Our Stories: Diana Forest
My Road to Unitarian Universalism
My road to Boulder Valley UU Fellowship began with the many Christian traditions in my heritage – Quakers, Methodists, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Christian Scientists and an atheist or agnostic here and there. When I was in grade school I loved to go to Sunday School because I could dress up in my best dress and wear my patent leather Mary Jane’s, white gloves and bonnet. I felt very clean and spiritual. My grandmother Dorothy (the Christian Scientist) took me and my brother because my mother said she was an atheist and “all the wars ever fought were over someone’s religion.” I just liked hearing a story read to me, singing a song and coloring a picture. Who understood what prayer was? I thought it was a time to be quiet and try to keep away from Billy Garfunkel who liked to pinch.
My new stepfather was raised in a strict Presbyterian family and when he married my mother, my brother and I were dropped off at Sunday school and picked up an hour later. They told us they went out to breakfast but I suspected hanky panky. As many young teens do, I became very religious, read bible stories, was baptized, tried to pray a lot and joined the church choir. It was fun to wear the choir robe and sit above the sanctuary watching the congregation try not to fall asleep during the sermon. I never thought to question the things I was hearing. In high school I stopped going to church – too many other things to do, but resumed going to non-denominational services in college where I once again joined to choir. No questioning there either.
The road to UUism took a big detour when I married into a strong Episcopalian family. My husband had been an altar boy and wanted our children baptized in his home church. I, of course, didn’t question. I liked the feeling of having family surround us at services, especially when Uncle Dewy, full of a great deal of eggnog, sang “Hark the Herald Angels” on Christmas Eve while beating time on the back of the pew. When my husband was in graduate school we occasionally went to student services conducted by an Episcopalian priest we knew. I was less involved with the spiritual teachings and more involved in helping with the spaghetti dinner fundraisers.
During the years I was raising my children, the road took several shortcuts – preschool for the children at a Presbyterian church, holiday services at the Episcopalian church across the street and visits to my aunt’s Methodist services. I dutifully bowed my head in prayer and sang the doxology, but my political beliefs were becoming more liberal and didn’t seem to travel well on my religious road. I started to question and read.
My trial visit to a UU church was not a success. I felt uncomfortable, unfamiliar and unwelcome. I abandoned that road and stayed home on Sunday mornings to worship at the shrine of The New York Times.
Around this time my travels took me to Israel where I was profoundly moved by seeing Masada, excavations of the old city of Jerusalem, the Dead Sea scrolls and an archaeological dig near the Jordanian border. I felt a connection to my Judeo-Christian roots and wondered what Islam was all about. I also traveled to Ireland and imagined my pagan ancestors setting Beltane fires and worshiping fierce gods and goddesses. I began to know where my road would go.
When I moved to Boulder I vowed to find a female doctor, lawyer, accountant and minister. I wanted to find a home. I managed to locate all of them after a few months. The minister was Rev. Catherine Harris at the UU Fellowship. In one of her sermons, Reverend Harris described my road. She said, “there are many paths to the top of the mountain but eventually they all reach the same place.” And now I am home.