This short story was originally published on the now gone Yahoo! Contributor Network. It is a good summary of how I view the myriad of faiths in this world.
The traveler walked down the path. He couldn't remember having started on his journey, he only remembered walking. He didn't know where he was going, or where he had come from. It seemed to him that he had walked from time out of mind. He never stopped walking because all he knew was this path and that he was supposed to walk. It never occurred to him to stop or go the other way.
The traveler slowly became aware that he had been walking a long time and began to wonder where he was going. It seemed to him that there must be a purpose to all this walking and journeying. Where was this path taking him?
Every now and again he would come to a crossroads. He didn't know where the other paths led so he was afraid of them and simply moved on, but he did ponder what those paths might look like.
One day he came to giant hill, so high he couldn't see the top. He thought if he could just reach the top maybe he would see where he was going. So the traveler climbed and climbed for many days, until it seemed there was no end at all, but just when he was ready to give up, he reached the top and felt he could touch the clouds.
He stood atop the hill and looked at all of creation before him. He could see the forests and streams and the mountains. Far, far into the distance there was a golden city that filled his soul with warmth. He watched the sun and moon and skies and earth around this city with great longing. He knew he belonged in the golden city.
All around the city were paths of every kind, some dark jewels breathing of night stars, some brightly colored as rainbows, some as pure and luminous as pearls, and others as simple and relaxing as floating on a mountain stream, but each one different and each one with its own beauty. The traveler searched as far as he could see and found that all the paths led to the golden city. What this meant he didn't know but he was content to walk again because he knew his path would get him there.
One day he came upon an old woman standing in the road crying. The traveler stopped and stared for a long time. In all his days he had never seen another person. He had no idea that other people had walked the path too. Stunned he was afraid to approach her, but she seemed so sad and he wanted to understand why. Carefully he walked to her and asked her what was wrong.
"I'm blind!" she proclaimed. "The road was here, I know it was," she fretted, "but I cannot find it and now I am so old I cannot even see."
"I can see the path," the traveler said. "You can walk with me." This made the old woman smile. He took her arm and they walked together.
"Why are you blind?" he asked her after a time.
"I have forgotten," she told him. "I used to know where I was going but then I stopped walking and I forgot where I was or where I wanted to go and then my eyes became too dark to see." The traveler thought about this for awhile and then told her of all the things on the path around them and of the golden city he had seen high on a hill. Slowly her eyes began to clear and after a time she could see as well as he did and set off on her own path.
Again the traveler walked alone, but for the first time he knew there were others. It occurred to him as he stopped to rest, that if there was a person on the path ahead of him there might be others behind him. It might be nice for them to know they were not alone after all. In the morning he gathered some berries and left them with a simple note. "Please eat these and ease your hunger."
Leaving the gift made him happy so he made another. He gathered water from a clear stream. "Please drink this so you won't be thirsty." He made a bed. "Please rest here so you'll be stronger tomorrow." He even left a bundle of bright flowers. "Please take these and brighten your heart." The traveler made many gifts always smiling when he thought of what the people would do when they found them.
Another day he came upon a man weighed down by a large burden. The man struggled with it, his eyes crinkled shut in strain his body heavily bowed and unable to move. It seemed all of creation was on his shoulders.
"Help!" he cried. "It is too heavy! I cannot bear it!" and he fell to his knees. Overcome with emotion the traveler ran to the man and tried to help him up, but no matter how much he tried he could not get the man to his feet.
"Let me help you carry this," the traveler said and finally the man was able to stand. Together they walked holding the burden. As they walked the burden got smaller and smaller, each step a little piece of it seemed to melt away.
The traveler and the man walked together and talked of many things. The traveler told him about the golden city and together they made gifts for those that would come after them. One day the man's burden was gone and he turned down his own path with a light heart.
The traveler met many people on his way and with each one he learned something. He met hate, and greed, and sadness. But all these people were not bad, they simply needed help on their path. He walked for a long time helping those he met and leaving gifts.
One day when it seemed the traveler was no longer a young man and had walked so long he thought he'd lived a hundred years, the path around him began to change. The world became filled with a bright golden light and soon his feet were walking on nothing but luminous air. As he floated in the loving golden mist he realized that the golden city wasn't at the end of the path…it was everywhere all the time.
"What do you wish of me?" the creator asked, the sound vibrating in the traveler's very soul. The traveler only had one wish. "I wish to go back," he said.
"You do not wish to be with me?" the creator asked
"But you are everywhere," the traveler said. "I am still with you if I go back, and I want to see the other paths and leave gifts."
The golden light grew even brighter and filled the traveler with a joy he had never known before. "As you wish," the creator said. The traveler lived his days wandering from path to path helping those he found, leaving gifts and telling everyone about the golden city. Everywhere he walked, on every path, the world glowed bright and gold even if he was the only one who could see it. And at last he understood. All paths lead to the truth.
Susan is a writer and artist by day, a child and pet wrangler by night, and occasional crazy person on the weekends. She walks the path of a Siedr and strives to grow day by day.