Many PathsThere's a story often told about four travelers who each take the path they think will lead them to God - one follows the tree-lined path, one follows the rocky path, a third follows the flowery path, and a fourth follows a paved path. They all leave, sure theirs is the right one, all singing a different song. When they arrive, finding the God they seek, they also find one another. And they find that their individual songs were just harmonies, and together they make beautiful music.
That’s really what it’s about. Coming together. In this story, people were looking for answers, and following different paths, and found that they were looking for – well, maybe not the same thing exactly, but something that connected them to one another. And just as the travelers sang different parts of a song but found harmony, we don’t lose our individuality by coming together. Instead, we find harmony and connection, and often we find new answers to our questions.
This is why we have religious communities, like this one. We carve out one hour out of 168 each week because we want to deepen our faith and our compassion and our connection to not only ourselves but to Mystery, to learn how to be together, and to find new ways to think about reality and our place in the world. We may not know that’s what we’re looking for, but that’s what gathering together like we are doing this morning is all about.
Worshiping together helps us make sense of the world and allow for spiritual experience. There are so many things – chanting and singing, meditation and sitting still, dancing and reading – that all contribute to both our collective and individual sense of the sacred. These things aren’t random and help us bring the ideas and the feelings and the questions we have into a big conversation with the ideas and the feelings and the questions of many others.
And then, when we all come together – welcomed in peace, honoring our differences, we begin to see that we might be able to do something together.
You see, we can be individuals, with all our unique voices and ideas. But when we say “we can join our voices together not just as different parts of a song but in one song” – we become strong.
This is the power of the resistance movement. The power of the Climate Change Strike. The power of the immigration justice protests. The power of the women’s march. The power of #metoo. The power of the Poor People’s Campaign. The power of the civil rights movement.
Whether we are individuals in a small congregation speaking with one voice against hate, discrimination, and violence – or we become part of a larger group in our community, in our state, or in our country, speaking with one voice, we can make a difference. We don’t lose ourselves – we are still individuals. But we use our strength, our ability, our passion, and yes, even our questions, to make a difference.
As Unitarian Universalist theologian Rebecca Parker writes,
The choice to bless the world can take you into solitude to search for the sources of power and grace; native wisdom, healing and liberation.
More, the choice will draw you into community, the endeavor shared, the heritage passed on, the companionship of struggle, the importance of keeping faith, the life of ritual and praise, the comfort of human friendship, the company of earth, its chorus of life welcoming you.
None of us alone can save the world. Together—that is another possibility, waiting.Together.
No matter how old or young we are – the only hope we have is by being together, working together, knowing that whatever our individual paths, we must travel together if we have any hope of saving the world.