I think that most of us can agree that this year, things have been decidedly different. For most of us this year has been a series of very unfortunate and many times decidedly distressing events. So many of us have struggled in very real ways.
This year Interfaith Week has had me pondering how living in a pandemic, isolated and apart, has in many ways pulled us together. One of the things I love about the Pagan Community is our diversity. There is no one ‘true’ path. Somehow, within the Pagan Community, despite many of our very distinct differences, we seek out our core similarities and celebrate our differences. As Pagans we have stepped out and truly gone further than tolerating or simply respecting our individual paths. We celebrate them.
Diversity has, to my eyes, always been the most incredible gift. If paganism were a tapestry, it would be the most colourful work of art full of a myriad of different textures, cloths and yarn. The fact that we can come together and celebrate our faith in unity whilst holding true to our own paths is a beautiful thing.
It is also true that as we look out to our communities we can, if we choose to, see a similar, even more richly woven tapestry – a tapestry that includes all of the beautiful, diverse faith paths that our communities hold. Each unique faith contributes new and different colours and textures, and yet, there is a synchronous golden thread that is woven throughout. It is that golden thread that lives in each one of us which binds us together. When we sit together and really listen, we learn that we are far more similar than we are different. We are all humans having a lived experience of walking through life as best we can. Differences do not need to divide us. Indeed we can hold hands with our friends and family of other faiths and celebrate our differences. We can learn from each other, mourn with each other, celebrate together and respect one another – and still hold fast to our own paths.
This year in my position as part of the Children’s and Families team I had the distinct privilege of working together with Coventry City Council and the Coventry Sacred Space Initiative on a short interfaith film highlighting children from all different faiths who are celebrating faith festivals over the next few months called, ‘Together we can get through this’.
This year the film was something which I believe is very special. The children spoke about the differences this year and how it affected them. As I listened to these children tell their truth of what this year has been like, and how hard celebrating our upcoming festivals will be, I was struck by the fact that their truth is our truth – and regardless of our religious or faith beliefs, their experiences mirror our experiences. That shiny, bright golden thread we all have in common shone once again. We will get through this together because our experiences are one.
Because of the impending Lockdown we had a very short window in which to make this happen. I’m very grateful to Rosalie and her family who agreed at short notice to take part in this film in order to represent the Pagan Community – she did an incredible job. Thank you Rosie!
Rosalie has, at ten, chosen the Pagan path for herself and chose to take part in this film. It fills me with so much hope and pride to hear young people like Rosalie speak their truth, and stand confidently in their own chosen faith whilst celebrating the beliefs of others. When asked why she wanted to take part, Rosalie said, “It was important to me to do this to make sure that all religions are talked about and recognised. It was great to hear about other religions and learn something whilst I was having fun!!”
As I watched this film, the wise words of a man very near and dear to my heart echoed in my head, and I hope that you will join me in in taking a moment to savour their truth.
It is not our diversity which divides us; it is not our ethnicity, or religion or culture that divides us. – Nelson Mandela
By Ursula Jeanette – Children’s and Family Liaison for the West Midlands
The Pagan Federation would like to thank Mohammed Bashir of the Coventry City Council, Deepak Naik of the Coventry Sacred Space Initiative and all of the families and children who took part in this initiative. We recognise that without their hard work, flexibility and determination to ensure this film was completed before lockdown this inspiring initiative would never have happened.