Highway to Heaven

Carole Towriss Living in Washington, D.C., Uncategorized 0 Comments

Cambodian Buddist temple

Photo by Edwin Remsberg, Courtesy of the Maryland State Arts Council.

It took me a little longer to pick up my mom and get to church last Sunday. Between her house and the church is a Cambodian Buddhist Temple, one of the largest outside Cambodia, I’m told. Last Sunday marked Cambodian New Year, and literally hundreds of cars were parked in the temple complex, the lot next to it, and up and down New Hampshire Avenue. They had hired crossing guards to direct traffic, and to occasionally stop it to allow pedestrians to safely cross the street and enter the temple.

New Hampshire Avenue is known across the country as the “Highway to Heaven.” At last count, in a ten-mile stretch there were over 30 different places of worship. There are tiny house churches and mega churches. There’s a synagogue, a Hindu temple, and Unitarian church, to name a few. Between my house and our church a Ukrainian Orthodox church sits next to a mosque. That amazes me every time I pass it, since those are almost exactly two of the same three factions that destroyed Bosnia. (It was Serbian Orthodox, but close enough. The third was Catholic.) These two groups work together and share each other’s parking lots when they don’t have big events on the same day. And up the street is a Ukrainian Catholic church that is made without nails, just wooden pegs.

Just past the onion domes and the minaret is a small church, then an intersection. This junction has a sign above the street entering New Hampshire that says, “Right Turn Yield to U-Turn.” That’s not usually an issue except on Fridays, when scores of cars make U-turns to attend the mosque for Friday prayers. The mosque ties up traffic a few times a year on its holy days, too, like Ramadan.

To my knowledge, not once has there been an act of violence against any of these houses of worship. Not even when it was discovered that the Ft Hood shooter had for a short time attended the mosque. The media descended on the place like vultures, asking the Imam questions like, “How does feel knowing a murderer was in your midst?” We prayed for him.

Let me be clear: I still believe that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life, and that no man comes to the Father but through Him. But while we are here on this earth, we can at least live together in peace. After all, if we can’t show them love, how can we ever tell them about the Giver of all love?

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