Interfaith Meets Interpath in the 21st Century
“The Sky where we live is no place to lose your wings. Love, love, love…”
– Hafez, beloved Persian Poet, circa 1320-1389
“Let us…recognize that there are ties between us, all men and women living on the Earth, ties of hope and love, sister and brotherhood; that we are bound together in our desire to see the world become a place in which our children can grow free and strong. We are bound together by the task that stands before us and the road that lies ahead. We are bound and we are bound…There is a feeling like the clenching of a fist. There is a hunger in the center of the chest. There is a passage through the darkness and the mist. And though the body sleeps, the heart will never rest.”
– James Taylor, beloved American songwriter, 2007
As I see it, Hafez is calling us to devotedly remain attuned to the full human-divine panorama of all possibilities, imbued with Love’s frequency and unconditional boundless presence. Otherwise, we routinely become too burdened, fearful, small-minded, ego-driven, and inwardly divided. Overall health of body, soul, and spirit suffer. We then project this inner state onto our world resulting in countless manifestations of bending and often breaking the golden rule.
Even with our human flaws, there are so many of us who choose to tend in some small way to the heart of the world by activating a measure of love, wisdom, energy, and healing wherever needed. While on this voyage, there are certain to be times when we truly feel lost in darkness and grief as this human experience teeters on insanity. Yet, we clearly are strengthened and our faith and spirit lifted by our fellow humans of all stripes who have had the courage to attempt to mend what has become broken within us and in our world.
Some of us are just getting started. Some of us are longstanding pilgrims on this endless flight of reconciling shadow and light, hope and despair, truth and illusion, tradition and revolution, love and fear. We are called to stand for interconnectedness, interrelationship, and interdependence. We rely on one another to stay awake and remember what the heart knows. There is One Presence Divine involved and intertwined in this reality.
What has been described in sacred scriptures as the omnipresence of unconditional Love is viewed in quantum physics as the binding force of interconnection at all levels of existence. Indigenous wisdom is devoted to the principle and practice of this interconnectedness of all life.
Chief Seattle’s well-known words are clear: “We have not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it…Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.”
Those of us drawn to strengthen this creative binding force of interconnection through our practice and purpose are often drawn to Interfaith causes and the like. These kinds of weavings empower us to follow through and do our utmost to remain in respectful and, better yet, loving relationship with people with whom we disagree, at times deeply disagree about the nature of Creator and Creation.
“Fifty years ago, most people in the United States relied on a single religious community to conduct spiritual practices, ritualize life moments, foster healing, connect to lineage, inspire morality, house transcendent experience, mark holidays, support family, serve the needy, work for justice, and through art, song, text, and speech, tell and retell a common story to bind them together. (Religion is from the word religio meaning “to bind together”.) Now, we might rely on the Insight Meditation Timer, mountain hikes, Afro-Flow Yoga, Instagram hashtags, Friday shabbatlucks, Beyoncé anthems, and protesting the Muslim Ban. But no common story.” (1)
Since fifty years ago, involvement in mainline religion has in most cases dropped significantly. Many of us from the new generations which have emerged since the 1970’s, may or may not be interested in the future of religion, but feel a sacred calling to contribute to the well-being of others and our world. We are looking for meaning and dignity and want to be in integrity with who we are. A very partial list of examples would be:
- Those among us who have moved beyond the secular/religious divide and are searching for the sacred in everyday life
- Individuals who are unbundling wisdom and practices from ancient traditions and turning them into a personalized spiritual life
- Committed protectors and caretakers of planet Earth
- Communities bound by shared practices and goals, more than identity or belief.
Having personally witnessed these generational changes since the early 1970’s, it is unmistakably clear that we have entered a new era for religion, interfaith, spirituality, meaning making, and community building (different than networking). One of the descriptions for this paradigm shift to new forms and venues for meaningful relationships, spiritual deepening, and community and courage building is “Interpath.” (2) For more, check out the links at the end of this writing. * In the upcoming weeks and months, in articles like this one, I will be writing about the emerging worldwide Interpath movement (3) and the transformational inspirations and practices that are forging a renaissance of new ways to address and heal the schisms and fears inherent in this 21st century human community. This movement may include you and/or several people you know.
Feel free to share these articles. I also welcome your comments and creative suggestions at https://oifh.org/contact-us/.
Rev. Ed Conrad
Oregon Interfaith Hub
(1) “The Care of Souls” 2018 Harvard Divinity School Project–
(2) For more info, go to https://sacred.design/insights. It’s a treasure trove of research and insight into spiritual and religious generational changes of the past 10-20 years compiled largely by millennials (born 1981-1996) and Gen Z’ers (born 1997-2012).
(3) Oregon Interfaith Hub site re: Interpath: https://oifh.org/interpath-project/ or to view the Interfaith Peace Project, Antioch, CA site info about Interpath go to: https://www.interfaithpeaceproject.org/programs/the-interpath-project/