Interfaith: the dreaded “tell us about your faith journey in 500 words or less” question
The stories I grew up with about Rose and Mary, my Jewish and Irish-American great-grandmothers, are part of my education. Now, I am a Druid and a Unitarian Universalist. The steps that led me from the background of my grandparents’ faiths to the Druid path and the Unitarian Universalists were questions. First, as I began to explore the path of a Druid in my twenties, I found myself asking “What if everybody, every religious path, in some respect, is right?” And when I had asked that question, I immediately realized I had another: “If everyone is right then what should I do?”
In the Unitarian Universalist chalice, I see the cauldron of the living Divine, and in our flame I see Brighid, Goddess of fire, storytellers, healers and craftspeople, whom my Druid teacher invoked to bless my marriage. I see a tradition of religious education that cherishes the children and youth of each parish and gives them critical thinking tools to make their own decisions. I find myself remembering what happened after my future husband, Steve, and I spent the day of a friend’s wedding together, dancing, talking and laughing. It was on that day that our relationship began and we never looked back. The day I arrived at a Unitarian Universalist service, I laughed and talked and sang with the people who became my friends, and just as on that day with my husband, I have never looked back.
To answer any question about my vocational direction fully, I want to attend a Master of Divinity program, both for myself, and for anyone I would attempt to help in my capacity of the ordained office of Ministry. I know that I am most drawn to serve a community or parish as a minister, leading interfaith services, and fostering dialogue about the unknown and the familiar. I know that nurturing a strong religious education program and encouraging people in my faith community to contribute to our lives together by drawing from their passions and skills would be very important to me. I know that I want to learn more about the role and duties of hospital chaplains, because I remember how much I would have appreciated a Unitarian or Pagan chaplain’s availability when Steve died. Finally, I know that part of my vocatioal passion is my interest in what people say about a text or story and where they draw their agreements and disagreements from. I’m also curious about how people then put the story in the context of their faith and their lives.
Neither Rose Stern nor Mary Fitzpatrick would have used words like “interfaith dialogue” in their own stories. They would simply have said “we accept one another and we will work together.” Understanding their point of view as much as I’m capable of doing is also part of my education, as is my certainty that a life lived in sustaining and evolving faith is by far richer than one without. My grandfather, Mary’s son, Rose’s son-in-law, taught me this, not through preaching or intellectual compulsion but through example. His choice to lead and inspire his family through action over word has also contributed to my education, the development of my own faith and my commitment to my beliefs.