I have in recent weeks had a chance to travel through Andalusia, southern Spain, which for 800 years was occupied in one fashion or another by the Islamic Moors. It is impossible to venture into that area and not deeply feel the impact of the interweaving influences of the three great Abrahamic religions~Islam, Christianity, and Judaism~which did not so much peacefully co-exist as each leave their cultural stamp on the artistic fabric of the country.
I was raised a Catholic, but have been a Buddhist most of my adult life, and for some years have not attended Mass. I was able to do so last Christmas Day, in Seville, Spain. The cathedral there, called Saint Mary of the See, is the largest Gothic cathedral in Europe, a grand and soaring structure with 80 chapels, where 500 Masses were said daily a century ago. Last Christmas, the Bishop gave a service to about 200 people in Spanish, of which I understand little (my daughters later relayed the Bishop’s message, that Mary “had nothing, knew nothing” but when asked to bear a son, simply said “Yes”).
So rather than search for meaning in the words, I was free to simply listen to the intonation of people’s voices, to notice the gold leaf reflect softly on the altar, to feel the hard bench below me. I took in a breath of cool, dark air, and took another breath. For some reason, the concluding line from the Lord’s Prayer came to me, “For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours, now and forever.” Rather than seeing it as a supplication from petitioner to God, I turned it around and began to see it as a gift from God to the petitioner. With that, it became my prayer: For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are mine~are all of ours~now and forever. The light shining throughout that kingdom is God’s gift. “This very place is Heaven,” said Hakuin Ekaku, “This very body God”.