A/N: This story is in no way meant to stereotype or demean your religious beliefs. However, I am the type of person who believes that all paths are the right path, depending on the person. I also believe that no matter how much any of us bicker about what's right or wrong, if we strive to be good people, we will all have our happy ending.
The Journey of the Souls
It is early morning and a Christian and a Pagan are walking down the road together. At noon, they come to a fork in the road where the paths diverge, branching off into many paths. The Pagan points to the path on his immediate right- a well-traveled dirt road that leads through the woods. He says: "I am going in this direction. Where are you going?"
The Christian stares at him and points to the path on the immediate left- a narrow dirt road which winds through an open field. She says: "I am going this way. Why won't you come with me?"
The Pagan smiles. "Does it matter? We are going in the same direction."
The Christian replies: "No, we are not. Your path is wrong- those old woods are full of darkness, and it is easy to get lost. Save yourself a life full of suffering." She points to the sun-drenched open field. "Take the right path with me, follow the grace of God and he will save you from the darkness and evil."
The Pagan looks skeptical. "My road has been traveled for tens of thousands of years- and all of the travelers ended up where they wanted to go."
"No, they were lost to the darkness." replies the Christian, stubbornly. "I care about you. Trust me and take the left path."
The Pagan replies: "But you barely know me!"
The Christian girl tells him: "But God told me that I must love you, even though you are clearly misguided. He has told us all to save you from taking the wrong path, from being distanced from Him."
The Pagan man smiles. "I appreciate your concern for my well-being, but I know what I'm doing here." He turns to take the right path.
"Fine!" shouts his companion. "You know that you will suffer for your choice! We tried to help you- I tried, God and Christ the Savior tried! But you are blind to His light and deaf to His voice!"
"If you say so…" sighs the Pagan and heads into the woods. The Christian drops on her knees and offers one more prayer to God for the poor Pagan's misguided soul. Then she turns left and heads down the road.
As the sun moves westward, the Christian continues down the path. The path is long and she grows tired, but she loves God and can not wait to see Him in Heaven. She does not stray from her path, nor does she give up. On the road, she passes others. Some of them walk alongside her for a while, then they run farther with renewed energy… Some of them are walking back and forth, unsure of which way they want to go. Some are sitting in the field by the side of the road, muttering over and over again that they are lost.
"But you are not lost!" she smiled. "You are with us, and the Lord is with you!" Some of them listen, and smile and take her hand wearily. Some of them shake their heads and turn back, back to take a different path, and she cries and prays for them.
Finally, it is dusk and the Christian girl is alone on the path again- everyone else is either far ahead of her, or far behind. She comes to a point where her narrow road becomes larger, wider. She knows she is getting close. Suddenly, she looks over her shoulder and sees… the Pagan!
"Evenin'." he says with a smile. "We're almost there."
"Almost there? That's impossible! We can't be going in the same direction!"
The Pagan stares down the road. "Looks right to me."
"What? No!" she cries. "No, it isn't! You were lost to the darkness… Unless…" she ponders awhile and her face lit up. "Unless… You saw the light of God! You went back and took this path after all!"
The Pagan man shakes his head. "Nope. I just kept walking through the woods and here I am." He started walking forward and the Christian, still utterly confused, runs after.
Night comes quickly, but the moon shines beautiful and bright above them both. After a very long time, they find themselves among a vast crowd of people, greater than they had ever seen. The Christian girl, thinking herself among her fellow Christians, grins at them all. "So many have been saved!" she laughed.
She turns to a young woman nearby whom she recognized as a friend from long ago. "So you accepted Christ after all!" she smiled. "I'm so happy for you… But I don't think I saw you on my road."
The other girl stares at her. "Christ?" she asked with an odd expression. "I am a Hindu."
"Why…" the Christian girl falters. "What road did you take?"
"I went through the mountains." answers the Hindu girl.
"I am Muslim." says an intelligent-looking man. "I came across the sea."
"I am Jewish." replies an old man. "I followed the road through the desert."
"I am a Scientologist." replies a kind, smiling woman. "I went over the hills."
"I'm a Discordian." a youth beams at them. "I didn't follow any road at all."
"I am an atheist." replies one man. "I was following the sidewalk and I haven't a clue how I ended up here with you lot."
And so many more! There are hundreds in the crowd- Roman Catholics and agnostics, Buddhists and Sikhs… And people who never quite knew what to think of the world. Some members of the crowd turn on each other and begin questioning, bickering, and a few of them just stand there, smiling serenely. They had expected this. They had taken so many roads since noon, and all of them had been different, and yet they had all ended up in the same place. How was that possible?
They look to the east, to the road in front of them and realize that they had been arguing all through the night. Now the sun was rising, pink and gold and bold indigo ink, over the horizon. It is the most beautiful sunrise they have ever seen. It is enormous, greater than any of them, and yet it is a part of them. It is alive.
The Muslim woman drops to her knees.
The Christian lowers her head and begins reciting her favorite psalm.
The Pagan grins and spreads his arms out towards the horizon…
The atheist smiles comfortably, drinking in the beauty of the sunrise.
All at once, cries of shock and joy ring out from the crowd, for in the sunlight they all see something, and they call out its name…
"What are you all yelling for?" (this is the atheist)
The Pagan turns to the Christian. "What do you see?"
There are tears streaming down her face as she whispers: "I see Him. I see my Lord. He is waiting for me at the Gate of Heaven…"
"Really?" he smiles. "Because I see the Lord and the Lady, and the Summerland…"
They realize then that none of them are seeing the same thing, and yet all of them are seeing the same thing: it is the same sunrise, bathing them all in love and warmth.
One by one each soul comes forward, for they had traveled long paths and now their journey was complete. It had taken them so long to believe it, or not to believe at all, but the was immaterial. They had all ended up in the same exact place. Their road had been one road. Their destination one destination. Their journey, one journey in the same direction.