Spiritual Companions and Fellow Travelers

Part 3-B in a multi installment series for Lent.
Partners on Your New Path – What mentors or fellow travelers helped light and shape your new path?

Fellow Travelers

My first and longest serving spiritual companion has been my mom. She’s also been my spiritual mentor. See my last post for the details.

I found two spiritual companions during grade school. John Barber Jr., was a congregationalist and the oldest son of the local United Church of Christ minister. Derek Goldberg was Jewish (again, a Catholic, a Protestant, and a Jew walk into a playground…). There wasn’t much overtly spiritual on the surface of this relationship other than the three of us came from different religious backgrounds ..but this didn’t matter to us. The first interfaith conversation I ever remember having was an incident in the boys restroom – it must have been recess or lunch time – when a classmate made some comment about Derek being Jewish. This led to John, Derek, and I having a conversation about the differences between our respective faith traditions. I don’t remember many details at all about this conversation other than it was basic. Protestants don’t have a pope. Jews don’t go to church they go temple and on Friday night and Saturday not Sunday morning. To my mom, and I imagine their parents as well, these differences and the classmates attached to them, spurred neither fear nor hate nor suspicion, just a curiosity to learn more about a friend, to be a friend, and to have a friend. I posted a sermon that contained this story some years ago and I got a nice email from Derek who somehow had seen it online. John or Jackie as we called him to distinguish him from his dad, John Sr. left his first career to follow his dad into the ministry. I enjoyed a Christmas Eve service at his church a while back.  My ministerial career has been full of interfaith work, organizing, and cooperation. This approach started back in grade school.

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