groups for inviting them and expressing what a wonderful experience it was for them, and offer my own gratitude in return. I smile, thinking it's just a little vision of heaven. A vision where we are not divided and we don't stereotype or exclude. A dream where violence and hatred and bigotry are not linked with religion. One in which we're one big happy family, with different practices, different eccentricities, and different ways of being, but held together in love by the same parent and the same shared hopes.