Wednesday 22nd March was a day of hope and terror.
In the morning a group of interfaith friends from Sandwell had asked if they could visit the prayer room and talk about Chaplaincy. It is part of their “Faithful Friends: On Tour” (https://www.facebook.com/faithfulfriendsontour/) and is a project where they visit places of religious significance to each of them.
They will go far on their pilgrimage: Israel, Palestine, India and Pakistan.
And Rev Nick Ross chose Worcester, where he worked as a nurse at the Infirmary in Castle Street, and where the Chaplain at that time was instrumental in drawing him on in his faith, eventually to ordination.
And so the group of us, from various faith traditions, sat in the Prayer Room at Worcestershire Royal Hospital and reflected on faith and chaplaincy. Sukwinder Singh spoke of the importance of treating the person as a person; another group member spoke of the priority of love.
And amongst these people, Sikh, Muslim, Christian and others, there was understanding, mutual respect, openness, friendship and love. No sense of threat; no proselytising; just the desire to understand.
Fast forward to late afternoon, and the scenes of carnage in Westminster. Terrible stories of people being mown down by a car and the murder of a policeman. I can’t conceive of the hatred-filled heart that can perpetrate such crimes against humanity. But it was not a surprise to hear that it was a terrorist attack in which ISIS took the credit. And the attitudes of the attacker were as opposed to the attitudes of my morning guests as it is possible to get. Hatred; disrespect; intolerance; enmity.
To those who say that this attack was religion-inspired, I say tell that to my interfaith friends who were full of love.
In fact I came across a lovely quote which says: “If your religion requires you to hate someone, you need a new religion.”
It is my belief, and the belief of all the world religions, that in the end, despite the current expressions of hatred and terror, LOVE ALWAYS WINS.