Last evening I spoke at a program at the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul. The program was titled Spiritual Seekers: 3 Women’s Religoius Journeys. Three of us shared our stories. One woman was raised as a Baptist and is now a practicing Muslim. Another was raised Reformed Jewish and is now an ordained Zen Buddhist priest working as a interfaith chaplain. I, as many readers already know spent many years as a Tibetan Buddhist before returning to Christianity. The goal was to share something of each of our spiritual autobiography with students who are seeking their own spiritual path.
What was striking, although perhaps not all that surprising, were the common themes that ran through our stories, despite the differences. The understanding of conversion as process and the faith journey as one that lasts a lifetime. The need for quiet contemplative time. The value of experiential knowledge as well as intellectual learning. The importance of mindfulness.
The other thing that came up is something I’ve experienced and spoken about many times – the fact that when one delves deeply into faiths other than ones own, one discovers important points of convergence. Not identity – it would be foolish to pretend there are not differences among religions. But all three of us experienced that things that sound different are often quite similar once one dives deeply beneath the surface.
Following our talks, the questions were provacative and the discussion lively. All in all, an enjoyable as well as spirituallyl nourishing evening.