While I loved growing up Catholic and all the things I learned through my faith, not once did I consider Catholicism to be God’s “chosen faith”, “the One True Church” or the “only path to salvation.” In fact, this idea of separation and competition between religious traditions only confused me. How could there possibly be only one path to God? How could one institution claim to have the only truth? How could only one group of people have an opportunity to be reunited with God “in heaven” and the rest be damned to purgatory or hell? This simply made no sense to me in the presence of a Divine Source that we claimed to be compassionate, merciful, loving and kind.
As I came to embrace the contemplative call within and prayed and meditated with Judeo-Christian scriptures, I found support for my own sense of Oneness in the midst of our very human tendency to categorize and separate. Specifically, as I came to understand Jesus’ teachings, I found validation for my own sense that we are all one. Venturing into the teachings of other faith traditions, I found this same teaching reflected in their writings. Of course, one could certainly interpret scripture in a completely different way, but it was the overarching message of love and unity that stood out for me.
So what is with our human tendency to separate and categorize? Why are we compelled to decide our path is the only one and that everyone else is wrong? I really struggle with these questions as they are so far outside my own personal radar….and yet, when I am really honest with myself, I can see the places in my own life where I stand on my soapbox and judge my path as right and good while judging others as just plain ignorant. So…I guess in the end, I’m no different than anyone else.
I certainly do not claim to have the answers, but I wonder if this human desire to separate springs out of our own unhealed wounds. If we were truly grounded in compassion and love, would we be so tempted to separate? I think that perhaps we would not. Yes, I have been accused of being an idealist and living with my head in the clouds (or in the sand….whichever your perspective), but I do have a dream of what humanity could be like:
My dream is a world in which we are able to remember compassion, joy and peace as our true nature. I dream of a world of humans honoring and respecting eachother for their individual spiritual practices and beliefs. I dream of a world where people are honored and given the tools to cultivate their own unique giftedness. I dream of a world where we are empowered to freely and openly share our gifts with eachother. I dream of a world where we share and where nobody goes without. I dream of a world of people who can listen instead of just talk. I dream of a world in which each and every person is encouraged and given the tools through which they can discover and embrace their own magnificence – embracing the freedom of their truest most authentic self and sharing in in the world.
What would happen if we dared to set aside our perceived differences and worked together for harmony, understanding and acceptance? Boy….we might just have an opportunity to enjoy peace in our lives. So….this is my dream…..and I’m sticking to it!