Pilgrimage on Many Rivers

Version 2
Hudson River, NY

It occurred to me today, after my “Secular Pilgrimage” along the Freethought Trail in New York, that my “spiritual journey” is a story to tell and re-tell, not just to explain my “exodus” out of faith, but to remind myself how deep and wide my river travels have been.

I have, over the years, journeyed on many streams. . .

Recited Bible passages from memory in front of a Presbyterian congregation

Prayed for salvation while watching Billy Graham on a black and white television

Went on retreats with born-again Baptists

Shared the gospel on streets and beaches with Campus Crusade for Christ

Raised my hands in praise, speaking in tongues with Pentecostals

Sung in a youth choir, an adult church choir and a college chorus

Played guitar and studied the Bible in a house church with a “Messianic Jew”

Sat and walked in silent meditation with Zen Priests

Chanted Hebrew songs in a variety of synagogues

Placed my forehead down on prayer rugs in a mosque or two

Taken the Holy Eucharist with thousands in the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris

Joined other pilgrims in an old stone chapel on the island of Iona in Scotland

Was ordained as a Presbyterian Minister

as the streams flowed on, I have also. . .

Served as an Interfaith Chaplain for decades

Danced with ecstatic Sufis

Prayed with Christian Scientists, Mormons and Baha’is

Sat quietly with Quakers

Walked with Wiccans

Meditated with Hindus

Sweated in a sweat lodge with Native Americans

Taught Pagan chaplains

Led spiritual discussions among Black, White, Asian and Latino Jail inmates

Taught courses on World Wisdom in congregations

Performed weddings with a Rabbi friend

Joined memorial processions with homeless folks of many faiths and none

Organized annual Interfaith thanksgiving services in congregations

Directed a homeless shelter with the support of many religions

Held discussions with Atheists, Agnostics, Humanists and Freethinkers

Organized and led a “Secular Sanctuary” group walking and reading wisdom in Nature

Managed affordable housing for an Ecumenical agency

Taught courses on Freethinkers

And the rivulets and waterfalls roll on. . .

When I reflect on all these experiences I’m not ashamed or embarrassed; I don’t wish I had been a Freethinker way back when (well, maybe sometimes).  No, I think of the names and faces, the good people I met and continue to meet, those with deep faith, and those with no particular faith.

I don’t think of God.  I think of Good.

It’s been a wild, wacky and wonderful journey.  The common ground for almost all of this has been natural–natural goodness and the common goal of a happier, healthier world.  I no longer believe.  But I’m confident we can journey forward with all our differences, to be refreshed by the water, even if we don’t share the same streams.







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