Every individual is on a religious journey. For some, the journey is an exciting adventure, for others it is barely acknowledged as a part of their existence. As Unitarian Universalists we help each other give expression to our journeys and to become more aware of our beliefs. Unitarian Universalist minister David Parke writes, "Unitarian Universalism's greatest strength lies in its conviction that the journey of the human spirit is one that each person must make for her- or himself. The range of liberal religious experience is limited only by the seemingly infinite variety of human characteristics."
In this pamphlet, eight Unitarian Universalists share the paths they have taken to join with us. These journeys, our journeys, are important. They represent personal life stories which integrate changes in values and beliefs. Some individuals have left an orthodox faith to find a new direction. Others have found renewed inspiration by reinterpreting their traditional heritage. Each story has its own origins, dead ends, detours, smooth paving, and destination. Each has its own pace.
The philosopher Alan Watts reminds us, "No one imagines that a symphony is supposed to improve in quality as it goes along, or that the whole object of playing it is to reach the finale. The point of music is discovered in every moment of playing and listening to it. It is the same, I feel, with the greater part of our lives, and if we are unduly absorbed in im-proving them we may forget altogether to live them." Being raised in a Unitarian Universalist church, or finding one in later years does not end the journey. At every stage of life, new questions and responses arise. Our congregations provide stimulating and secure places where each of us can continue our individual religious quest.
A SPIRITUAL LIFE
I was brought up in the Lutheran church. During that upbringing I completed all the required rituals but was never an active member. After my marriage, my family was not active in church, even though the children went to Sunday School. When our oldest child reached confirmation age, I started questioning my beliefs and what I expected of my children.
Freedom to choose and honesty seemed to be the two values I held most dear. After a year of concentrated involvement and searching in the Lutheran church, I felt restrained from exercising those values and I left the church completely.
After about a year it seemed there was a real void in my life and although I had my family and friends, I felt very alone. Somewhere I had heard of the Unitarian Universalists, so I found their address and decided to go one Sunday, even though it was thirty-five miles away.
It was stimulating and exciting. I was warmly accepted and found people willing to share themselves. I never felt put down for my ideas and I went home feeling like a partici-pant rather than an observer, and much more alive and aware. For the first time in my life, I discovered the need for community, and I find that need being met. I now feel I have a spiritual life and am free to explore it in any way I see fit. I have found a church that fits me, rather than me fitting the church. I am home!