LOCAL PRESS: Interfaith Dialogue

The following response was submitted to and printed in the La Canada Sun, The Glendale Press and the Burbank Leader the week of March 8th, in response to the question:  how important do you believe it is for brothers and sisters of other faith traditions to work together for unity? How does an open dialogue between faith traditions manifest itself in your particular faith?

Picture this:  a full moon glows in the night sky, bathing the earth with it’s gentle light.  A farmer returning home after a long day of tending crops carries with him a bucket of water in which the moon’s reflection quivers.  He stops to admire it and to drink from the water, thinking himself quite special for having been chosen as the moon’s porter.  His steps quicken and soon his path crosses that of a neighbor entranced by the image shining up at him from his own bucket.

Curious, the first man enquires as to the object in his neighbor’s bucket and a heated argument ensues:  each man believes himself the sole bearer of the moon! They begin to shout and push at each other – until they notice that both buckets have been overturned.  The only moon then to be seen is the one to which they, together, lift their eyes – as they stand side by side the in road of their homeward journeys.

This story was told to me years ago, as I struggled with the fact of religious pluralism, and with growing awareness of how many beautiful, righteous ideals are overturned through our shortsightedness, our vanity, and greed.

For those fortunate enough to experience holding and carrying something so great as even a bucketful of the light of Ultimate Reality (that which many call God’s grace) it can be tempting to become possessive.  It can be tempting to believe that this vision constitutes the fullness of reality and to challenge another’s claim to it

As a Unitarian Universalist, I believe that we are equally bathed in the gentle light of one loving Source – and that Its immense and incomprehensible nature causes many of us to focus our attention upon portable reflections of it (otherwise known as theological worldviews).

Problems arise when we become possessive of that which we see – believing that it is the whole Truth.  To me it seems not only logical, but urgent, that we use every opportunity our own homeward journeys afford us – to look for, learn from and celebrate God’s Light  – wherever upon this earth it may be reflected!

The Rev. Stefanie Etzbach-Dale

Unitarian Universalist Church of Verdugo Hills, La Crescenta, CA

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