by Paul Hutchinson
My first trip to Jerusalem and it seems that every stone has a story.
This is the place where ‘X’ happened?
This is where ‘Y ‘did this
This is a holy place
This is where the world began
This is where the world will end
Grand statements, with every stone given huge significance and scale. Which means that it feels like the small things that make up life can get relegated, and everything poured into a serious melting pot.
And yet I met and laughed with many people, heard their stories and felt a kin-ship, told my tales and felt a connection.
I came to talk about my land, the north of Ireland, and to offer my experiences of conflict, dialogue and creative ways to build good relations.
I ate well (the salads were enormous)
I walked from the grave of Jesus to his birthplace
I waited in line at checkpoints
I met many people working hard to bring hope to a divided and broken place
We talked and talked and talked…Jerusalem likes to chatter…
And in one session I handed out a stone I had brought from Ireland, a stone held by friends and foes, different tribes. And I passed it round the room, asking each person to be still and reflect, and to touch the stone that had touched friend and foe. And the loud room was stilled. And something of the sacred unfolded.
And we all play our part in making new worlds
And we all play our part in ending old worlds
And mostly we make small contributions, but they all add, connect, nurture.
And I will never forget my first trip to Jerusalem, a place where every stone tells a story.
And the stone that was shared in Jerusalem is now being held in Ireland.
Paul Hutchinson is the Centre Director of Corrymeela, a Christian community committed to reconciliation. He visited Jerusalem recently and shared his experiences from Northern Ireland with locals during two special events hosted by ICCI. Read more about these events here.