finding our way
"We just let her find her own way, and that was her salvation."
The end of Esther Hurlburt’s piece, in the Spring 2008 edition of the UUWorld, bothers me, and I think that says more about me than it does the piece.
Ms. Hurlburt’s story is about her own journey, coming to accept the Christian-language eulogy about Marie, a woman whom she’d visited in prison. While the preacher, Brother Dick, was certain that Esther and other women “took Jesus” to Marie, Esther was equally certain that his memorial service would end in condemnation. When it actually ended with a message of love, she challenged herself to get beyond her own prejudice against Christian ministers.
Similarly, I’m challenging myself to examine my reaction against her tale. I think I’m disturbed by the implication that we can or must save ourselves. I am not certain that this is what Ms. Hurlburt meant, but that is the way I read it. Martha’s “earth-centered presence,” and Leslie’s Course in Miracles spirituality and Susan’s atheist presence and Frances ’ AA-based words and Marybeth’s poetry all impacted Marie. These women did not "let her find her own way"—they shared her journey, and showed her what gave them the strength to carry on, in their own paths. Ultimately, of course, it is up to us to describe our salvation, using the words and metaphors we prefer, but that is not the same as being abandoned to our own devices.
I am not entirely comfortable saying that the other women "saved" Marie; nor am I comfortable saying that she saved herself. Somehow, all together, it did happen.
If the ending were "we just encouraged her to find her own way..." I would feel better about it. Whatever Ms. Hurlburt meant as she wrote this, I clearly need to feel the presence of others along my spiritual journey.
Fortunately, I do. Thanks to all of you.