This week: Many Paths to the Same DestinationEdited by: Sophyween 🧙♀️
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Hi, I'm Sophyween 🧙♀️ ~ your editor for this edition of the Spiritual Newsletter.
The Rev. Scotty McLennan, author of the book Finding Your Religion, compares humanity's innate need for spiritual searching to climbing a mountain. In his view, we are all endeavoring to climb the same figurative mountain in our search for the divine, we just may take different ways to get there. In other words, there is one "God," but many paths. I honor whatever path or paths you have chosen to climb that mountain in your quest for the Sacred.
Recently a WDC member emailed asking me about the quote from Scotty McLennon I use each month in my "About this Newsletter." Their email said:
Not being smart but are there many paths to God or just one? The bible says the path is straight and narrow and that all must go through Jesus, it doesn't say anything about more than one path or another way to God/Heaven other than through Jesus that I'm aware of, however, I'm willing to be proven wrong if you know something I don't please explain. My understanding is that all others paths are leading away from Jesus, God, and Heaven. One God, one path, one way is what I was taught all my life. Please share and explain what you are saying.
My answer to the member was this:
I believe there are many paths to finding the Sacred/God. There are other religions besides Christianity, and there are other sacred texts besides the Bible. So while some follow what is in the Bible, others are true to their own sacred writings. And while their practices and belief systems may differ, ultimately I believe that they all point to the same Sacred entity (aka God, etc.). Many religions, for instance, have a similar version of the Golden Rule - some which pre-date Jesus - which I believe are inspired by the same Sacred presence. To me that implies some foundational similarities of belief and inspiration, all ending up at the same place.
This exchange came to mind for me this past Sunday when Christians around the world observed Pentecost. For those of you who are not familiar with this church holy day, in the Christian tradition Pentecost is the Sunday that celebrates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon and within Jesus' followers after his death, and marks the “birthday” of the Christian church. It is celebrated by most Christians on the Sunday that follows 50 days after Easter, which fell on May 23 this year.
Pentecost did not originate within Christianity, but was first was celebrated as a holy day by Jews. Known in Hebrew as Shavuot, or “the feast of weeks,” it was and is celebrated seven weeks after Passover to commemorate Moses’ receiving the Torah on Mt. Sinai, which solidified the covenant between God and the Israelites. It also includes a celebration of the “first fruits” of the growing season, an agricultural holiday that honors the earliest spring fruits which are ready to harvest.
According to the story in Acts, the disciples were gathered in ancient Jerusalem to celebrate Shavuot, or Pentecost. But the disciples had difficulty celebrating the holy day because Jesus, their teacher and friend, had been brutally crucified a few weeks earlier. Days later, there were stories that he appeared to some of them, but vanished just as quickly, and they were left grieving and wondering what would come next and how they were to continue his mission without him. It is within this setting that the Holy Spirit arrives, according to the story in Acts - and enabled them to understand and speak in different languages, so that everyone gathered could hear, and more importantly, understand each other.
I have always loved Pentecost in the Christian tradition. One of the reasons is because the story has so many layers of truth and wisdom contained within it. There is the redemption of the confusion of the languages that began at the Tower of Babel (a story in Hebrew Scripture), and was redeemed by the common understanding of many languages that came at Pentecost. There is the blazing comfort of the Holy Spirit coming to the disciples like tongues of fire after Jesus’ death as a real presence that continued to be with them even after Jesus was gone. And there is the incredible power of the Spirit as it blows through the early church bringing understanding and commonality, just to name a few.
As our world attempts to heal from a global pandemic, we continue to struggle with our differences. Whether it's the most recent violence in the Middle East "Holy Land," or political divisions which continue to threaten our democracy in the US, many of us are speaking different languages and worse, not listening to each other. The growing tendencies in our world toward tribalism and fragmentation beg for a movement of openness to help us understand and appreciate those who believe, vote, and pray differently than we do, and recognize them as members of the same human family. Pentecost celebrates the variety of religious and spiritual paths, and embraces the wisdom of other religions without feeling insecure about one's own identity.
As we go about our sacred rituals, attempting to cultivate hope for the world in our own ways, it is likely that the very hope we seek can be found by respecting, and perhaps even exploring the ways of our brothers and sisters of other traditions. As Rumi wrote - “Christian, Jew, Muslim, shaman, Zoroastrian, stone, ground, mountain, river, each has a secret way of being with the mystery, unique and not to be judged.”
Below you'll find some offerings from other WDC members. Please let the folks know if you read their piece by leaving a thoughtful comment or review.
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Here is a response to my last newsletter "Spiritual Newsletter (April 28, 2021)" "Spiritual Self Care:"
My work of self care is to keep my life partner happy and satisfied.
A worthy endeavor.
From Lou-Here By His Grace
Thank you for featuring "Jersey" in today's news letter!
You are very welcome.
Please keep your comments and suggestions coming! Until next time! Sophyween 🧙♀️
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