BAGHDAD, Mar. 29 - Ra'id, my Iraqi friend, shook his head in disbelief as he reflected on the events of the day. "It's a miracle - what happened here today," he said. "A miracle for Iraq".
Ra'id was talking about the peace prayer ceremony that had taken place in the National Theatre in Baghdad on Saturday - the anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq.
The ceremony gathered together spiritual teachers from around the world such as a Native American Chief, a Russian Shaman, an African spiritualist, a Mayan elder and most controversial for Iraq - a Jew from Israel.
They joined with Iraqi religious leaders - Sunni and Shia Muslim clerics, Shieks, Christian Bishops and Monks.
We had been warned that it was dangerous to bring a Jew into Iraq. The anti-Jewish feeling here is strong and deep.
"Muslims sitting with a Jewish man to pray for peace! It's unheard of," Ra'id cried.
"This has never happened in Iraq before!"
But, remarkably, it did happen and the profound significance of it was not lost on all present.
The beautiful ceremony included haunting song in the native language of the Indian Chief adorned in his feathered headdress; ancient dance and drumming from the Siberian Shaman, dressed in leather and fur; readings from ancient texts in the Aramaic language - the language that Jesus spoke - from an Iraqi Christian woman; wise words of peace from a child in Africa delivered by a Kenyan woman; music from the Muslim Sufis - the mystics of Islam; words of peace and unity from a Shia cleric, more from a Chaldean Bishop; tidings from the Mayan tradition from Central America and so it went on.
As tanks rumbled by outside, the power of the music, the symbols, the prayers brought hope to every heart, even in Baghdad where violence surrounds us every day.
It felt like we shone a bright torch in a dark place.
"I believe the love religion everywhere I go, this is my religion," the gentle Muslim teacher, Shiek Abd Al-Jalil Al-Taei told us.
"How much we need the dew points of clemency instead of the hell of begrudgements."
The courageous Jewish teacher, sensitive to the strong anti-Jewish sentiment in Iraq described himself simply as coming from the 'Holy Land' - and told how he works on peace projects with Palestinian Muslims. The audience was pleased when he addressed them in their own language, Arabic, and I felt them relax as he spoke words of respect and understanding. He explained that the actions of a Government do not necessarily reflect the wishes of its people (as so many of us know!). A bridge was built.
The ceremony was woven together by James Twyman, American musician, writer and spiritual teacher whose idea it was to bring these people together.
He started the ceremony by singing the prayer that I love - from St Francis of Assisi.
'Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.where there is hatred let me bring love."
We ended the gathering by planting a peace pole outside the theatre. It has inscribed on it the words "May Peace Prevail on Earth" printed in four languages.
As I watched the diverse and colourful group plant the pole, for a moment I felt that peace had prevailed in Baghdad.
And as I watched a Muslim religious man reach out to shake the hand of a Jew outside the Iraq National Theatre as onlookers passed by, I realised peace had prevailed in at least one heart as well.
"People will talk about this for a long time," Ra'id told us.
"We have a long way to go, but maybe this is the first step."
Ham-du-lillah. Thanks to God.