In Jerusalem stands the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the most holy site of the Christian faith.
In the same city, a Muslim man will awaken this morning, as his fathers have done each day since AD1187, he will retrieve an ancient iron key from a safe place, and he will walk from his house to the Church.
At the holiest site in all of Christendom, a second Muslim man will — as his forefathers have done since at least the 12th century, and maybe as early as the 7th century — knock formally and ceremoniously upon the massive, ornately-carved door to this ancient church.
Monks inside of the church, hearing the same knock they have heard every day for centuries, will open a hatch in the door and pass out a wooden ladder to this son of Islam, who will place it so that he may access an ancient iron lock high above his head, and one of two securing the door.
When the first man arrives, he will hand over the key he is entrusted with to the second man, who will use it to unlock and open the doors to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre to the Christian pilgrims who have come from around the world to visit and worship; then returning the key to the first man.
At night, these two Muslim men will reverse the process, safely securing the doors of a Christian holy site as their families have done in an unbroken line from the 12th Century to the 21st Century.
There is beauty and honour and faith unto others left in this world, Gentle Readers. We simply have to keep our eyes open.
8 thoughts on “Something beautiful.”
One of the funny things about the old city in Jeru is that the conflict is between the Christian sects, not so much between the Muslims and the Jews outside of the Western Wall/Temple Mount. The fights over replacing lightbulbs, for instance, in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher are mind numbing. Also, see “the Immovable Ladder.”
Yet, the arab vendors can hawk at you in Spanish, English, Arabic, and Russian (at least). And regretfully, there is a retail store on the way to the church from Jaffa gate that is the “Alabama” store, with the giant, ugly, “A.” The owner’s brother/cousin went to U of A, and he re-branded his shop signage. Nice dude.
I knew of the process. But you describe it beautifully. I’m envious.
Not questioning your accuracy. Just asking for the reference so I can share with naysayers.
If memory serves, Saladin had to institute this system in order to “keep the Peace” amongst his re-conquered Christian subjects.
It’s an inspired system. One of the “keepers of the keys”, for the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, was killed by gunfire during a recent eruption of unpleasantness there. The job’s dangerous!
Ulises from the People’s Republik of Kalipornia
A ‘beautiful’ way of keeping the peace.
The way I heard it, the Christians control that place only one day a year — Christmas. And when they hand it back over to the Muslim guards that night, there are always bodies to remove. But none of that happens the other 364 days.