I was raised in the church. I am the daughter of a minister whose church sat in the middle of the town green. The parsonage where we lived was across the street, and there was a constant flow of people and activities from the church to our home.

My life centered around the church, and it was good. In fact, as a child, I couldn’t imagine any other community. To this day, I continue to hold the values of our church, which is now called the United Church of Christ. We believed in the God of love, and in later years, our church fought for justice, peace, and equality.

I have long ago given up church membership, but I am deeply grateful for the sense of community my church life gave me, the experience of ritual and of the holy, and the values centered on love.

As I grew, I learned about the magnificent panoply of Gods in Hinduism, the power of mindfulness and lovingkindness in Hinduism, the intense connection with the land and ancestors of the Native Americans, and the ecstasy of the Sufis.

Yet, these days, I am frightened by the ways that religion has gotten entangled with politics. I often feel that religion, in its current expression, often points more to tribalism and identity rather than living a life connected to the sacred.

Years ago, on a shamanic journey, I had an experience that showed me another way.

The shaman came and knelt before me while I was deep in trance. I looked into his eyes and imagined seeing him with a cord going through his solar plexus, connecting him back to the line of teachers who had come before him. I could see that the cord had kept the teachings intact over eons so the lineage could stay protected and uncontaminated. I felt immense gratitude for my shaman and his ancestors’ commitment to safeguarding these traditions. I bowed down to him.

Then, something shifted in me. Instead of the one shaman kneeling before me, I was surrounded by images of faith holders of many other traditions — Hindu, Buddhist, Sufi, Native American, Jewish, and Moslem. Each one carried a similar cord but in its own unique color and texture. Suddenly, they came together as if on a loom, weaving over and under, creating a multi-colored mat.

At that moment, I heard a voice saying the time had come for the deepest essence of each of the faith traditions to come together. In this new age, the alchemy of these traditions together would be the foundation of our common understanding. We would come together as one, supporting each other with love and respect with no more war about whose God is better. And I bowed down to the new world.