"With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation."
Dwight Lee Wolter
I first entered a church at age 34 after feeling chosen by some entity I could not name to do something I could not specify and to become someone I could not imagine. What, I wondered, is this entity that has chosen me? What force seems to be guiding my thoughts and actions? Could it be, I wondered, that my entire life has been a preparation for this moment?
I visited many churches, ashrams, temples and fellowships. I studied Buddha, Thomas Jefferson, Helen Keller, King, Tutu, Gandhi, Jesus, 12 Steppers, Gurus, existentialist philosophers and Bill Cosby. Eventually, I learned that no matter what I chose, I was to go deeper into that tradition where I would find it all: plenty to love; plenty to resent; plenty to shock and amaze; plenty to disappoint and to inspire.
I did not want to be a spiritual water skier, bouncing along on the surface from one faith experience to another and from one church to another because this one had a more dynamic preacher and that one had a better Sunday School. I wanted, instead of a spiritual water skier, to be a spiritual scuba diver - exploring, experiencing, and excavating what I discovered in the depths of my religion.
I love the UCC. But I also love Unitarians, Buddhists, 12-Steppers, Muslims, Jews, "Nones" and others who, individually and collectively, are trying to find their way in the deep and cavernous darkness of a fragile soul in a wounded world. We are all wells of living water that are somewhere between being filled and being emptied. Perhaps in our quest for fulfillment we can each go deep into the well of our own faith tradition and communicate to each other the awe and wonder we find there.
Thank you, God, for every seeker after goodness and love; for every religion and fellowship that offers living water which we sometimes drink; sometimes ski upon; and sometimes plunge into in order to explore the Soul of the World.
Dwight Lee Wolter is the author of Forgiving Our Parents, Freedom Through Forgiving (a workbook), and Forgiving Our Grownup Children. He is pastor of the Congregational Church of Patchogue on Long Island, New York.