I have come to realize that there are as many ways to understand the Universe as there are snowflakes in a winter storm, and just as many ways to connect with it. Some of us have an understanding that we call God. Some don’t believe in God, and yet believe in a Universal Mind that orchestrates the grand symphony of life. Others believe in many gods: the gods of Nature – one for each little part of Creation. But then, that Creation is connected by One Life Force that lives, and breathes, and has its being in all of these separate gods.
I have friends and acquaintances that include an assortment of Protestants, a Christian Scientist, Hindus, Latter Day Saints, Catholics, Reiki masters, Quakers, and Jews. I count among my best friends a psychic Unitarian who leads guided meditations, a Yoga teacher who practices mindfulness meditation, a polytheistic Animist, and a Presbyterian who sees auras. Each one is following a path of love – for love is the main component of each individual path. I respect and honor them all.
Mark and I have warmed a pew at the First United Presbyterian Church in Oneonta for twenty years. Belonging to a spiritual community is an important element in our life. I think of church as the trailhead of my spiritual path. I begin my week on Sunday morning with uplifting music, theological lessons to ponder, and connections with church family members. Love fills the sanctuary with a palpable energy! During the week I dally on several stepping stones of my multifaceted path, making sure not to stay on one well-worn section for too long. I may read some words of wisdom in a book such as The Third Jesus: The Christ We Cannot Ignore by Deepak Chopra, or gaze at the miraculous photographs in Crop Circles: Signs, Wonders and Mysteries by Steve and Karen Alexander. I will read The Upper Room devotions with Mark in the morning, and pray with him at bedtime. I’ll meditate with one of my CDs: my current favorite is: “Solar Radiance: Becoming a More Perfect Light” with Sanaya Roman. I may go into the Artisan’s Guild and talk to Debbie, a Wiccan high priestess, who creates beautiful crystal jewelry and offers energy healings to clients. Debbie is “a good witch,” who, like Glenda in The Wizard of Oz, casts spells only in the name of love and goodwill.
On the first Wednesday of each month I like to attend Vespers at the Unitarian-Universalist Society, where Diana leads participants in a guided meditation, sometimes to help us forgive those who have “trespassed against us,” sometimes to obtain guidance for our spiritual path. Then we light candles for every joy and every concern that we lift up in prayer. The pool of flames reminds us of the Light and Love that is expressed with our gratitude and intercessions.
Sometimes I’ll have a conversation, online, on the phone, or in person over tea, with a friend who likes to share thoughts about the path she’s on. Lilly serves the gods of nature who she also refers to as “the gods of love.” She speaks of “Loving Kindness” as a goddess, and vows to serve this goddess in all of her actions and dealings. Lilly’s path is peopled with love and joy and beauty!
Anna tells me about the yoga classes she teaches. I attended these classes for a couple of years, and I know that she shares her expertise in a gentle and caring manner. Anna tells her students: “There is a word that is often heard in the practice of yoga. That word is Ahimsa. Ahimsa is a Sanskrit word that may be translated as non-harming. But it is also translated as love. Let us love ourselves in our practice, offering kindness to ourselves. . . . Non-harming, letting go of violence. Love. We might just call it compassion."
It has always been my belief that everyone is a begotten child of God. I don't think of myself as an adopted child, as many Christians refer to themselves - because I think each of us is created by the same Divine Love that also poured life into the man, Jesus, - who demonstrates for us how to behave as divine children. If we see each other as One in spirit, having one parentage, and one divine consciousness, how much easier it is to love one another! We can even call God by different names, and follow different messengers, such as Buddha, or Mohammed, or Joseph Smith. But if we worship in the spirit of love, and listen with our hearts to each teacher's messages of love, we are still all One. As interfaith minister, Susanna Macomb says: “It is love, after all, that breaks down the prejudice and fear between people of different faiths and different cultures.”